PALMACEAE (PALMAE)      PALM FAMILY

INTRODUCTION:    Palms are woody monocots native to the tropics.  There are many palms which make good indoor plants.  Many get large quickly and require frequent repotting but others grow more slowly.  Some have single trunks and others have multiple trunks.  Palmately and pinnately compound leaves are both common.  Since most palm trees grow in the shade of tropical forests until they get tall enough to reach the direct rays of the sun, they tolerate relatively low indoor light for many years.  Palms may be monoecious or dioecious.  Female plants are required for fruits on those that have showy fruits.  Many palms become large with age and outgrow their location but make attractive, manageable house plants for several years.  Edible palms produce coconut, dates and palm oil and they have numerous uses in and around the home and market in the tropics.  Baskets, bags, hats are examples of products woven from the leaves.   
 Several species in the genus Caryota are known as the fish tail palms due to the fishtail appearance of their leaflets in the pinnately bicompound leaves. 
 Chamaedorea is the genus of the dwarf palms.  Whale tail palm, bamboo palm and parlor palm or Neantha Bella Palm.  They have bamboo-like trunks, often in clusters, and pinnately compound leaves.  The female plants in some types have attractive yellow or red fruits. 
 Chamaerops is the fan palm.  It has large, fan-like leaves. 
 Chrysalidocarpus is the butterfly palm or areca palm.  It is a small palm, producing multiple yellowish canes. 
 The genus Howea is the kentia palms often used by florists.  The palms are small, have tall canes with pinnately compound leaves. 
 Phoenix is the genus of the Edible date palm or pigmy date palm.  It has pinnately compound leaves on a straight, attractive trunk. 

General Care of Palms:  
   

   

temperature: Palms are tropical plants and grow best in a warm location, typical temperatures indoors.  A few do better with a cool night period or when grown on the cool side in the winter.
medium: Palms thrive in a rich medium with good drainage. 
water: Although many palms are drought tolerant, uniform moisture promotes uniform growth.  Wet soil is destructive.  Since palms don’t wilt, it is important to determine moisture content in the medium in the root zone.  Some palms get a pale green appearance when they are in need of water. 
light: Some palms grow in relatively low light, especially when they are young.  Many palms need brighter light, especially as they get older.
fertilization: Palms should be given a moderate amount of fertilizer. Palms will respond to higher rates of fertilization with more rapid growth.  This can present a problem if they outgrow their location too quickly. 
pests and problems: Mites are especially troublesome on palms and scale and mealy bugs can also destroy them.  Cats are notorious for eating the leaves of some types of palms. 
grooming: Remove dead leaves.
propagation: Most palms are propagated from seeds.  Palms that show root primordia along their stems can be layered as a technique to reduce the stem length and those with multiple trunks can be propagated by separating suckers.

 
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