Plants

Kentia Palm Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Howea Forsteriana”

Read our guide to the Kentia Palm for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for "Howea Forsteriana"
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If you love the tropical/boho/jungalow styles and you’d like to make your home look and feel like a relaxing vacation in the Maldives, you can grow Kentia Palm inside your house.

Kentia Palm, also known as the ‘Sentry Palm’, is among the world’s most popular indoor plants. That’s thanks to its ability to adapt to conditions that many other houseplants can’t survive in. For example, it tolerates shade and cold temperatures. What’s more, an indoor Kentia Palm plant can attain an impressive height (up to 10 feet/ 3m tall), which makes it a fascinating focal point in interior landscapes. 

Want to learn more about growing and caring for Kentia Palm? Please read our guide for more information about this plant.

About Kentia Palm 

  • Kentia Palm’s botanical name is Howea forsteriana and it is part of the palm family Arecaceae. It originates from Lord Howe Island in Australia. 
  • The popularity of this plant stretches back to Queen Victoria’s reign whose homes were decorated with the “parlor palm”. What’s more, this plant was also the feature of palm courts at famous hotels, including the Ritz Hotel in London and the Plaza Hotel in New York. 
  • Kentia Palm plants are excellent air purifiers, releasing impressive amounts of moisture into the air and removing chemical toxins. 
  • These plants are non-toxic, which makes them safe for children and pets even when kept indoors. So you don’t have to worry if your furry friend chews on its leaves by accident.
  • Kentia Palm plants are ideal for offices and are often used by interior decorators for designing commercial interiors. They are also perfect for spacious hallways or any rooms that need a little bit of greenery.
  • Make sure you plant your Kentia Palm in a spacious location where it will have enough room to grow and to display its beautiful foliage. 
  • Like most houseplants, Kentia palms thrive in bright but indirect sunlight. You can also keep your Kentia palm in low-light conditions without worrying that it will wither and die. But you should expect it to grow slower and to have fewer leaves than when kept in bright places. 
  • Kentia Palm plants require light watering, and you must also make sure that there’s good drainage to protect them from root rot. Ideally, Kentia Palm plants should be watered once a week, but only if the top two inches of soil feel dry. 
Kentia Palms make great indoor statement plants
Kentia Palms make great indoor statement plants

Kentia Palm Features: An Overview

  • There are two common varieties of Kentia palm plants: H. forsteriana and H. belmoreana. You can differentiate the H. belmoreana variety thanks to its smaller size and erect leaves. Also, you can recognize the H. forestiana variety by its drooping leaflets. What’s more, this variety also adapts a lot better to life in a pot compared to H. belmoreana. 
  • Kentia Palm plants are widely known for their lush fans of foliage and tropical island vibes. 
  • Kentia Palm plants can be recognized by their typical large palm-shaped leaves.
  • Healthy Kentia Palm foliage is a deep green color. Thus, when the foliage becomes brown, it is a sign that there is something wrong with the plant, such as not getting adequate water or having too much fertilizer added. 
  • While indoor-kept Kentia Palm plants can grow up to 10 ft (3 m), those that grow outdoors can attain a height of up to 40 ft (12 m). However, these plants are slow growers so you need to be patient with them.
  • Kentia Palm plants can produce a 3.5 ft (1 m) long inflorescence which consists of white blooms on 3 to 7 spikes. One inflorescence can consist of both female and male flowers. 
  • Although it can take up to 15 years for the fruit to appear, when it does appear, it has an oval shape and a dull red color.
Leaf Detail
Leaf Detail

Growing Kentia Palm

Kentia Palms are perfect indoor plants because they don’t require a lot of care to stay healthy and happy.

You can place them anywhere you like inside your home because they survive well in both bright and low-light areas. But keep in mind that if you keep your plant in a bright spot, you also need to give it enough space to grow because it will become much taller and lusher than it would if kept in the shade.

Also, these plants can tolerate temperatures that drop to 25° F (-4°C) and temperatures up to 100° F (38°C). Yet, we do recommend bringing the plant indoors during the winter months to protect it from the cold. Plus, you should also protect it from excessive heat and direct sunlight during the summer.

When it comes to fertilizing your Kentia Palm, you should do it monthly, but only during the spring and summer. Use liquid fertilizer or slow-release pellets. It is important not to fertilize the Kentia Palm plant too much because it is a slow-growing plant and instead of boosting its growth, you might actually harm it.

Potted Kentia Palm, From Amazon

How to Plant Kentia Palm

Planting your Kentia Palm is not too complicated thanks to how tolerant it is to various growing conditions. Another aspect that makes Kentia Palms perfect for any home is that they can easily adapt to all types of soil, including clay, loam, acidic, or alkaline soil. So, you can use whatever type of soil you have on hand. 

We recommend making sure that you plant your Kentia Palm in a well-draining potting mix. As we have mentioned above, these plants don’t need a lot of moisture. In fact, overwatering can actually hurt them and make their leaves turn yellow or brown. So, ensure good drainage.

Watering Kentia Palm

You don’t need to worry about watering your Kentia Palm very often. Kentias only need to be watered once a week. So, you can plan your next trip knowing that your plant won’t die if you don’t water it for a few days or even weeks. In fact, it is best to use the ‘soak and dry’ technique and to let the soil dry between waterings. 

You can mist your indoor Kentia Palm occasionally to give it some humidity and to remove any dust build-up. This is especially recommended in winter because that’s when the air becomes dry due to indoor heating.

Overwatering is a very common mistake that a lot of Kentia growers make, at least at first. The good news is that you can save your Kentia, especially if you notice the problem before the roots become affected.  The first thing that you need to do is to move your plant to a shaded area to protect its foliage. Overwatered plants can’t transport water to their upper leaves which means that they are quite vulnerable to direct sunlight.

Next, tap the sides of the container to aerate the soil and to create some air pockets that will speed up the drying process. Once the soil is loose, take the plant out of its container, inspect its roots, and remove the soggy soil. Try not to damage the roots during this process. Now you can take a better look at the root system and check for bad smells and signs of root rot. Remove the damaged roots with clean sharp scissors or with a knife and replant the Kentia in fresh, dry potting soil. Make sure the container has drainage holes that allow the water to drain properly and use a well-draining soil mix.

Howea Forsteriana
Howea Forsteriana

Propagating Kentia Palm

While growing and caring for a Kentia Palm plant is nothing complicated, things are a bit different when it comes to propagating it. 

Kentia Palm plants typically propagate by seed. Yet, for optimum germination, you’ll have to wait for many years before the seeds turn red, which is a sign that they are mature and that they can finally be planted.

To successfully propagate Kentia palms, you need to pick their fruits and soak them in warm water for several days. Next, you have to separate the seeds from the fruits and place them in a potting soil mix. From there, you have to make sure that you water the soil regularly to keep it hydrated. But do not overwater it so that it doesn’t become saturated.

The nest step is keeping the well-drained soil in partial shade and ensuring temperatures between 85°F and 104°F (29° C and 40°C).

It is important to know that Kentia Palm plants rarely germinate indoors. So, your plant might never seed. That is why propagating is best left to professional growers.

In Conclusion 

Kentia Palm plants are exactly what you need to give your home the tropical vacation vibe. They make the perfect addition to any indoor space, be it a commercial or residential space. 

Thanks to their ability to adapt to a wide range of conditions, Kentia Palm plants are easy to plant and grow, no matter the weather in your area, where you place them in your home, or how much time you have to care for them. 

Take proper care of your Kentia Palm plant, and it will repay you by keeping the air in your home pure and being an excellent focal point in your interior landscape.

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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