All about the Kentia palm
As a beginner to plants, Howea Forsteriana, known as Kentia Palm, is the perfect indoor plant to start with. This plant can tolerate a little neglect making it a plant with a low maintenance nature.
The leaves of a Kentia Palm are long and lush, with beautiful foliage. It gives the illusion of having a miniature-sized palm tree inside your house! They can grow as tall as around 120 meters in nature and around 350 cm indoors.
The family name of Howea Forsteriana is Arecaceae, but this plant has quite a few nicknames, with the most famous being Kentia Palm. Other nicknames include Forster Sentry Palm, Paradise Palm, Sentry Palm and Thatch Palm.
All the nicknames include the word 'palm' as the plant's shape is as if it's a palm tree in a pot.
Origin of the Kentia palm
Kentia Palm originates from the South Pacific region, mainly the Lord Howe Island, situated on the east coast of Australia.
How to take care of the Kentia Palm
A Kentia Palm is slightly different in nature to other houseplants. The rest of them require care, but a Kentia Palm is tolerant to neglect and requires minimal care.
Kentia Palm prefers a balanced level of moisture, not too wet nor too dry. Therefore, the best way to check if your plant needs water is to check the top centimeters of the soil. If it's dry, then you can water the plant.
From Spring to Autumn, you can water it regularly, but you'll have to increase the gap between the waterings in Winter. Furthermore, try using filtered water as the Palm is sensitive to salty water. If your water has substances mixed in, leave the water in a bucket overnight and then pour it into the plant the next day.
Your plant will show signs if it's either under-watered or overwatered by the leaves turning yellow or brown. Try to fix it before the plant dies by checking the water level in the soil.
Just like other houseplants, a Kentia Palm prefers bright but indirect sunlight. Don't give them direct sunlight as the leaves won't tolerate the heat.
The Kentia palm can survive in temperatures lower than 0°C. However, as Kentia Palms originates from tropical regions, it prefers temperatures between 20°C - 30°C.
Just like they prefer warmer temperatures, the Kentia Palm also prefers high levels of humidity around them. There are many ways to increase humidity levels. You can spray a water mist around the plant every other day. Moreover, one of the best places for plants that prefer a lot of humidity in the bathroom, as the constant use of water helps increase humidity.
This plant can thrive in any kind of soil, whether it's alkaline or acidic, and loam or clay. Moreover, even though they can grow in any kind of potting mix, the mix should have a higher consistency of sand. The most important thing to ensure is a proper drainage system in the soil and pot. This is why they prefer sand, as sand is loose and doesn't clog water. Waterlogging leads to root rot.
While the plant is growing, you can provide it with fertilizer during summer. The fertilizer should at half strength as the leaves can die if it's overfed.
There are some kinds of deficiencies the Kentia Palm is prone to; potassium, brone, and manganese. The deficiencies will manifest in the leaves as necrosis on top. To counter potassium deficiencies, you can feed your plant a slow-release potassium supplement. For the other two, care for your plant a little more than usual by making sure it's receiving enough sunlight and water.
You can also repot your Kentia Palm if you feel it's becoming too large for the current pot. Use new soil and make sure the pot has a good drainage system. Sometimes, a Kentia Palm can start turning yellow and brown even after you're taking care of it properly. This means it has absorbed all the nutrients from the soil and now requires new soil.
Kentia Palms act as natural air purifiers. They remove toxins from the air, such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene.
Propagating the Kentia palm
Kentia Palms take around 15 years to develop flowers and seeds, and only if they're grown outdoors. Therefore, it's easier to look for someone who already has a fully developed plant and borrow fruits or seeds from them.
Firstly, you'll have to soak the fruits once they're red and ripe in warm water, and then take the seeds out of them. Fill shallow pots with a light soil mix and plant the seeds in the pot after dusting them with fungicide. Water the plant adequately so that the soil is moist but not soggy.
You might have to wait between a few months and three years for the seeds to start growing. If you're interested in growing flowers, you can provide a little extra care, and you'll see great results.