Also known as the Sentry palm, the Kentia palms evergreen qualities make it an attractive ornamental plant all year round. The plant is currently considered ‘vulnerable’ by the World Conservation Union due to its decline in numbers over recent years.
A bushy plant, the Kentia palm can grow to be quite large, with leaves up to a length of 1.5 metres. The dark-green leaf fronds arch from upright stems and the plant bears small flowers followed by dark red or orange oval fruits, although it rarely flowers when grown under glass.
The kentia palm is native to Australia, but has been grown indoors and in greenhouses in Europe since the mid-19th Century. Classified as H1, the Kentia palm needs a heated greenhouse or indoor conditions in a loamy compost with equal parts of leaf mould and composted bark. Make sure the soil or growing medium is well drained.
A popular favourite among houseplants for its architectural, upright structure, the Kentia palm is widely available and is sold in various sizes and stages of growth. Propagation is with seeds, which should be sown in temperatures above 19 degrees centigrade.
The genus is Howea and the species is forsteriana. It belongs to the Arecaceae family. The Kentia palm has several common names, which include Thatch-leaf palm, Paradise palm and Flat palm.
Use a liquid fertiliser on a monthly basis and provide moderate humidity during the growing season. Protect from direct sunlight, but place the plant in bright light. There’s no need to prune this palm. It does especially well in a conservatory with a north- or east-facing aspect.
Did You Know?
The Kentia palm can grow up to 12 metres tall with a spread of 8 metres. Being slow growing, however, it takes 20 − 25 years to reach this size. The palm has been given the RHS’s Award of Garden Merit for its outstanding properties.