Chamaedorea Elegans (Parlour Palm) Care and Growing Guide

Chamaedorea Elegans (Parlour Palm) Care and Growing Guide

Ever since the Victorian era, the graceful Parlour Palm has been prized as a houseplant for its feathery, light green leaves,  great adaptability, and ease of cultivation. This is what makes the Parlour Palm a beginner friendly houseplant since it can grow in a variety of indoor conditions and is of low maintenance.

Chamaedorea Elegans is an evergreen perennial, often called the Neanthe Bella Palm,  and grows 6 to 8 feet in height in its natural environment. However, as a houseplant, the Parlour Palm usually does not usually grow taller than 4 feet.

Parlou Palms are a dioecious plant, which means that male and female flowers grow on different plants.

In the summer months, mature plants bloom with small inconspicuous white or yellow flowers, gathered in paniculate on long stalks. Pollinated flowers give orange or red stone fruits about half an inch in size. 

Now let’s cover the fundamentals of caring for your Parlour Palm such as light, water, and temperature requirements as well as frequently asked questions on the Parlour Palm.

This care guide will cover everything you need to know about taking care of your Parlour Palm.

How To Grow Parlour Palms

Unlike most of the Parlour Palm’s relatives from the palm family Arecaceae, Parlour Palms are surprisingly easy to grow indoors.

Parlour Palms tolerate low light and humidity, which means sparse watering and occasional neglect will not kill this plant. This type of hardiness is not common with most tropical plants which is why the Parlour Palm is a great beginner friendly house plant.

However, if you want to grow a healthy and lush Parlour Palm then make sure to scroll through each section to understand this plant’s ideal growing conditions.

Light: How Much Sun Does A Neanthe Bella Palm Need?

In its native homeland of Guatemala and southern Mexico, the parlor palm grows under tall rainforest trees in bright shade, protected from direct sunlight.

Understanding its native growing habitat will help provide the ideal growing conditions for an indoor Parlour Palm.

Therefore, Parlour Palms prefer bright, indirect sunlight which are commonly found on east or west facing windows.

However, as it is very tolerant of low light, Parlour Palms will tolerate and grow near a north facing window as well.

In other words, you can keep this plant in relatively low light areas without losing any of its distinctiveness and grace.

Hang A Sheer Curtain To Turn Direct Sunlight Into Bright Indirect Light

If the direct sunlight is too intense or is harming the Parlour Palm then you can hang a sheer curtain to dim the sunlight’s intensity. Sheer curtains are transparent curtains that allow in a fair amount of light while blocking direct sunlight.

Sheer curtains for indoor house plants

Most indoor houseplants thrive in indirect sunlight so this is a great option if you want to place other types of plants near the sunny south facing window.

Not to mention sheer curtains add a bit of privacy. Sheer curtains can be found on amazon in all colors and sizes.

Water: How Often Should I Water My Parlour Palm?

Chamaedorea Elegans is a thirsty plant and should be watered frequently, especially during the summer.

The standard watering schedule involves watering the plant every two or three days from spring to fall. However, the plant may require more frequent watering based on the growing conditions of the plant.

The best way to determine when to water the Parlour Palm is to feel the wetness of the soil.

Keep in mind that underwatering this plant is typically less harmful than overwatering the plant. Parlour Palms can tolerate drier conditions better than most tropical plants can.

When To Water The Parlour Palm

Follow these steps in order to determine when to water a Parlour Palm:

  1. Insert your index finger into the soil 1 to 2 inches deep
  2. Feel for moisture
  3. Water if the soil is dry
  4. Do not water if the soil is wet or moist

The best part of this method is you will notice that the soil dries out faster in summer than it does in winter. So this will change the watering frequency based on the Parlour Palm’s water needs.

Keep in mind that in winter, this plant goes dormant. This means the Parlour Palm rests during the winter where all physiological processes are slowed down and reduced, so the plant will need less water.

How To Water Chamaedorea Elegans

If you water the plant from above then soak the substrate or soil evenly so there are not any dry areas around the pot edges. Allow the excess water to drain from the pot’s drainage hole before placing your plant back to it’s original location.

if you water the plant from below then make sure to pour water into the pot tray instead of the substrate or soil. Thanks to diffusion, the water from the tray will be soaked up and spread through the substrate without the potential of excessive watering.

After about a half an hour, make sure to pour the excess water that was not soaked up or absorbed by the plant.

Humidity: Should A Parlour Palm Be Misted?

Although Parlour Palms are native to rainforests, the Parlour Palm shows a remarkable ability to adapt to an indoor space that has a lot less humidity.

However, to make the Parlour Palm look healthier and prevent any of the leaves from curling, you need to spray the palm at least once a week with water. 

Apart from the fact that misting the plant has a beneficial effect on the leaves, it is also a practical way to clean the plant’s leaves from dust or eliminate pests.

In nature, rain would perform a similar job where the leaves would get cleaned. Indoors, a good misting will do the trick.

However, if you’re lazy like me then there are two great options for increasing the humidity around the Parlour Palm without having to mist the plant.

Simple DIY Humidifier: Pebble Tray

Pebble trays are a simple and effective solution to providing more humidity to plants. A pebble tray is exactly what it sounds like – a tray full of pebbles.

Most house plants, including Parlour Palms, are tropical plants that can grow better in a humid environment.

Pebble Tray humidifier

In order to make a pebble tray:

  1. Select a shallow tray that is larger than the base of the plant’s pot
  2. Fill the tray with a single layer of pebbles
  3. Add water so it rises to about halfway up the rocks

That’s it! You have now created a simple but effective pebble tray for increasing humidity.

Next just place your plant on top of the pebbles and add water to your tray if it ever dries out.

Humidifier: Easy Way To Increase Room’s Humidity

One simple solution is to periodically mist your indoor houseplants to increase the humidity. However, this is manual and, personally, I’m too lazy to continually spray my plants every so often.

An easier solution is to place a humidifier in the room with all of your tropical plants. A humidifier will allow you to adjust the settings to provide the right amount of humidity year round.

Humidifier For Indoor Plants

I use this humidifier in my room and the water reservoir lasts for about 2 days before needing to be refilled. I highly recommend it for a low maintenance way of keeping the room humid for your houseplants.

Temperature: The Best Temperature For Parlour Palms

The optimum temperature for growing Parlour Palms ranges from 65°F to 80°F.

In the winter, when the plant is dormant, a Parlour Palm can withstand slightly lower temperatures but not lower than 50°F.

Parlour Palms are not resistant to frost, so it will die if left outside or in an unheated room that gets below 32°F.

Soil: What Kind Of Substrate Does A Parlour Palm Need?

Parlor Palms are not particularly picky about the soil as long as it is well draining, permeable and relatively nutritious.

Much like any other house plant, Parlour Palms need the soil to allow excess water to drain out, not be compact so the roots can breathe, and provide nutrients so the plant can grow.

Parlour Palms will grow successfully in neutral and slightly acidic soils with pH values ​​between 5 and 7.

The ideal substrate is a combination of equal parts of peat moss, pumice, and ordinary garden soil.

Regular potting soil will probably be fine for a Parlour Palm, but if you notice the soil remaining wet for too long than add sand, pumice, or perlite to help with the drainage of the soil.

Good drainage is perhaps more important than the soil composition, so make sure that the soil drains well and use pots that have an opening on the bottom.

Fertilizing: How Often Should I Feed A Parlour Palm

From spring to autumn, feel free to fertilize your Chamaedorea Elegans with a mild liquid fertilizer for leafy plants.

Since the Parlour Palms are sensitive to excess nutrients, use half the dose stated on the label. You can also use slow-release sticks or granules, but again use half the recommended amount.

In the winter months, the Parlour Palm will be in its dormant stage so the plant does not need any fertilizer.

Repotting: When Should I Transplant My Parlour Palm?

Parlour Palms have deep roots that do not like to be disturbed. Therefore, transplant a Parlour Palm only when its necessary, which is usually when the plant is outgrowing its current pot.

A good indicator that a plant is outgrowing its current container is when roots starts to stick out of the top of the soil or the bottom of the drainage hole.

Typically, a Parlour Palm will grow happily for two to three years in the same container before needing to be transplanted.

The best time to transplant a Parlour Palm is in Spring right before the plant enters its growing season.

When transplanting a Parlour Palm, make sure to use a wide or stable pot so that the plant does not tip over.

Propagating: How To Get New Neanthe Bella Palms?

Below are a few good ways of starting new Parlour Palms.

Separating Multiple Stems

The Parlour Palm has a single stem and does not grow any lateral ones.

The Parlour Palms purchased from stores typically have a few stems to provide a bushier and fuller look. However, this means there are actually a few Parlour Palms growing together rather than just one plant.

Generally, it is possible to split apart the stems so that you can grow new Parlour Plants in separate pots, however, this can be risky if the roots are entangled with each other.

Make sure not to rip off too much off the root mass when separating the Parlour Palms otherwise the stem that has little to no root mass may end up dying in the process.

Keep in mind separately a stem from the other stems is not really propagating a new Parlour Palm. You are taking your same plant and now separating them into different pots, which works until each pot only has 1 stem.

Starting Parlour Palms From Seeds

You can try to grow a new Parlour Palm from seed, but this process requires a lot of patience and high greenhouse temperatures of 85°F and 95°F until the seeds germinate.

Starting a Parlour Palm from seed is a slow process that can sometimes take a few months!

If you want to embark on such a botanical challenge then follow the steps below:

  1. Leave the seed with the hard shell in warm water for 24 hours to soften.
  2. Place the seed into a smaller container filled with a mix of peat moss and perlite in equal proportion.
  3. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of substrate, about half an inch, to prevent them from drying out.
  4. Water the soil gently and cover the container with a clear plastic bag to maintain a high humidity level.
  5. Place the pot in a warm place out of the direct sunlight and wait for the seedlings to appear, keeping the substrate moist at all times.
  6. When the shoots appear and grow one inch or more then you can store the plant in a less warm location. You can also remove the plastic cover.

Once the Parlour Palm shoots have sprouted, you will have successfully grown new Parlour Palms from seeds.

Problems: What Is Wrong With My Chamaedorea Elegans?

Q: Why Do The Palm’s Leaves Have Brown Spots?

A: The most common reasons for brown spots developing on palm leaves are too much water or cold temperatures during the winter months. However, too much direct sunlight can also cause brown spots to develop since the leaves will be getting burned from the sunlight. So water the palm less and place it in a location with indirect sunlight in order to resolve any issues of brown spots developing on palm leaves.

Q: Why Do The Chamaedorea Leaves Turn Yellow?

A: Underwatering is the most common reason for Parlour Palm leaves turning yellow. Lack of water will cause the leaves to curl and turn yellow as the plant is trying to conserve as much water as posible.

However, if you want the Parlour Palm properly then the yellow leaves might be a result of depleted substrate or a lack of nutrients. Try transplanting the Parlour Palm into fresh substrate or start fertilizing the plant and see if the leaves return back to their green color.

Q: Why Does My Parlour Palm Have A Brown Rotten Stem?

A: The only reason for a brown rotten stem on a palm is from root rot as a result of overwatering.

Overwatering will cause excess water to accumulate around the rootballs and will not allow them to dry out. Constant water or wetness around the roots will cause the roots to eventually rot.

This is why it is critical to water a Parlour Palm properly and to make sure that the soil or substrate allows for excess water to drain out.

If the stem has started to rot on a palm then the plant is usually beyond saving. However, try removing the plant from the pot, inspect the roots, and remove any of the rotted areas. If the entire root system is rotting then the plant will eventually die.

Q: Why Does My Parlor Palm Have Brown Leaf Tips?

A: Parlour Palms are tolerant of low humidity, however, too little humidity or a continuous hot, dry air can cause the leave’s tips to turn brown.

Make sure that the Parlour Palm is not placed next to a heat source or in a dry room otherwise the plant will need a more humid environment. Use a spray bottle, pebble tray, or humidifier in order to increase the humidity around the plant.


Q: What Is The Sticky Net Between Palm Leaves?

In winter, when the level of humidity in the air decreases due to space heating, red spider mites can appear on your Parlour Palm. These tiny pests are difficult to spot at first, but you may notice the sticky nets stretched between the leaves.

The best preventative step for spider mites is to maintain a higher humidity level even when the space heaters are turned on during winter. Another solution is to use insecticidal sprays to kill the spider mites.

Fortunately, there is a way to make homemade insecticidal soap that is kid and pet-safe.

View this guide to learn how to make your own homemade insecticidal soapy spray.

Q: Why Does My Parlour Palm Have Mottled, Brown, and Half-dried Leaves?

These are symptoms that are usually caused by excessive watering. However, pests can also cause these symptoms to occur on your plant.

If you notice tiny larvae on the leaves back then the plant is infested with thrips. Sometimes thrips are hard to spot because they blend in the leaves color and, although they do not look harmful, these pests can destroy the entire plant!

Thankfully, you can eliminate these and a few other common pests like aphids, by using some of these natural homemade remedies.

Frequently Asked Question

Q: Can Parlour Palms be grown outside?

A: Parlour Palms can be grown outdoors in the subtropical climate zones 10 to 11.

However, Parlour Palms will thrive only in a well-shaded area of a garden where it does not receive direct sunlight the entire day, especially during the hottest part of the day.

Remember that plants that grow outdoors are usually larger than those limited to a tiny pot indoors so provide outdoor Parlour Palms with enough space to grow.

Q: How Fast Does A Parlour Palm Grow?

A: Although Parlour Palms may not be the most typical representative of its family, this plant is still a palm and they all grow very slowly. It usually takes a few years for a Parlour Palm to reach a maximum height of 4 feet.

However, don’t let this discourage you from growing a smaller Parlour Palm. These palms are always an eye-pleasing sight, no matter their size.

Q: Can Parlour Palms Spend The Summer Outdoors?

A: In the summer months, Parlour Palms can be placed out in the garden or balcony. Make sure to place the Parlour Palm in a nice shady area that is protected from too much direct sunlight so that the leaves do not dry out and fall off.

Also make sure to water the Parlour Palm more frequently if the temperature rises above 85°F. High temperature accelerates water evaporation so this plant will be thirstier on hotter days.

 Q: Why Does My Parlour Palm Never Bloom?

A: Indoor palm trees bloom only if they are mature and if they have enough light all year round. However, do not be disappointed if your Parlour Palm is not displaying colorful flowers. Parlour Palm flowers are inconspicuous, not to mention these flowers have a slightly unpleasant smell. So you’re really not missing out on anything if your Parlour Palm does not bloom.

Q: Is A Parlour Palm Toxic?

A: Parlour Palms are not toxic. So you can grow it anywhere in the home without any fear. Parlour Palms are one plant you don’t have to worry about children or your furry friends approaching.

Final Thoughts

Parlour Palms rightly bear the epithet Elegans in its Latin name (Chamaedorea Elegans).

Its lacy leaves create an aura of lightness and airiness and bring the magic of distant tropical regions into our living or working space. And not only does it look enchanting, but it is also a simple plant to maintain.

According to NASA’s list of 50 indoor plants that clean the air, Parlour Palms are a highly ranked air purifier!

So you have more reasons to include this beautiful palm in your home or work space since it looks beautiful and is beneficial for your air quality. With a little bit of indirect sunlight, water, and humidity – any Parlour Palm will last for many years to come.


Learn how to catch, grow, and cook your own food. Whether you're searching for food tips and recipes or growing your own plants, there's something for you here! So let's learn how to catch, grow, and cook our food together.

Recent Posts