PARLOUR PALM  Chamaedorea elegans collinia

PARLOUR PALM Chamaedorea elegans collinia

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This palm is able to live in low-light conditions! Chamaedorea elegans, the neanthe bella palm or parlour palm, is a species of small palm tree. The parlor palm is one of the most heavily sold houseplant palms in the world. It is one of several species with leaves that are harvested as xate. This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

A woody, rhizomatous plant with a slender green trunk, it is found in tropical areas and grows to 2–3 m (6 ft 7 in–9 ft 10 in) tall (rarely to 4–5 m (13–16 ft). A remarkable feature of this species is the early age of the onset of flowering, with some plants blooming with a height of only 30 cm. The small, light yellow, yellow, or orange-red odorous flowers appear on irregularly branched petioles that grow below or among the leaf. They emerge from the trunk as lateral buds and open in the form of clusters of small balls without petals. These have a certain resemblance to those of the mimosa. Occasionally, pea-sized berries develop after flowering, which are 6mm in diameter, and dark, collected in paniculate inflorescences.

It is often cultivated in temperate regions as a houseplant and in gardens in Southeastern United States, where it grows to 2 m (6 ft 7 in) tall with very slow growth. It is most-often planted and sold in batches of 5-30 seedlings. Over time, a few emergent plants begin to dominate as the weaker/smaller seedlings are crowded out for light and eventually die, leaving within a few years of purchase a few survivors which develop stems and can live for many decades in a pot. It tolerates low levels of humidity and light, though it prefers medium to high humidity and bright indirect light. Chamaedorea elegans is intolerant of frost and must be kept indoors in winter in non-tropical climates.

It enjoys light potting soil, good humidity and moderate lighting without direct sunlight, but it accommodates a certain dryness, high humidity or reduced lighting. In winter, it is preferable that the temperature of the room it's housed in does not drop below 12-14°C. The plant was successful in the Victorian era because it survived in the dark, unheated British apartments and greenhouses which were used to grow and cultivate exotic plants, a practice fashionable at the time.

In a potted environment, pruning can be done with mature plants from the bottom only (cutting the top off is fatal) and only if adventitious roots are available. As the stem grows additional roots, the bottom of the stem can be severed and the plant re-rooted from the roots higher up the stem.

Height: 2 m (6'7")

Hardiness zones: 10-12

Seeds per pack: 5

Germination: Plant the seed in a small pot with seed-start mix. Be sure the seed is covered with the potting mix so it doesn’t dry out. Place the pot in a warm area, as parlor palm seeds germinate best between 85 and 95 F (29-32 C.). A heat mat is the best way to maintain the proper heat. In their natural environment, palms grow under forest canopies, so protect them from direct full sunlight. Water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. If necessary, cover the pot loosely with plastic. Parlor palm seed germination may require several months.

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