How to Care for a Chamaedorea Elegans (Parlor Palm)

Chamaedorea Elegans foliage

The Chamaedorea Elegans or parlor palms brings the tropical feel to your indoors. With its evergreen foliage that adapts to dim lighting and low temperature yet still produces the most magnificent palm-like shrub indoors.

Made popular for indoor decoration during the Victorian era, this native of the deep Brazilian forests requires little attention and will, therefore, turn out to be your friendly low maintenance room-mate. With feather-like leaflets, it will grow to an average height between 130cm and 200cm to produce magnificent yellow flowers in summer when there is sufficient light.

To care for a Chamaedorea Elegans (Parlour Palm), keep in mind the following:

  • Water it once after two weeks when the soil drains sufficiently, and the top layer begins to dry.
  • It prefers bright but indirect sunlight.
  • It requires porous sandy soil with low nutrient composition and an alkaline pH.
  • Keep it between 64ºF (18ºC) and 75ºF (23.8ºC).

Chamaedorea Elegans is a reasonably forgiving plant that will live with small neglect without demanding much time and energy from you. 

However, if you want the beautifully lush and evergreen bush indoors, you must pay attention to particular minor details about the care for your parlor palm.

Here is a thorough guide that will enable you to produce the most spectacular parlor palm shrub ever.

Basic Care Guidelines for Chamaedorea Elegans (Parlour Palms)


Water once a week or even after two weeks. The watering will depend on the amount of light provided and the temperature around the plant. Unlike many other plants, the Chamaedorea Elegans would appreciate drought more than overwatering. You should, therefore, allow the top layer of the potting mixture to dry before the next watering session.

The type of soil used for potting will affect your watering behavior. Since Chamaedorea Elegans prefer sandy and porous soil, frequent watering will be necessary to keep the area around the roots moist. Luckily, the plant does not mind malnourished soil, meaning that the porous soil will not affect nutritional needs for the roots.

Chamaedorea Elegans or Parlor Palm

Reduce the frequency and amount of watering during winter to avoid soggy soil. Reduction in evaporation and a dormant phase for the plant eliminates the need for too much water. Remember, if watering is not controlled during this season, the likelihood of root rot increases.

Lighting affects the amount of water that Chamaedorea Elegans need. If the plant is placed at a position where it receives direct bright light, a lot of transpiration happens. Unlike many plants whose water consumption is determined by temperature and not the brightness around the house, this phenomenon is very singular. Bright lighting also stimulates flowering, meaning that you should water the plant more during the flowering season.

Chamaedorea Elegans require moderate to low watering during summer. If you live or have placed the plant at a bright spot, you’ll have to increase the amount of watering. Remember to avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.


Chamaedorea Elegans is resilient and will tolerate dry indoor air. However, keeping the leaves evergreen, fresh-looking, and free of pests requires some relative humidity. The idea is to imitate the wet tropical rain forests while still avoiding a lot of humidity that would cause fungal infections.

Parlor Palm

This species loves warm weather and will react if misting is done using cold water negatively. It is recommended that you use warm water when misting to avoid shocking the leaves and causing more damage. Mist the leaves occasionally, about twice or thrice a week.

Humidity is crucial in keeping the leaves green and vibrant. However, it also plays the huge role of removing dust from the leaves, enhancing their capacity to filter impurities from the air. Clean leaves will also enhance the absorption of light, boosting foliage growth and the overall health of your plant.

Chamaedorea Elegans loves grouping with other plants or being grown in a bush. This practice will enhance the humidity available around the leaves. It means that the amount of misting required will depend on the number of Chamaedorea Elegans grown together.

Other tricks used to improve humidity around the leaves include the use of a humidifier or a pebble dish with water. The two tricks allow natural evaporation to provide sufficient air moisture to support robust growth. Brown coloration at the tips of the leaves indicates that the plant is not getting the right humidity. This condition will cause the entire plant to wilt eventually.

Chamaedorea Elegans can survive in dry indoor air but will not thrive into the evergreen bush; it can become even greater outdoors in its natural habitat. Use a humidifier or pebble tray at the base of the plant to enhance humidity. 

Keep the plant away from AC systems and watch out for brown coloration around the leaves’ tips as an indication that the plant is not getting sufficient humidity.


Chamaedorea Elegans are not too sensitive to the soil on which it is planted as long as the soil drains well and has some nutrients for the roots. However, a thriving Chamaedorea Elegans will require porous sand, roam, or clay soil. The soil should come at a pH ranging from 5.1-7.5.

Chamaedorea Elegans repotting

The best potting mix for parlor palms is a peat-based mixture. The bottom line should be to provide a quick and well-draining mixture. Natural potting soil can be used as long as it is augmented with sand or humus to boost drainage.

Take measures to sustain the good health of your soil. Some of these measures include the use of distilled or filtered water to avoid chemical contamination in the long run. The inability of the soil to drain also causes chemical buildup and will damage both the pH and nutritional composition of the soil.

Fertilization affects the quality of your potting mixture. Use natural compost or humus to boost drainage and maintain the quality of your soil. Liquid and diluted fertilizer will also protect the soil from chemical buildup and eventual damage.

Use porous and lean soil when potting Chamaedorea Elegans. Monitor the pH and drainage to protect the soil from sogginess. Avoid a lot of fluoride in water or chemical fertilizer to preserve the integrity of your soil.


Light has an instance and a noticeable effect on Chamaedorea Elegans. It will change the appearance and character of the plant instantly. The absence of light also produces very noticeable results, including delayed or diminished flowering.

Chamaedorea Elegans flowers

Parlor palms prefer bright but indirect lighting throughout its life. Such lighting promotes robust foliage growth and will increase the pace of maturity. Bright light also stimulates flowering, resulting in a magnificent plant indoors or your yard.

Dim lighting will not kill the plant, meaning that it can still thrive at a corner somewhere in the house. However, you should be prepared for slow growth and reduced flowering. The brilliance of the green color on the leaves will also be affected.

Intense and direct sunshine scorches the leaves resulting in wilting. Other dangers associated with direct and intense sun include reduced humidity and dry leaves. However, allow the plant to enjoy the morning and evening sun even in the summer.

Chamaedorea Elegans love the bright but indirect sun, especially during the flowering stage. The bright shine comes with an increased need for water, resulting in a thirsty soil. While it will still thrive in dim light, its growth is stunted.


Chamaedorea Elegans plants are sensitive to the temperature provided indoors. The plant requires a consistently warm temperature, explaining why it thrives indoors throughout the year. The best temperature range is anywhere between 65ºF(18.3ºC) and 75ºF(23.8ºC).

Naturally, temperatures will fluctuate in different seasons and during the night. As long as the fluctuation is not prolonged, parlor palms can take temperatures as low as 50ºF(10ºC) and as high as 85ºF(29.4ºC). 

Remember to adjust other growth factors like watering and humidity based on the prevailing temperature.

Drafts and leaking windows can change the temperature around the plant. Keep the plant away from leaking doors and windows during winter to protect it from the cold leaking wind. You should also keep it away from air conditioning ducts and fans.

The best measure of temperature for your parlor palms plant is your comfort. If you are comfortable in the environment, the plant will also be comfortable. While it can handle both freezing and scorching temperatures, the change should not be too drastic.

Advanced Care Guidelines for Chamaedorea Elegans Plants

Chamaedorea Elegans plants hide some magic to reveal to those who offer the best care. For instance, the intensity of the green color on the leaves and robustness of its flowers depend on the small touches you make as you care for the plant.

Here are advanced care procedures that will have a profound effect on the beauty of your parlor palms plant. Let’s continue, shall we?


Chamaedorea Elegans plants are not heavy feeders and will survive with minimal fertilization. The need for porous soil is a perfect pointer that the plant does not require too much food. However, apply diluted fertilizer once a month to keep the plant in perfect shape.

Overfeeding will cause problems for your plant, especially by being a waste of fertilizer. To cater to the light conditions that the plant requires, the best routine is to use compost or humus in the potting mixture. It ensures a slow and healthy release of nutrients to the roots without the danger of damaging the soil.

Reduce fertilization during winter because the plant is at a slow-growth phase. Flush the soil with water after four months of using chemical fertilizers to prevent chemical buildup. This process explains the advantage of using compost or humus during potting.


Cutting the fronds results in more growth, leaving you in a dilemma on how to prune this evergreen parlor palms plant. If pruning is meant to reduce the size of the plant, your focus should be on the old lower fronds. 

Such an approach will also give you a taller, younger, and greener bush.

Pruning should not touch the healthy and young fronds at the top because they are the point of growth for your plant. Such a move would lead to instant death because new shots cannot emerge from the cut shoots. Use a sharp knife to reduce damage on the stalks and hasten the process of healing.

Most palms are self-cleaning and will naturally shed the old leaves. However, you will need to remove them to boost the beauty of your plant. Splitting the shoots is also another trick to reduce overcrowding, especially if you desire a singular plant instead of a bush.


Repotting is done because the plant has outgrown its current container, or the soil is damaged beyond repair through chemicals or root rot. Luckily, Chamaedorea Elegans plant grows slowly and will not outgrow an ordinary container for two to three years after planting. 

The roots also want a bit of stability and will not appreciate the disturbance that comes with repotting.

The tree-like growth habit allows you to use a large container from the beginning to minimize the need for repotting. Use a pot that is one or one and half size larger when repotting. However, avoid a container that is too large because it will take more time to drain water leading to soggy soil.

Use a peat-based mixture that will guarantee excellent drainage. Firm the soil around the plant so that it can hold the height and weight of emerging foliage. Repot during spring and early summer to provide the warm climate necessary for rejuvenation.


Parlor palms are propagated using seeds or by separating the shoots. The seeds are difficult to obtain, especially in dim indoor conditions. They also require special conditions to germinate and nurture in a nursery.

When using seeds, you require a tray with a pre-prepared potting mixture on which to establish your nursery. The soil must be moist yet still well-drained because the young shoots are sensitive to soggy soil. Support seed germination by providing temperatures between 85ºF (29.4ºC) and 95ºF (35ºC) through air conditioning or a heating mat.

Propagation by splitting the shoots should target the young plants. Split them from the bush using a sharp knife, ensuring that you capture some soil around the roots. You will need warm moist soil to stimulate root growth. 

Division affects the appearance of your plant in a huge way. You need to think through propagation by division and allow sufficient time for the plant to regrow.

Pest Prevention

Spider mites and root rot are the common problems you will encounter when growing the Chamaedorea Elegans palms. Spider mites appear when the air is too dry. The signs of spider mite infestation may include the curling or webbing of the underside of your leaves.

The best treatment for spider mites is cleaning the leaves using soapy water. Work on the upper and underside of the leaves but rinse the leaves to avoid interference from the soap. Isolating the plant is also an alternative to provide adequate aeration that chases the mites away.

Root rot arises from overwatering or soggy soil. The leaves begin to turn yellow, or the stem may turn black. Quick intervention is required because the damage can be irreversible.

The treatment for root rot includes improved drainage or repotting using a fresh soil mix. Flushing the soil regularly will also help you to maintain the right chemical balance and prevent soil-related infections.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chamaedorea Elegans (Parlour Palms)

Why is my parlor palm turning yellow?

This issue might be related to overwatering or underwatering. While parlor palms do not like a lot of water, it is disastrous to deny them enough water. Do not allow the soil to go completely dry before the next watering session. Quick intervention is required because the plant may go into shock and never recover. Provide sufficient water but also ensure that the soil drains adequately.

Should I cut off brown palm leaves?

Not yet if only the tips are brown. Because palm plants take time to grow, do not pull the pruner so fast before examining the cause. It could be inadequate watering or exposure to the sun. However, if the entire leaf turns brown, it is time to prune it away and boost the aesthetics of your plant.

Can yellow palm leaves turn green again?

Yes, if you intervene on time. Do not wait until the entire leaf turns yellow to water the plant or drain the soggy soil. Too much exposure to the sun will also produce similar results. Intervene early before most of the leaf is affected to take advantage of the reversible phase of yellowing leaves.

How fast do Chamaedorea Elegans plants grow?

It will take two to three years to reach a height of 2ft (0.6m). However, the rate of growth will depend on lighting, water, and fertilization. If the conditions do not allow, you will end up with a stunted mature plant.

How big do Chamaedorea Elegans plants grow?

In the wild, the plant can grow to 4ft and 6ft wide. However, the size reduces indoors based on the conditions provided. It will grow between 2ft-4ft (0.6m-1.2m) high and 3ft-4ft (0.9m-1.2m) wide.

How long do Chamaedorea Elegans plants live?

Weaker and crowded shoots will die fast. However, a few of them develop hard stems that can live for decades based on the amount of care and provision of the space to grow.

Does parlor palm purify the air?

Yes, the leaves give you cleaner air indoors. This is the reason you should keep them clean, dry, and free of pests.

Does a parlor palm tree bloom?

Yes, it will produce tiny yellow flowers between spring and autumn. Grow the palm in rich compost and provide enough light to enhance flowering.

Are parlor palms toxic to dogs?

No. The plant is safe for people, cats, dogs, and other animals indoors.

Can you plant a parlor plant outside?

Yes, but ensure that your area provides the conditions discussed above so that the plant thrives.

Like Palm trees? Check out the following guides to care for Cat Palm (Chamaedorea Cataractarum) and the Kentia Palm

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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