Kentia Palm

Kentia Palm

Kentia Palm


Kentia Palm

You may already know the kentia palm. They are the best of all palms to grow as house plants because of their requirement for shade. They are popular because of their tropical look and sold all over the world.

There are 2 different kinds, both vulnerable in their native habitat on Lord Howe Island in Australia. Both are also referred to as kentia, sentry, or paradise palms.

The seeds are cultivated from the trees growing in the wild and are exported for landscapes and gardens.

Because the trees are threatened in nature, the industry is very tightly regulated to ensure the survival of these gorgeous specimens in nature.


The most popular of the kentia palms has long green feather leaf that has flatter presentation than its curly leaf cousin.

Its leaves get to be around 8-12 feet long with the feathery (leaflet) parts getting to be almost 4 feet long.

This gives an arching like appearance with the feathers hanging gracefully from the leaf stem.

This variety has a dark green to gray color trunk with its leaf rings a lighter color. The photo is the curly leaf variety.

Neither species has a crownshaft.

Both get flowers on numerous individual stems that hang down to as long as 6 feet. The yellowish flowers will turn to an orange/red color on the flatter leaf kentia, and to deep red/ brown color on the curly leaf variety.

The curly leaf kentia obviously has strongly arched leaves that curl a lot like the Christmas tree palm.

In the photo (above) the curly leaf is in the foreground, and the flat leaf version is in the background.

Their beautiful leaves will get anywhere from 6-10 ft long.

The trunk on this kind can have a swollen base, is green on the upper section turning a brownish gray in the lower sections.


It doesn’t matter which kentia palm you have their growing conditions are similar.

Neither can tolerate any frost more than an hour or two.

They require a well drained acidic to only slightly alkaline soil. Best to add some moisture holding organic type of material in with the soil.

They are great as house plants because of their lower lighting needs.

They prefer to have heavy to part shade. Both kinds prefer the arid cooler night temperatures of California.

The curly leaf kentia doesn’t so well in southern Florida.

The flat leaf can tolerate Florida’s climate as long as it shaded most of the day.

The kentia palm is hard to get the seed to germinate.

It can take up to two years in ideal conditions if at all.  

Now with that record you understand the need to protect the trees in the wild where the seeds are collected from.

Giving these guys a regular dose of a quality water soluble palm tree fertilizer along with regular watering will keep them healthy and happy.

If your tree is potted indoors then I would feed him every 8 weeks. For outdoors in soil, 3-4 times per year during the spring, summer and autumn months.

If you are in need of creating a "slice of paradise" indoors then either of these trees could be your answer.

Photo: Black Diamond images on flicker

Quick Info -Flat Leaf

Scientific name: Howea forsteriana

>50 plus ft tall, 20 ft wide if outdoors, single trunk

>Minimum temp 30 F,  zones 10-11   outdoors

>Slow grower, needs shade to part shade

>Any well drained soil, with some humus mixed in

Quick Info-- Curly Leaf

Scientific name: Howea beloreana

>20-30 ft tall, 10 ft wide if outdoors, single trunk

>Minimum temp 30 F   zones 10-11

>Very slow grower, full shade to part shade

>Well drained acidic to only slightly alkaline soil with lots of humus mixed in for moisture

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