Chamaedorea elegans-Parlor Palm

Chamaedorea elegans-Parlor Palm #1 at 27″ tall on 12-18-09, #45-32.

Parlor Palm
Chamaedorea elegans Mart.
kam-ee-DOR-ee-uh  ELL-eh-ganz
Neanthe bella O.F. Cook

Chamaedorea elegans Mart. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Parlor Palm. It was first described as such by Carl (Karl) Friedrich Philipp von Martius in Linneae in 1830. It was also described as Neanthe bella by Orator Fuller Cook in Science in 1937. Over the years, it has been given many other scientific names, but the most common, and still used is Neanthe bella. No doubt, if you check the labels at Lowe’s, Wal-Mart or other stores, you are likely to see that name instead of Chamaedorea elegans.

There are currently 104 accepted species in the Chamaedorea genus listed on the Plants of the World Online website.

Chamaedorea elegans #1 at 32″ tall on 9-22-11, #80-13.

Suzanne bought 3 Parlor Palms from Lowe’s before she became ill in 2009. I named them #1, #2 and #3. They all had their own personalities, too. They were MUCH smaller when she bought them and I was surprised at how fast they grew. I measured them from time to time and #1, the largest, was around 36″ when I moved. #3 was shorter and bushier, and #2 was somewhere in-between.

Chamaedorea elegans #2 at 27″ tall on 9-22-11, #80-15.

I put all three in pots just alike in 2009. According to some authorities, a 10″ pot is large enough for just about any plant. You just have to add soil to the top off and on. Well, you know, a 10″ pot is big enough to handle for most plants anyway.

In 2011 I decided I better check the roots to see how root bound they were. I was shocked at what I saw. The only soil was on the top inch. The rest was SOLID roots. At first, I looked around for larger pots but I liked the pots they were in. SO, I got a sharp knife and cut a few inches off the sides and maybe 4 inches off the bottom. If plants could talk, I would have gotten an ear full. For months they would give me the birdie every time I came near them. After a while, they were OK with it and forgave me and continued to grow as if nothing had happened. I kept telling them how important it is to forgive.

Chamaedorea elegans #2 at 27″ tall on 9-22-11, #80-15.

I kept the Parlor Palms outside during warmer weather and brought them snide for the winter where they stayed most of the time in the parlor. If it got too cold, I moved them into the den.

Family: Arecaceae
Origin: Southern Mexico and Guatemala
Zones: USDA Zones 10-12 (° F
Size: 2-6’ tall x 2-4’ wide
Light: Light to full shade
Soil: Rich, well-drained soil
Water: Average. Information suggests they like moist soil.

Parlor Palms make excellent indoor plants as they adapt to lower light levels. They like their soil moist, but mine dried out somewhere between watering. Sometimes they will tell you when it is time. They also like a good misting once a week inside with the dryer air. It is also recommended they be fertilized once a month during the growing period. Watering should be reduced and don’t fertilize during the winter.

Chamaedorea elegans #2 in the parlor of the mansion on 10-21-12, #123-9.

When I moved back to Missouri in February 2013 I gave my Parlor Palms to a good friend of mine. I hope he still has them! Out of all the plants I gave away, I really miss my Parlor Palms.

Someday I will no doubt have more of these. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you.