The Best Way to Choose an Indoor Palm

Updated on January 28, 2020
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna writes about the care of plants (indoors, outdoors, and in gardens). She wrote an orchid care booklet—a companion piece for workshops.

Plant Rescue
Plant Rescue

Choosing the perfect palm for the indoors can be tricky. In my article, readers will find everything they need to know about my two recommendations: the spineless yucca and the pygmy date palm.

Spineless Yucca

Most people are looking for a flexible plant to use indoors that is versatile in its appearance and size, look to the spineless yucca plant. The spineless yucca is a container plant that is virtually easy to manage as long as the growing conditions are correct. The plant matches any interior design as a single bush, a small tree, or as staggered canes.

A rough, thick, cane-like trunk is slightly large at the base. The trunk branches occasionally in older plants. The leathery, light, or pale-green sword-shaped leaves are stalkless and closely spaced, radiating out from the end of the trunk, narrowing to a tapering point.

Southwest Tropics

The spineless yucca originates from the southwest tropics where the sun is prevalent, and shade is sparse.

In its natural habitat, the plant can mature to 30 feet tall with dark-green leaves, blossoms, and fruit. Indoors the plant can get as tall as 5 to 7 feet seldom blooming and fruitless with paler leaves.

The leaves grow from 1 to 3 feet long and 1 to 2 inches wide. Once in a while, shoppers can find character stumps, which can give some very unusual looks.


Lots of Sunlight

These lighting and watering tips keep your Spineless Yucca healthy:

  • Keep the plant healthy indoors with lots of sunlight.
  • Place the plant in an east, west, or south-facing window.
  • Make sure you apply proper watering and maintenance techniques if you have to have the plant in low light.
  • Allow the top 1/4 to 1/3 of the soil to dry out before watering well in the bright or high light.
  • Allow 3/4 of the soil to dry down between waterings in low light.
  • Do not let the plant sit in a puddle that can accumulate in the bottom of the container, causing root rot, especially in low-light areas.
  • Overwatering will show as foliage collapse, brown spots, or cane rot, especially at the soil line.

Southwestern Look

Another unique quality of the spineless yucca plant is that it can handle variable temperature ranges.

With sufficient air circulation, the spineless yucca plant can take high temperatures in the 90’s to low in the ’30s.

The spineless yucca flexibility makes it a smart choice for lobbies or home entryways. These plants group well with cactus creating a Southwestern look.

Insect-free Plant

Another advantage of the spineless yucca is virtually insect-free. Spider mites don’t like this plant. At times mealybugs or scales may be found on the plant. More common is that the plant is insect-free. Use an approved insecticide when insects are detected.

When buying a spineless yucca plant, choose a reputable supplier. Adopt a spineless Yucca where the roots are strong, and avoid any that have “cane wobble.”

Life Improver
Life Improver

Pygmy Date Palm

Pygmy Date Palm is an indoor plant that makes any homeowner happy because it is easy to grow and adapts well to any surroundings. The plant's feathery arching fronds offer a stately appearance. The plant's feathery arching fronds provide a majestic presence. Its delicate, wispy, and fragile look fools people in thinking it is a weak plant - it is hardy.

Farm 8
Farm 8

Loves Warmth

These lighting and watering tips keep your pygmy date palm healthy:

  • Place the date palm in bright yet indirect, natural light throughout the year.
  • They grow happily in sunlight near an east window that has the morning sun.
  • When watering, pour water directly on the soil and keep it moist. It will keep the aggressive root system happy.
  • Keep soil from becoming excessively wet because otherwise, root rot will result.
  • Discard excess water in the saucer at the bottom of the planter, especially during the cold weather or in an air-conditioned home.
  • Let the excess water sit in the saucer for a week during the hot weather or in warmer indoors.
  • Avoid watering until the saucer is empty.
  • Avoid drying out the soil because palms tend to droop, and then their color alters to light green.
  • Protect date palms from drafts near air conditioning, doors, and windows—they love warmth.

More Caring Tips for Date Palm

  • Make sure the date palm is comfortable in temperatures of 60 degrees at night and between 70 and 80 degrees during the day.
  • Winter, the temperatures can vary slightly with 55 to 60 degrees because they are not actively growing.
  • Schedule regular times to rinse the foliage to clean the plant. Wash with lukewarm water. Place the palm in the shower is the best way to do it.
  • Alternatively, take it outside and spray it very hard but with h fine spray. The lukewarm water helps keep pests away.
  • Set palms outside during the summer months. They love it done on a gradual approach to the heat and light levels.
  • Keep the plant out of direct sunlight.
  • Give the palm the brightest indoor light during the growing periods.
  • Add fertilizer when the palm is vigorously growing. Dilute liquid fertilizer or add a slow-release brand in the planter.

What do you think?

Do you feel confident growing indoor plants?

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Moss - Enhance the Look of Your Palms

A great way to enhance the look of your palms is to place moss around them in decorative containers. Most nurseries carry the type of moss you need to do this easy task. I use SuperMoss - Forest Moss Fresh Green because the product stays fresh longer, and it spreads out nicely around my palms. The way to place the moss around your plant is to lay over the soil, but not too thick. You will see the difference it makes in decorating.

If you are already using moss, you need to replace your moss about once a year. Doing so in a timely fashion is less messy and prevents an ugly moss ring around your containers. As moss gets older and older, its losses it’s color and slowly disintegrates into tiny pieces. Those small pieces fall inside the plant's container or worse fall on your nice beautiful carpet.

Perfect Palm

Once you choose the perfect palm, you can review this article, care for your palm, and share your success here or with your family and friends. All in all, you will discover how natural the spineless yucca and pygmy date palm is easy to grow.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Kenna McHugh


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