Kentia Palms -- Growing Howeia Species

Close-up of a Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana)
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The kentia palm (Howeia) is one of the world's most popular indoor palms. In fact, it's sometimes called the sentry palm, presumably because of the entry ways it guards. The kentia palm is perhaps not the most beautiful or graceful of all palm trees, but it has everything you could ask for in an indoor palm: it's shade tolerant, cold tolerant and doesn't grow too alarmingly large. Under the right conditions, a kentia palm will eventually grow into a magnificent specimen plant, up to 10 feet tall.

Growing Conditions

Light: Indirect sunlight. Do not expose to direct sun unless the plant is acclimated as a seedling to direct sun.
Water: Water weekly in summer, letting ​the soil dry between waterings. Do not allow to sit in water. Perfect drainage is essential.
Temperature: In the cold season, it can withstand 55ºF. Prefers warmer temperatures.
Soil: Fast-draining, well-aerated potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed weekly during the summer with liquid fertilizer or slow-release pellets. Palm fertilizer is preferable.


By seed. Kentia palms will rarely seed indoors, so propagation is better left to growers.


Repot only when the plant is completely root-bound, maybe every other or every third year. This will slow the growth rate and decrease the chance of the plant dying through shock. While repotting, go up one pot size and disturb roots as little as possible.

Grower's Tips

The kentia palm naturally grows with multiple stems topped with graceful, arching foliage.

There are two popular varieties: H. forsteriana and H. belmoreana. H. Belmoreana is shorter with erect leaflets. A good fertilizer is essential to prevent yellowing leaves, and dead fronds can be removed. Don't top-trim the palm or it will die. The tree will appreciate room as it grows to develop the full canopy—try to locate it someplace where people won't be tempted to pull on the foliage.

If possible, move the plant outside to a shady location for the summer months, increasing water and fertilizer.