Fishtail Palm, Rhapis Palm and Kentia Palm

4 Perfect Palms For Growing In Containers

Want to bring the sunny, carefree vibes of the coastal beaches to your home with some breezy palm trees, but don’t want to go all out with a full-sized tree? These mini palms are nice and compact, so they make great accent plants for the home or yard when you grow them in containers. Plus, if you’re the indecisive type who can’t quite settle on one permanent spot for your new tree, the beauty of a container palm is that you can move it around wherever you like, provided it gets the right amount of sunshine.

Check out these four fabulous palm varieties that can be easily grown in containers here in California. Place them on the patio, flank the sides of your front steps with a matching set, pop them in the corner of your yard, or grow them indoors by a sunny window for some fresh and fuss-free tropical greenery.

Kentia Palm summerwinds california

Kentia Palm

Kentias are a surprisingly hardy variety of tropical palm, and they can withstand much cooler conditions than many of their counterparts, so they make a fantastic indoor plant. They’re quite slow growers, so their size won’t get too hard to manage. At most, they can reach up to 12 feet high when grown in a container, but that will take several years. They also are known to sprout some pretty white flowers and red berries, but not until about year 15, so if you’re very patient, you may get to witness their lovely inflorescence!

Kentia palms actually prefer partial to full shade over direct sun, so if you’re growing it inside, find a spot with some gentle, indirect sunlight. If you’re growing them outdoors, find a shaded place by a tree canopy or an awning. They’re highly tolerant to a range of soils but do best in well-draining, sandy soils. Water your kentia palm whenever the top two inches of the soil starts to get dry.

Areca Palm summerwinds california

Areca Palm

This variety has lush, feathery fronds that add tons of color and texture to the surrounding scenery. Intense, direct sunlight will cause its leaves to turn brown, so similarly to the kentia palm, you’ll want to find that sweet spot on your property that provides just enough light. Luckily, with a container plant, you can move it around for some trial-and-error test runs, monitoring its growth and moving it at the first signs of distress.

In spring and summer, you’ll want to water your areca palm regularly to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. In fall and winter, you’ll want to scale back a bit and allow the first inch or two of soil to dry out between watering. We recommend using a slow-release granular fertilizer once every spring, and a micronutrient sprays for the fronds every summer. Repot your palm every 2–3 years, so you can replace the potting soil with a fresh batch, and clean out any salt or residue left behind from the fertilizer.

Rhapis Palm summerwinds california

Rhapis Palm

Also known as the Lady Palm, this fancy gal has upright stems and fan-shaped leaves that don’t get too large or unruly, so they’re easy to grow indoors. They can also tolerate outdoors if the temperature is on the milder side—generally, they do best in 70°F during the active growing season and need to be above 55°F over the winter. You’ll definitely want to make sure your container has drainage holes, because they love lots of water in the summer, but don’t do well when stagnant water pools at the bottom of the pot.

There are two types of rhapis palm that you can grow in containers: rhapis humilis, which reaches up to 3 feet tall at maturity, and rhapis excelsa, which grows to 6 feet tall. One application of slow-release fertilizer in spring, or some water-soluble fertilizer applied every two weeks during the active growing season should help it to grow steadily. If you notice the tips of the leaves are getting a little brown, don’t fret! That’s totally normal, and you can just trim them off with clean gardening shears.

Fishtail Palm summerwinds california

Fishtail Palm

This distinctive variety has textured, swishy leaves that look positively mermaidian! It’s a bit more tolerant of hotter temperatures, so it’s quite comfortable in 80°F weather from spring until autumn. It prefers bright indirect light and does best when planted in a loose, soil-free medium in a container 2 inches bigger than the one it came in.

Humidity is key to keeping your fishtail palm happy, so if conditions are a little dry, we recommend misting your palm regularly. Try to avoid having big water droplets collect on the leaves because this can attract pests or create ideal conditions for fungal growth. Wiping off excess moisture with a clean cloth will prevent this, while also helping to remove dust from the leaves.

Want some indoor palms of your own to give your place a breezy, beachy makeover? Stop by any of our 3 locations to see all of our latest varieties for California homes!

About SummerWinds Nursery: SummerWinds Garden Centers is a leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the west. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff.