How to Care for a Kentia Palm Tree
Before purchasing a plant to bring home, you need to know whether you have a home which can accommodate it. This means having the correct environment for them, but it doesn't necessarily mean we have to live in the climate of their origin. Since we can control the climate of our home, keeping indoor plants and outdoor plants healthy can be achieved if we provide the right levels of care. The Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana), also known as the thatch palm, originates in Lord Howe Island off the coast of eastern Australia. It is one of the most sought after palm plants due to its beauty.
If you want to maintain the plant's health and beauty, keeping reading our oneHOWTO article on how to care for the Kentia palm plant. We show you how much water, light, food and fertilizer it needs, as well as providing other tips to ensure optimal care.
Kentia palm tree humidity
Some people may wonder whether the Kentia palm is a tree or a plant. While it is technically a tree because it has the one elongated trunk when it grows large enough. However, it is also used as an indoor plant when potted. It can eventually grow up to 30 ft tall with 10 ft fronds, outdoors. However, it will likely reach a maximum of 10 ft indoors and it will take about 5 years to do so. Be aware of this if you are staying in the same place for a long time.
The reason why Kentia palms take different times to grow and reach different lengths has a lot to do with their environment. A key factor of this environment is the humidity. Since its natural habitat is a tropical region, it requires high humidity. In summer, when it is dry, you will need to moisten their leaves with a simple spray bottle of water. If you have heating on in winter which creates low humidity, you will need to do this also.
Spray the Kentia palm tree with water at least once a week. It is very important you do this when there is no direct sunlight and when it will not be in direct sunlight for an hour or two. If not, it can burn the plant as the water magnifies the sun's intensity.
Much of the care for a Kentia palm tree is similar to other indoor and outdoor plants, but we always need to be specific. This is the same for every plant. For example, the needs of caring for a ponytail palm plant are not exactly the same, even if there are similarities.
How much to water a Kentia plant
When watering a Kentia plant, you need to take various factors into consideration. Since the plant grows at different stages, you will need to provide different amounts as it grows. Here are some key factors to take into consideration:
- If it is planted outdoors, limit watering. It will only need to be watered when it is in places without frequent rainfall. If you overwater the Kentia or keep it somewhere with a lot of groundwater, it can become waterlogged. The result is rot.
- The Kentia palm does not tolerate excess water at the roots. Before watering, make sure that the substrate is already dry a couple inches deep, not just on the surface.
- Indoors, water the plant a maximum frequency of 2 times a week during the summer months.
- Water it abundantly twice a month in winter.
- In cases where the Kentia is indoors in winter with heating, you can increase watering to twice a week, but not as abundant.
- Keep in mind, when the Kentia plant has dry tips on its leaves, it usually indicates a lack of water. If you see this symptom, provide a healthy amount of water and then increase general watering.
How much light do Kentia palms need?
Despite their tropical origina, the Kentia palm does not need excessive light. It can be easily supported if it is in regular shade. If you are looking for other plants with similar requirements, you can take a look at our article on large indoor plants which require low light. Still, it will require some light, so place the Kentia palm near a window or other source of natural light.
Younger Kentia palm trees will, in particular, need to avoid excessive periods in direct sunlight. You will prevent its leaves from burning if you keep it out of direct sunlight until they are 5 years old.
Pruning and fertilizer for Kentia palms
Another common question about Kentia palm care is how often they need to be pruned. From time to time, you may find dead foliage or leaves in poor condition. To maintain good condition, you should prune the Kentia plant twice a year. To prune correctly, use specific pruning shears. They will need to be kept sharp and disinfected before starting the task. This way you can prevent the plant from getting fungal disease and you can prune it safely.
Regarding fertilizer for Kentia palm trees, you will need to fertilize indoor Kentia palms once in the spring. If it looks like it needs it, you can fertilize it one more time in summer. Kentia palms will not require fertilizer in the winter months. You should purchase quality fertilizer, but you can learn how to make homemade fertilizer if you have the time and resources.
Diseases and pests of the Kentia palm
To finish discussing how to care for this plant, you have to look at the diseases and pests of the Kentia palm. There are also other Kentia palm tree care problems we need to consider. Below we talk about some of the most common problems which affect their leaves if its basic care is neglected.
- Powdery mildew: a fungus that results from excess watering. The soil of the plant must be dry to water it and, first of all, you need to avoid having an excess of water in the pot. Annual soil application of a natural fungicide will also help combat this fungus.
- Red spider and cottony mealybug: these are the most common pests of the Kentia palm tree and appear during the hottest months of the year. To combat these problems look at how to combat the mealybug on outdoor plants.
How to recover a dry kentia
Despite the low watering needs of a Kentia palm tree, you may find dry leaves, particularly in the lower sections. This is a clear sign they need greater hydration. If the upper parts and leaves also start to yellow (see above), it means the problem is prolonged. Part of good Kentia palm care is to prevent this from happening, but if it does, there are some things you can do to recover it. Follow these steps below:
- Increase the frequency of watering: you have the option of watering the plant once or twice a week in summer. Switch to twice a week. In winter follow this recommendation until the Kentia looks healthy again.
- Maintain adequate humidity levels: when the sun is out, spray the palm leaves with water every day until they recover their original state.
- Prune the parts that are very bad: if the leaves have taken a yellowish color and evolve to brown, the best alternative is to prune the plant. This helps it to regenerate better and you will recover the plant more easily.
- Do not expose it to strong direct sun: if the Kentia is very dry, place it in a room without much lighting for a few days to help it recover. This point will be especially important if it is a young plant (less than 5 years old).
If you are thinking of purchasing a Kentia palm because you want some new indoor plants, you can look at our article on how to create an indoor garden.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Care for a Kentia Palm Tree, we recommend you visit our Gardening & plants category.