A Complete Guide to Cat Palm Care

Cat Palm
Cat Palm (Source: Reddit)

If you are a fan of large beginner-friendly houseplants like I am, the Cat Palm plant might be the right choice for you!

Despite its resemblance to a palm tree, the Cat Palm is a plant. This plant can add a tropical feel to any room with its clusters of large, striking green leaves.

Generally, the Cat Palm plant prefers bright indirect light along with loose, aerated, and well-draining soil. Similarly, the plant needs a minimum of at least 50% humidity level to thrive. Therefore, temperatures ranging between 70°F and 80 °F are ideal for Cat Palm. 

The luscious leaves of the Cat Palm plant. (Source: Amazon)

We’ll show you how to care for your Cat Palm and get the most out of it in this article!

Similarly, we will discuss key maintenance components like lighting, watering, humidity, soil, and repotting.

With the right amount of love and care, Cat Palm will be able to thrive and grow, making any corner of space brighten up.

Plant Overview

Before we get into the care, it’s always a good idea to understand where and how plants grow in nature, so let’s look at that.

Scientific NameChamaedorea cataractarum
NativeSoutheastern Mexico
USDAUSDA zones 11 and 12
NatureTropical
Average HeightIndoor: Over 3’ feet tall
Outdoor: Over 6’ feet
ToxicityNon-toxic
Pest/DiseasesSpider mites, browning of leaves, salt accumulation
Propagation Seed, Stem Cutting
Appearance Compact, bushy appearance

Cat Palm Care- #1 Best Tips

The Cat Palm is a low-maintenance plant that may be grown by anybody with green fingers.

In this article, we’ll look at the fundamentals for cultivating a Cat Palm indoors.

1. Sunlight and Location

In comparison to other indoor houseplants, the plant thrives in bright indirect light and demands more bright light.

Similarly, this plant thrives in a room that faces south or west. It can handle some direct sunshine first thing in the morning, but too much sunlight will burn the leaves.

To avoid direct sunlight exposure, position it about 2 feet (60 cm) away from the window.

In addition, try not to place your cat palm on the actual windowsill to prevent burning the foliage. Instead, set the plant back 1 to 3 feet.

To filter the full sunlight, you might also use a thin curtain.

Bright indirect sunlight is ideal for Cat Palm. (Source: Unsplash)

The Palm may reach a width of at least 3 feet (90 cm). Thus, make sure to rotate it regularly so that the rear leaves get all of the light they require.

This Palm may reach a width of at least 3 feet (90 cm). Make sure to rotate it regularly so that the rear leaves get all of the light they require.

The Palm is also a good choice for offices since it responds well to artificial light.

You may keep your Cat Palm in a darker space that requires a splash of green by using artificial or grow lights.

2. Watering Requirement

Palm appreciates frequent hydration and wet but not soggy soil. When the top inch of the soil seems dry to the touch, give the plant a good watering.

However, avoid letting water linger in the container tray and water the soil evenly to reach all roots.

The Cat Palm is drought resistant, although it may also be stressed by overwatering.

When the soil is wet, nutrient absorption and air circulation around the roots are harmed.

Similarly, it can also serve as a breeding environment for fungus and bacteria, resulting in palm issues such as root rot.

When watering your Cat Palm, it is essential to note the time of year, the temperature of the room, and the size of the container.

Plants require more water in the spring and summer, but you will need to lessen your watering plan in the winter.

watering Plant
Watering Plant (Photo: Unsplash)

The Palm will require more regular watering if the room is boiling and dry.

In addition, always test the soil with your finger or a digital moisture meter if you’re unsure.

Get the full guide and tips on how often to water your Chinese Evergreen.

Tips for Watering Cat Palm

  • As tap water may include fluoride, chlorine, or other pollutants that harm palms, it’s best to water your Palm with distilled or rainwater.
  • When watering your tropical home plants, use lukewarm water since cold water shocks them.
  • You may water Cat Palm every five to seven days in the summer, but you can water it once a week in the winter.
  • To keep your Cat Palm moist, mist it every day, especially in dry and hot weather.

3. Ideal Temperature

Cat Palm may be cultivated in a typical residential environment. The recommended temperature range is 70 °F to 80 °F (21 °C to 27 °C).

Cataract palms thrive in USDA zones 10 and 11, where they may be grown outside. However, if you can plant them in a safe area in zone 9, cat palms will thrive in your backyard.

However, ensure that the soil drains adequately and that the cat palms receive full sun and some shade during the day as the plant cannot survive extreme heat.

Avoid exposing it to extremes of temperature since this can cause the leaves to be yellow.

Your Cat Palm should never be placed near a radiator or heating vent, nor should it be placed below an air conditioner.

Similarly, keep the plant away from drafts and cold sources like single-paned windows, as it can’t stand being exposed to the cold for long periods.

Likewise, palms may be grown in pots outside during the summer if you reside in a cooler region. Water whenever the soil partially dries in a sunny place in your garden or patio.

However, when the temperature drops below 50°F (10°C) at night, the cat palms are kept inside as they cannot bear cold.

4. Humidity Requirements

Because Cat Palms are tropical plants, they require at least 50% humidity to grow. As this is greater than the usual for most houses, you’ll probably need to increase the humidity surrounding your Palm.

Here are a few ideas to increase the humidity for the betterment of the plant:

  • Invest in a humidifier: It’s the ultimate fail-safe way for increasing humidity, and while it’s a bit pricy, it’s well worth it if you want to keep your Cat Palm happy.
  • Use a pebble tray: It’s easy and practical to lay your plant pot on top of a tray filled with pebbles and water, and the evaporation will help enhance the humidity surrounding your Palm.
  • Keep your Palm in the bathroom: it’s the most humid place in the house, and it’s excellent for developing the Cat Palm. Just make sure there’s a window in the bathroom so the plant gets enough light.
  • Misting: This may be used to assist the humidity surrounding the Palm, but you’ll need to do so at least once a day to see any long-term results.

 

Humidifier for Cat Palm plant. (Source: Amazon)

5. Soil Mix

Several variables can influence the ideal soil consistency for cat palms.

Cat palms, sometimes known as cataract palms, require a light, quick-draining potting mix. A blend of potting soil, peat moss, and perlite is great for these low-maintenance cat palms.

In addition, this mix of components keeps the growth medium moist without getting soggy or excessively wet. The ideal soil pH for Cat Palm development ranges from slightly acidic to neutral (6.1-7.5).

However, if the soil is excessively heavy or has too much clay, it will need to be amended.

Perlite, bark chips, tiny pebbles, or coarse horticultural sand are suitable soil additives for increased drainage.

You may buy pre-made palm tree potting mixtures at any gardening store, but you can also make your own.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • 3 parts African violets soil mix to 1 part garden loam
  • 1 pound of potting soil, 1 pound of cactus soil, and 1 pound of perlite
  • 1 tbsp. Sand, 1 tbsp. Pine bark, 1 tbsp. peat
Soil mixed with Organic Material
Soil mixed with Organic Material (Source: Pexels)

6. Potting and Repotting

It would be best if you only had to repot Cat Palm once every three years on average. This Palm thrives in a snugly fitting container.

Similarly, only replace it with a fresh pot if you see the roots emerging through the drainage hole or suffering.

Repotting the Cat Palm plant is best done in the spring or summer.

It is essential to choose a new container that is just 1 size larger or 2 inches (5 cm) broader than the old one.

Plastic, ceramic, or terracotta are all acceptable materials for the pot. However, as pots made of plastic or enamel hold more moisture, it is the ideal pot for your Cat Palm.

The only thing to look for is drainage holes at the bottom of the new container, which will keep the Cat Palm roots from resting in the water.

Before repotting your Palm, make sure to hydrate it for a day or two, loosen the soil and eliminate transplant shock, making it simpler to deal with.

Pots for repotting the Cat Palm. (Source: Unsplash)

Step by Step Guide to Repotting the Cat Palm plant

  • Remove the plant from the pot slowly.
  • To prevent damaging any roots that have come out through the drainage holes, gently push them back in with your fingertips.
  • Remove part of the old dirt gently, but be careful not to shake the plant or try to disentangle the root ball.
  • It is crucial to note that the roots are fragile and can easily snap, causing the plant to go into shock. However, if you come across any damaged roots, discard them as they no longer help grow.
  • Place the root ball on top of the potting mix in the container. Fill up any gaps at the top and on the sides.
  • Lastly, avoid overworking the soil since it might compress and choke the roots.

7. Proper Fertilization

When it comes to fertilizers, cat palm trees don’t have a high requirement, typical of slow-growing plants.

Diluted nitrogen-rich fertilizer can be used once a month to encourage lush, robust foliage.

Similarly, fed the plant with fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer, pausing in the fall and winter.

Likewise, make sure the soil is moist when feeding your Palm since fertilizers will burn the roots if applied to dry soil.

However, it is crucial to know that fertilizer salts in the soil might make Cat Palm susceptible.

As a result, flushing the soil once or twice a year is suggested during the plant’s growing season.

Thus, put the pot in a large sink or bathtub and run water through the soil slowly for a few minutes. Then, allow the pot to drain completely before returning it to its container tray. 

In addition,  a diluted balanced houseplant fertilizer is also the finest fertilizer for cat palm plants.

Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food (Liquid) is now the most loved fertilizer for the Cat Palm as recommended by gardeners all around!

8. Pruning and Maintenance

The Cat Palm requires light pruning. First, you should remove the brown, withered leaves at the bottom for the plant’s growth.

Pruning cat palms is mainly done to remove brown leaves. However, cat palm leaves can become brown due to overwatering, sunburn, or too much fertilizer.

Thus, pruning is necessary to remove the dead leaves and improve the look of the plant while preserving the foliage and leaves’ lustrous and green.

Because Cat Palms grow naturally bushy, there’s no need to remove any green leaves to make them fuller.

Leaves of the Cat Palm plant. (Source: Max Pixel)

Pruning Guide

  • Cut the frond of the cat palm at its base using sharp pruning scissors. Similarly, to avoid spreading pests or illnesses to your other plants, disinfect your instruments after each use.
  • Grasp the frond you want to get rid of and trace its stem down to the stubby trunk.
  • With the hand pruners, cut the frond at the base. Make the incision as near to the trunk as feasible, being careful not to hurt or cut adjacent frond stems in the process.
  • Lastly, Remove the trimmed fronds from the cluster and toss them in the compost.

9. Growth Habits

The Cat Palm is a slow-growing plant that might take up to ten years to reach full maturity. However, when cultivated inside as a houseplant, it can reach a height of over 3′ feet.

Likewise, when planted outdoors, it can reach a height of over 6′ feet.

Cat palm has a clump-forming growth habit and typically develops big and dense clumps when mature, with green cane-like leaf stalks and glossy, dark green pinnate leaves with long thin leaflets.

10. Cat Palm Blooms

In late winter or early spring, the dioecious cat palm produces a brilliant yellow pendulous inflorescence.

Similarly, the formation of sessile fruits on the flower stalks follows the blooming phase.

When young, the fruits are glossy and oval, and they are dark green. However, they turn black as they mature.

By providing indirect light, 70 °F to 80 °F temperature, and the necessary care for the Cat Palm, you will in no time be able to grow these blooms of the plant!

11. Pests in Cat Palm

Spider mites, mealybugs, whitefly, and scale are all common pests on cat palms.

Apply a neem oil solution or wipe the leaves with insecticidal soap regularly to eliminate cat palm pests.

Maintaining proper humidity levels also aids in the prevention of some pests.

Similarly, to avoid yellowing leaves, it’s critical to get rid of pests from cat palms as soon as possible.

The following signs can identify pest infestations on cat palms:

  • Spiders Mites: As the first indicator of a spider mite infestation, look for webbing beneath the arching palm fronds.
  • Scales: They usually appear as little brown growths on the palm stalks.
  • Mealybugs: The mealybugs leave a fuzzy white material on the Palm’s leaf, which you can see. The small white insects may also be seen creeping on stems and under leaves.
  • White Aphids: It might be white aphids if you detect tiny white flies around your palms. Reduce the number of flies by using yellow sticky fly traps.
Pests Preventive Measures Solutions
Spider mites Apply water to pathways and other dusty areas at regular intervals, Clean and sterilize your equipment. The rubbing alcohol or neem oil you have around the house also can kill spider mites.
Scales Prune and dispose of infested branches, twigs and leaves.Remove existing scale on houseplants by rubbing gently with a facial-quality sponge or cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
MealybugsReducing feeding and watering, wipe foliage regularlyMix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with few drops of Dawn dish soap and 1 quart (32oz) of water and spray it on the plant.
White Aphids Don't over fertilize your plants, check your plants frequently for the presence of aphidsSpray neem oil, insecticidal soaps, and horticultural oils

12. Fungal and Bacterial Diseases in Cat Palm

Cat palms are susceptible to a fungal disease known as leaf spot. Leaf Spot is caused by the fungus Alternaria brassicae. Similarly, most illnesses that threaten cat palms are caused by their roots resting in wet soil.

The continual moisture encourages fungal infections, which stunt the growth of your cat palm.

Leaf spot is characterized by reddish patches on the leaves of your cat palm. A grayish-white dusty covering commonly identifies powdery mildew.

Get to know about the various diseases that affect the String of frogs and more.

Thus, Cat palms are susceptible to fungus root illnesses, which can finally destroy them.

You may treat the diseases with a fungal spray, either homemade or purchased.

Likewise, you may assist avoid this, as with any other fungal houseplant illness, by not soaking the leaves when you water them and boosting the air circulation in the room where your cat palm is located.

Another common issue in Cat Palm is root rot which causes the leaves to become brown.

Diseases Preventive Measures Solutions
Leaf SpotAvoid wetting fronds during hydration.Prune away the infected fronds.
Brown Leaves Do not over/ under water your plant. Mist your cat palm daily with lukewarm, distilled water
Root rotAvoid water splashing on foliage and only water when the soil partly dries to prevent root rot. Repot the dying cat palm in fresh, sterile soil

13. Propagation of Cat Palm

Cat palm plants are grown from seeds that take a long time to develop, and seedlings take years to mature into gorgeous plants.

Some of the effective propagation methods are:

  • Seed Propagation
  • Root propagation
  • Base propagation

Out of all of the mentioned propagation methods, separating new growth from the base of the plant, known as suckers or offsets, is the best technique to propagate cat palms.

It’s as simple as removing the suckers from the primary plant. Likewise, cat palm propagation is simple since these offsets generally have their roots.

Root Propagation

  • Take the cat palm out of the container and search for the sucker with the most roots.
  • Cut the offset away from the main plant using a clean, sharp knife.
  • Fill a new container halfway with cat palm soil and insert the new palm plant.
  • Similarly, fill the rest of the space with potting soil and water well.
  • To improve humidity, place the propagating cat palm in a plastic bag and set it in a bright, sunny location that is not in direct sunlight.
  • If the soil around the plant becomes dry, water it.
  • Remove the plastic cover after a few weeks and continue to care for the cat palm usuallY.

Seed Propagation

The seed propagation strategy is time-consuming and not consistently effective. Cat Palm seeds must be gathered fresh from the fruit, and until your palm tree has fruited, you are unlikely to locate healthy seeds.

The seeds take many weeks to germinate, and the young plant takes a long time to establish itself.

However, if you believe that patience is the key to success, well, in this case, to a Cat Palm, then below is a guided process for seed propagation!

  • Plant the seed in a tiny container with a very thin layer of soil, or even half-buried, to sprout.
  • After you’ve planted the palm seed, set the container in a warm, humid environment.
  • Similarly, the placement of a window box in a steamy bathroom should be ideal.
  • However, ff you can also cover the container in a plastic bag or plastic food wrap and store it somewhere warm, such as the top of your refrigerator or a warm ledge.
  • The time it takes for palm seeds to germinate varies significantly between species, but it’s longer than you’re used to.
  • Likewise, don’t be concerned if the seed begins to look ragged while you wait. Palm seeds frequently shrivel and appear to be dead before they sprout.
  • After sprouting the seedlings, place them in a warm (at least 75 F) and humidified environment.
  • Palm saplings require a lot of light as well, and many species flourish in dappled sunshine.
  • Although palm seedlings do not require fertilizer at first, it is a good idea to put them on a light liquid fertilizer once they begin to develop actively.
  • Lastly, you may bring the Palm inside and transplant it into a larger pot once it has acquired several sets of leaves and the leaves have begun to take their mature appearance.

Read to find out how to propagate the beautiful Cape Primerose through seeds!

Cat palms should always be propagated in the spring when growth is at its peak.

FAQs about Cat Palm

Are Cat Palms Poisonous?

The Cat Palm does not harm animals. For example, the Palm does not feature on the lists of poisonous plants for dogs.

According to ASPCA, Cat Palm (Chamaedorea) is non-toxic to dogs and cats.

Before purchasing a plant, double-check the name on the label, and if in doubt, consult a trusted plant guide to identify the correct species.

Why are my Cat Palm Leaves Turning Yellow?

If the leaves of cat palms don’t get enough moisture, they might become yellow because cat palms do not tolerate drought and require wet soil at the root level.

In addition, water your cat palm only when the top layer of soil dries to keep the leaves from yellowing. Finally, you can prune yellow fronds off the plant.

Conclusion

The Cat Palm is a high-maintenance plant, but it will reward you with a taste of heaven if you put in the effort.

It tends to accumulate dust, so make a note of it on your cleaning to-do list. You may wipe clean the fronds with a moist towel.

It will also be important because NASA has designated it as a clean air plant.

Thus, this information implies that if you maintain Cat Palm clean, healthy, and happy, it will reciprocate by cleaning your home’s air for you!

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