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Adding an indoor palm tree to your plant collection is a surefire way to bring in some flair and a tropical element to your space. If you're looking for a particularly low-maintenance species, the bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) is an excellent option.
Named for the way its stems resemble bamboo, this palm is a perfect option for beginner plant parents—not only because it’s easy to care for, but because its large size and sprawling, spiky foliage make it a visual stunner. For pet owners, it's an especially great choice, as bamboo palms are not toxic to dogs or cats. This tall indoor tree will happily add some depth to your garden outside or bring a new character to your houseplant jungle.
- Botanical name: Chamaedorea seifrizii
- Common name: Bamboo palm
- Origin: Central and Northeastern Mexico
- Plant Type: Evergreen perennial houseplant or tree
- Mature size: Three to 20 feet high, one to 10 feet wide
- Sun exposure: Partial sun, shade
- Soil type: Well-drained potting mix
- Soil pH: 6.0
- Toxicity: Non-toxic
When it comes to watering, bamboo palms grow best with consistently moist soil during the spring and summer growing seasons. During the off-season, your plant will likely require less water, but it's important to ensure the soil never completely dries out.
If your bamboo palm is in an outdoor garden or yard, it can tolerate a range of soil conditions, though it prefers rich, well-draining, and slightly acidic soil. When potting your plant and displaying it inside, your palm will appreciate well-draining soil or potting mix. Make sure your planter has a drainage hole to help avoid water saturation at the roots.
Use a palm tree fertilizer every few months during the growing season to feed your palm. For outdoor palms, sprinkle the fertilizer evenly on the soil under the rim of the leaves and the outer edge of the tree. Never fertilize right at the trunk of your bamboo palm.
For indoor palms, follow the instructions on your fertilizer before mixing it with water. Applying too much fertilizer can cause leaf burn.
Best Growing Conditions for Bamboo Palms
Contrary to popular belief, not all palm trees need full sun to thrive. One of the most appealing factors of the bamboo palm is its ability to grow in shady conditions: This low-light preference makes it versatile for your garden, and it offers up a variety of places in your home for it to grow healthy.
Keep your bamboo palm in an area with temperatures ranging between 65 and 80 degrees, and avoid overwatering. Faded or yellowed leaves indicate that this plant has received too much water, while brown, dry leaves mean it's time to increase watering.
If you're dealing with an extra-dry palm, take it outside for a soak: Ensure the pot has proper drainage holes on the bottom, then add plenty of water. The roots will absorb what they need, and any excess water can easily run out of the pot.
Your bamboo palm will be happiest in bright, indirect sunlight. Be careful not to expose it to too much light, or the leaves may begin to scorch. While it is a relatively low-maintenance plant, you’ll still want to make sure that your bamboo palm is protected from strong winds outside (or that it’s not displayed close to a radiator indoors, as this could possibly dry it out).
Types of Bamboo Palms
The parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) is the most popular variety of bamboo palm. This species earned its name thanks to its indoor growing ease and low-light needs. The dwarf bamboo palm (Chamaedorea radicalis) is smaller than the bamboo palm—growing three to five feet wide and four to six feet tall—but it can also withstand cooler temperatures, making it more versatile. The hardy bamboo palm (Chamaedorea microspadix) can survive through freezing temperatures as low as 23 degrees, and it can also thrive in heavy shade.
How to Propagate Your Bamboo Palm
While bamboo palms are typically grown from seeds, it's still possible to propagate your palm to grow new offsets into new plants—but it's not recommended for beginner gardeners. This process can damage the mother plant, so it's important to propagate only mature palms and be careful when making cuts (or for those without a green thumb, to purchase a new plant). Here's how to propagate your bamboo palm:
Step 1: Gather a clean, sharp gardening blade, fresh soil, and a new pot.
Step 2: Prepare two pots (one for the mother plant, one for the offset) with fresh, well-draining potting soil and water until evenly moist.
Step 3: Remove your bamboo palm from its pot and shake away any excess soil surrounding its roots. With your gardening blade, gently begin cutting from top to bottom, starting at the base of the offset until you've reached the roots of the plant. Include the offset's root system when cutting.
Step 4: Once the offset is removed, repot both plants separately. Place them in a space with temperatures on the higher end of their tolerance (70 to 80 degrees) with plenty of humidity. Monitor their growth closely for several months as they begin growing stronger.
Common Problems With Bamboo Palms
While bamboo palms are some of the easiest houseplants to care for, they're still susceptible to a few common growing problems like sun scorch and pests. Here's how to treat your palm to keep it growing healthy:
If your bamboo palm's leaves are turning brown, it could be a sign of sun scorch—which might occur if you recently moved your plant to a brighter window—but it’s more likely typical aging. If older leaves are turning brown, simply prune them away by cutting off the affected fronds close to the soil’s surface.
Spider Mites and Mealybugs
Bamboo palms aren't typically the targets of pests, but they are sometimes susceptible to spider mites or mealybugs. If you see signs of an infestation, rinse the leaves as soon as possible with water, then treat the entire plant with equal parts rubbing alcohol and water.
Potting and Repotting Bamboo Palms
Bamboo palms don’t love to be disturbed, so only repot when your plant is obviously getting too big for its current container (typically every two to three years). Size up a container and carefully transplant it to its new home. Be sure to choose a pot with sufficient drainage holes, and opt for a terracotta style if possible to prevent excess water from building up.
How Fast Do Bamboo Palms Grow?
These slow-growing palms only tend to grow a few inches per year, but they can grow faster when planted outside.
How Long Can Bamboo Palms Live?
Many species of palms can live up to 100 years outdoors. As houseplants, they're likely to live more than 10 years inside with proper light and water.
What's the Difference Between Bamboo Palms and Parlor Palms?
Parlor palms do not grow as tall as bamboo palms, and their fronds grow on separated stems rather than the bamboo palm's central "trunk," or cluster, of stems with individual fronds.
Can Bamboo Palms Grow Outdoors?
Yes. Bamboo palms can thrive outdoors in warmer climates (USDA hardiness zones 10-11), and can even reach heights of 20 feet under the right conditions.
Bamboo Palm. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 14 September 2021.