The mountain palm, also known as Chamaedorea, is native to Mexico but is also very popular in Europe. She has an elegant appearance with her smooth trunk and feathery fronds. Since it is also easy to care for and has hardly any special requests, it is a widespread houseplant. Their popularity is certainly also due to the fact that palm trees usually do not thrive indoors; the mountain palm very well. Even hobby gardeners who have not been able to gain extensive experience can get along well with the Chamaedorea. However, patience is required, because the palm tree grows very slowly and usually only reaches its full size of 100 cm to 150 cm after years.
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Location light to sunny
The mountain palm prefers a bright location, but does not cope well with blazing sunlight. Therefore, a place at an east or west window is the best position. If a south-facing window is chosen as the location, it makes sense to provide sun protection during the midday hours in the form of a roller shutter, an awning or a curtain. The normal room temperature during the summer is completely sufficient for the palm tree. Of course, the mountain palm can also go outside during the warm season, e.g. B. on the balcony, terrace or garden. Since it begins a hibernation from October that lasts until February, it prefers a room temperature of around 15° Celsius during this period. It is therefore advisable house the plant in an unheated winter garden or in a bright basement room during the winter. It should not be too dark during this time, otherwise the shoots will wither and the leaves will fade.
Plants in suitable substrate
Conventional garden or potting soil is not suitable for a Chamaedorea. Rather, it prefers an air-permeable, slightly alkaline mixture of compost, leaf soil and some sand. If the mountain palm is a bit larger, adding loamy garden soil provides more stability. The planter should definitely have an outlet hole to prevent waterlogging and the roots from getting moldy. This outlet hole is covered with potsherds or small pebbles. If the pot is in a saucer, it is important to check this regularly to ensure that no irrigation water has accumulated here and remove it immediately if necessary.
The mountain palm is not only beautiful to look at, it is also extremely easy to care for and robust. If you heed the following care instructions, you can enjoy the Chamaedorea for many years:
- Rainwater and tap water are suitable as irrigation water;
- in summer the need for water is higher;
- spray with lime-free water on hot summer days;
- in summer put the root ball briefly in a bucket of water every 14 days;
- fertilize lightly every 2-4 weeks from March to August;
- half the dose of a normal liquid fertilizer is sufficient;
- water only moderately during hibernation;
- Gently wipe dust off the leaves;
- regularly check for pests;
- increase humidity by spraying water;
- Repotting is rarely necessary.
The mountain palm forms its first flowers at a young age, which appear cream-colored or yellow. Since she has to expend a lot of energy for this process, this is at the expense of growth. If you prioritize fast growth of the palm tree, simply snap off the blossoms or the entire flower panicle. If, on the other hand, the mountain palm is intended to produce fruit, the hobby gardener can provide support. Young palms are usually sold as tuff, which means that there are several plants in one pot. There is a high probability that there are both female and male plants among them. If you stroke the blossoms several times a day with a fine brush during flowering, you increase the chances that the mountain palm will set fruit.
Propagation by seeds possible
The purchased or harvested seeds are thoroughly cleaned with lukewarm water. After that, they are placed in water for a day so that they swell. A pest-free substrate such as coconut or mineral perlite, which is available cheaply in any hardware store, is suitable for sowing. Since the germination time can be a little longer, there is a risk that insects will lay their eggs here. You can prevent this by putting some substrate on a piece of kitchen foil, on top of which you place the seeds, which you then cover with substrate. Using another piece of cling film, form a small packet and write the planting date on it. Packed so securely, the seed packet is placed in a warm place that can also be dark.
It is important that the substrate is kept slightly moist and warm during the germination period. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using an appropriate pot for cultivating the seeds from the start. Ideally, this is covered with a translucent foil or a pane of glass. When the first small roots appear, it is time to plant the seedling in a suitable pot. The tip of the shoot must point upwards, even if the roots then align transversely. When choosing the plant pot, you should consider that palm roots grow more deep than wide. The ideal place for the plant pots is around 20° Celsius, not in direct sunlight and not subject to drastic temperature fluctuations. With a bit of luck, the first leaf will form after the first few days and weeks. Normally, the seedling has 2 to 3 leaves after the first year.
Experienced experts advise not to fertilize in the first few months. This encourages the roots to spread out in search of nutrients, resulting in a strong root system. After about half a year you can easily fertilize with conventional liquid fertilizer. At the same time, make sure that the substrate is permanently slightly moist. As this description shows, a lot of patience is required when propagating the mountain palm from seeds. It goes a little faster with the saplings that form at the foot of an existing mountain palm. These are separated and placed in potting soil. In this way, several months of cultivation are saved.
diseases and pests
The mountain palm is frugal in terms of care and robust. However, if it is kept too dry and the temperature falls below 10° Celsius, the leaves will first turn yellow and then brown from the tips. In this case it is necessary to water the Chamaedorea a little more and increase the humidity by spraying the fronds with room-warm, lime-free water.
Yellow fronds can also be an indication of a spider mite infestation. This can be recognized by the fine webs that form on the underside of the leaves. These pests are quite common on mountain palms. In this case, immediate action must be taken to prevent the plant from dying. Effective remedies are available in specialist shops. An effective method of fighting without chemicals is the use of predatory mites. These eat away at the spider mites, but leave the palm alone.
Light spots on the fronds indicate aphids. If this infestation is recognized in time, a vigorous showering of the fronds can eliminate the pests. A mixture of 30 ml of soft soap, 30 ml of spirit and 1 liter of water, with which the fronds are sprayed vigorously from above and below, is also helpful. Otherwise, a pesticide containing neem oil will help drive away the aphids. The aphids themselves do not endanger the palm tree so dramatically. However, they can cause soot as a result, the black coating of which causes the mountain palm to die off.
Another plague that can trouble mountain palms are scale insects. These are so tiny that they themselves are not recognizable, at most the 5 mm shield they build around themselves to protect themselves. These can be recognized on the trunk and branches because they form small brown bumps. Scale insects feed on the sap of the mountain palm, which does not initially harm them. However, if the population increases, the palm is threatened. Natural and biological means are then no longer of any help, because the shield reliably protects the pests. The use of systemic pesticides is then unavoidable, because these make the plant sap toxic for the aphids, causing them to die.
Anyone who assumes that snails only appear on plants in the open air is mistaken. No matter how carefully selected and mixed the substrate, it can contain snail egg deposits. The snails feel particularly comfortable in plant pots that receive plenty of water and are quite warm, as is the case with the mountain palm in summer. Because these little animals are nocturnal, they are not initially noticeable. Only when the eaten leaves are visible can their presence be detected and combated. Just a few grains of slug pelletsput an end to the heist and save the mountain palm from these ravenous troublemakers. Incidentally, snails with a shell are rarely dangerous for the mountain palm. Because they are easy to spot, it is easy to collect them and there is no need for any other means.
Repotting rarely required
Since the mountain palm grows very slowly, repotting is only necessary every few years. When the palm tree pot is completely rooted, it should be repotted into a slightly larger container. This should be significantly deeper than it is wide, because the roots of the mountain palm spread out in this way. There should be an outlet hole that is covered with a drainage piece of potsherds or gravel. A root ball that is as moist as possible can be lifted out of the previous planter more easily.
Once the Chamaedorea is potted, the hobby gardener takes the opportunity to examine the root ball closely. Healthy roots are slightly cream-colored, while diseased roots are dark in color and are cut off. Put some fresh substrate on top of the drainage of the new palm pot. Now the empty, previous pot is placed on top of it, so that a free edge of 2 cm to 3 cm is created, which is filled with fresh substrate. If the old pot is now pulled out, a free space is created that corresponds exactly to the size of the root ball. The mountain palm comes in here, the remaining soil is filled up all around and the plant already has a new home in which it will spend more years.
It spreads a tropical holiday feeling and is so easy to care for and robust. The mountain palm, also called Chamaedorea, is a grateful plant for all hobby gardeners who want to transform their home into a green oasis of well-being. If you follow a few care tips, you will be able to enjoy this elegant plant for many years. Planting, caring for and propagating do not require any botanical expertise, although the mountain palm generously forgives one or two small beginner mistakes. Its visual appearance, which increases impressively from year to year, can bring many praises to the owner. It is therefore not surprising that the mountain palm is still one of the most popular indoor plants.