When Is An Indoor Palm...?

Jrg is growing a lot of outdoor palms indoors.You can too...
Jörg Schumann, Rathausplatz 2,09247 Röhrsdorf, Germany
Chamaerops No.32 Autumn 1998

If you ask this question in some nurseries, you will surely get the answer: Kentia, Date-Palm, ParlourPalm, Washingtonia and Areca-Palm. That is to say: Howea forsteriana, Phoenix canariensis, Chamaedorea elegant, Washingtonia filifera and Dypsis lutescens Well. If you ask a palm fan, these list will completed by some Dypsis sp., Archontophoenix sp., more Chamaedorea sp., Livistona sp. and Ravenea rivularis, perhaps some would add Veitchia and Ptychosperma Mostly that's all.

Some members may recall my article in issue 28. In my opinion it may be interesting for tome palm-freaks to have a look to the background of my palmy flat. In 1998 my palm collection hat nearly doubled and there are more than 200 species in my flat. Among of them are tome species I'm very proud of it, like Socratea, tome Calamus, Hydriastele wendlandiana, Itaya amicorum, Desmoncus giganteus, Linospadix albertisiana, Marojejya darianii and and and...

Maybe tome of you would like to cultivate these palms (or others), but have not tried it to far, because these are 'normally' not palms for indoor cultivation. You may be right, but have you ever tested the theory?

Because I don't have a garden or a greenhouse I began 8 years ago to cultivate difficult palms indoors. If you provide the palm with indoor conditions you certainly have to be more careful with regard to light, warmth and humidity. This includes of course watching exactly how the plants respond if the conditions are incorrect. Yet, it takes a lot of time but it's worth it!

However, I have to say something more: directly behind one of my windows there it a home made indoorgreenhouse (3,Om high, 1,Sm x 1,Om wide) where grow the most difficult species where they get extra humidity and special light or shade. But: in former times up to 1997 they are growing well without it.

Let me say tome words about my palmy flat. In my bedroom are alto some palms but they have to put up with the same conditions that suit me! And they teem to put up with it quite well. No heating, no special light, and normal humidity. So here you can find my Trachy's, Phoenix, Livistona, Ceroxylon, Chamaedorea, Butia, Jubaea, Brahea, Rhapis, Sabal and Synechanthus fibrosus Also in the winter there are no problems, because I also would not allow myself to be frozen!

In my living room I try to get a average humidity of 60 to 70%. This involves spraying once or twice a week. Here are 3 'normal' windows but no additional light. Inside my indoorgreenhouse are perhaps 100 palms up to 1,2m tome seedlings and many just germinated palms. Here it it nearly constant 24 deg.C and an average humidity of 80 % and some low-energylamps, which are on for up to 16 hours a day.

Did you ever consider building an indoor greenhouse? If you clear the hurdle called family (I think the real palm-fan always bat to clear this hurdle!) you really can start. You can make it at complex or at simple at you like. I only can remember my decision. From the idea to planting it takes only 48 hours. Some timber, nails, screws, foil and time for doing handicraft, are all you need. And it was accepted, by plants and family too! If you are not good with your bands, you alto can use a tall aquarium, but without the fish. By using special lighting it can be highly attractive. At soon at it is done you can start with even the most difficult palm species. In my indoor-greenhouse there are at the moment for example Wettinia sp., Johannesteijsmannia sp. and Metroxylon sp., the last surely not for very long!

But let me tell you something else. It's also good for germination of palm seeds. You can't know exactly the viability hut I had only one complete failure and that was with Bactris setosa seeds. The germination times quoted in different literature are often much shorter in reality, for example Beccariophoenix madagascariensis, Areca vestiaria and Verschaffeltia splendida starts germination within 2 weeks after sowing, whereas Chamaedorea seifrizii took 6 months and Licuala spinosa and Hydriastele wendlandiana really took 12 months to makes me happy. Well, I was ready more than once to throw them away! If you want to try seedgermination, let me tell you something: Don't throw away the seeds until they are mouldy. It is often worth while to wait a little longer. But I think this is not the problem for a palm-freak. By talking about seed germination it seems to be important to have absolute darkness and higher temperatures for making germination times shorter.

Let me come back to my question in the headline. It's simple: An indoor palm is an indoor growing palm. Sometimes there's only one problem. Try it! By my experiences I can give you some suggestions to try. All these will do well:

  • Nephrosperma vanhoutteanum
  • Nearly all Veitchias
  • Astrocaryum sp.
  • Arenga sp.
  • Pseudophoenix sp.
  • A lot of Dypsis, especially the 'tristichous'-species
  • Cyphophoenix
  • and many more.


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