Houseplant Care Tips

Various Houseplant Care Tips Including Watering and Lighting Requirements.

Houseplant Care Tips

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Kentia Palm Care

Common Name: Kentia Palm, Sentry Palm, Thatch Leaf Palm
Scientific Name: Howeia Forsteriana
Lighting: Moderate
Watering: Moderate

The Kentia Palm is characterized by a series of arching feather-shaped fronds radiating from small trunks in a dark green color. Kentia Palms are slow growers so do not expect mass growth. On the other end, they are very durable house plants and therefore can be enjoyed for many years.

Kentia (Sentry, Thatch Leaf) Palms are not tolerable to severe dryness or continual over watering. They prefer to be moist much of the time, however do allow the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to dry before watering again. If frond tips are turning brown and the fronds are droopy, you are probably not watering the plant enough. On the opposite side, if the leaf tips are yellowing then becoming brown, chances are you are over watering the palm. The Kentia, like many palms, is extremely sensitive to chemicals in the water. Therefore be sure to use untreated water for this house plant and all your palms.

The Kentia palm prefers bright, indirect light but will also tolerate lower light levels. In lower light levels the plant's appearance will seem fine; however it just won't quite have the healthy look preferred. If you notice spotting on the upper fronds, the plant may be getting too much bright light, so try and move it to an area with a lower amount of direct sunlight.

Pests are usually not a problem with this house plant. Spider mites may appear. If so, try my home remedy that really hasn't failed me, of spraying the plant twice a day with a soapy dishwater mixture. If that does not work, go to your local gardening center and they can instruct you on which product to use.

Please share you tips on this common houseplant!!


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

we recently got a kentia palm and this post was quite helpful in taking care of the plant.

2:46 PM  
Blogger drayas said...

I'm glad you found the site helpful. I am trying to get more pictures for the website so its easier to identify what plant you need information on.


8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very Very Helpfull, Thanks For the Information

7:19 PM  
Blogger cynthia said...

I was told by a nursery farmer to add vinegar to soapy water when mixing a nonchemical spray for mites, white flys, etc. I add a couple of jiggers of apple vinegar to a standard spray bottle of semi-soapy water. I find that this mixture seems to work faster than the plain soapy water.

7:58 PM  
Blogger just_me said...

I just recently bought a Kentia palm but there are black spots/streaks all over the bases of the fronds and all along the stems. The black spots/streaks are also on the brown shell. Along with this the fronds are brown and dried at the tips and are drooping. I water it every 4-7 days depending on the top 2 inches of recommended dryness. Its close to the patio door with a good amount of indirect light. Is there anything i can do to help make it healthier??

5:43 PM  
Blogger drayas said...


Well there are a couple possibilities. I would use trial and error. Try changing one of the below things and see if improvement. If not, try the next.

1) Sometimes when the frond tips turn brown and the fronds are droopy, the plant may not be receiving enough water. These plants like a lot of water, so try providing one extra watering in your normal schedule. If within a week you don't see improvement try the next.

2) Spotting on the fronds can sometimes be caused by the palm getting too much bright light. Try moving it to an area with a lower amount of direct sunlight.

3) Lastly, the plant may be infested with some type of pest. Spray the plant twice a day with a soapy dishwater mixture. This will usually take care of the pests.

Please keep me informed and let me know if any of these ideas work.

Thank you,

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although all info on these plants labels them "easy" they are quite exacting in requirements. Seems they prefer the cool spectrum of temps. Also, do not expect them to thrive in a dark corner. In low light, they simply survive. They are sensitive to chemicals and like fresh air.

11:09 AM  
Blogger bitmedia said...

Hi, thank you for this page, it is very useful for understanding the plant. I have a different problem with my plant. I have two stems of Kentias in the same pot growing. One of them is very short and has 6 fronds/leaves and the other is very tall (with very skinny stem) and 7 fronds/leaves. Although they both seem to be doing fine, the tall one needs support to stand up right, otherwise it leans one way and it may some day break. My question is (I tried this in other types of plants and it worked), can I cut the tall one from its stem and replant it? If it's possible, do I put it in water first and wait for it to root before planting into soil? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks again for writing this blog!


11:45 AM  
Blogger drayas said...


I'm not sure if you can cut and simply re-root a Kentia palm. I've honestly never tried it and am having problems finding information.

Can any of my readers helps us out?

Otherwise can you stake the tall one up?


2:57 PM  
Blogger bitmedia said...

Thank you for your reply Drayas.
It's currently staked up. But the stem is way too thin, it just looks unhealthy to me. I am going to wait a little longer to see if any one else offers more knowledge on this subject and eventually will cut and try to re-root. I will post my findings =)
Thank you again for this website!!

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kentia can be grown from seeds only. Unlike other plants leaves are not a mean of propagation.

2:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there - I recently bought a Kentia palm which is very tall - about 7 ft. - should I repot it straight away? Do they need to have lots of room in the soil - am not very experienced with house plants. Thanks for the very useful information.

5:05 AM  
Blogger drayas said...


Unless your palm seems to be running out of room, I would wait to repot. Repotting usually puts the plant into a little shock. Let it get adjusted to its new home first.


11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My house became infested with gnats which we traced to a Kentia palm in our dining room. Any suggestions on how to rid the plant and house of gnats. The palm has been relegated to the shaded east facing porch but may be getting too much light.

7:32 PM  
Blogger drayas said...


Spray the plant with a soapy dishwater mixture twice a day. If the gnats are not lowering than go to a garden center and pick up a stronger insecticide.


9:32 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Hi we recently bought a Kentia Palm and were told to water it with just over 2 litres of water every 3 weeks. It has been about 2 weeks now since we watered for the first time, and the soil is still damp at the top.

However the middle and top level leaf tips are going brown and crispy. I am not sure what to do?
We bought it potted in soil with a built in self watering system which we are not using yet, the advice was to wait intil spring to use it.

Any ideas what to do regarding the leaves?

Great site btw.


5:20 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...


5:20 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Hello, I have a Kentia Palm which we purchased about two years ago. The plant is about 7 feet tall and has seven trunks (lacking a better word). Everything was fine with the plant for quite a while, aside from little browning (less than one inch long) on the tips of lower fronds. About two months ago, in September, the palm started to look sick, with lower fronds progressively browning from the tips and smaller frond drooping. In addition, there is some white spotting/streaking along the "veins" of some leaves. After two months, one trunk has only one frond left, which can't support its weight anymore. Top (largest) fronds on other trunks are fine. In general, the plant looks sick and lacks energy.
Its room has temperature around 60F (annual range 56F to 68F) and average humidity 85-90%. We live on Pacific coast in CA.
Since evaporation is slow in our climate, I'm trying to be very careful about over watering, allowing top 2 inches to dry completely (takes at least 2-3 weeks to achieve).
Is there anything I can do to save the plant? Any advise will be greatly appreciated.

8:37 PM  
Blogger samanthalee123 said...


I have a similar problem to Jamie but don't see the answer. Since purchasing my plant from a very reputable store, it's leaves have continued to get brown and crispy. The leaves start by looking a little "stressed", less supple to the touch, then they start to brown at the end, then the stalk gets yellow and the whole frond turns really brown and crispy. Originally I was watering every 7-10 days, located near a floor to ceiling window that gets minimum sun through a sheer curtain. I called the store and after troubleshooting they decided I was underwatering. I've been watering more and moving it in front of the window and pulling back the curtain for more sun - nothing seems to work. It's getting worse. I do live in Chicago so there is a tiny bit of cold air near this window.
What should I do?

6:50 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Hi Sam,
This problem hasn't resolved for me but we called the company back and they told me to water at least 2 litres every 3-4 days, which has helped the rest of the plan but the bottom stalks have continuted to go brown and crispy, but the rest of the plant looks great.

Hoping this is just an issue you get with most plants where some stalks may die anyway,.

10:32 AM  
Blogger David said...

My Kentia has been growing well in my house the past few years. About a month or two ago I noticed one of the stalks growing was very bumpy. After a week or so, the stalk opened up and all the little stalks off of it had what looked like seeds covering them. Should I cut this stalk off or leave it? Are these seeds? If not, what are these?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Sophie said...

help please. I used to have this beautiful Kendia Palm, about 5 ft fronds and then I got kittens. Now the fronds are dying and the plant looks so sad. I wondered if I was underwatering so paid attention to that.

I recently discovered my new cats are using it as a litter tray (poor poor plant) and I have discouraged this by putting stones over the top of the soil, which works mostly.

It still looks sad and I'm sure the ammonia from the cats wee is not good for it. What can I do , should I change the soil in the pot or will this send my lovely plant even further into shock.


3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi my kentia palms leafs tips are turing brown and dry, i can see they are dying, i bought it 4 weeks ago, i am watering it twice a week only half liter water. this is my first indoor plant which i have kept in my dinning room with good amount of bright light. Pls advice me how to save it.


6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When do I need to repot?
Do they like to have their roots confined?

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This palm, as all palms, are susceptible to spider mites. My experience with the kentia ia as follows: Grow indoors in extreme cold outdoor weather AWAY from any heat sources, grow outdoors in summer in a deep shade (East or North side). Water more in summer than winter. Always give as much fresh air as possible. They do like rain showers in summer. Go organic with any fertilizer (fish emulsion) or insect control. They do not like chemicals. Perfect indoor light would be unobstructed north. An exacting palm but worth every effort.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have had this Kentia for about 5 months it has started to have what appears to be 5 fingered growth on some of the stems. Not sure what these are, should they be removed?

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Desere said...

we have what we think is a kentia plant. we recently noticed it is quite sticky, to the point that it is dripping and making the floor around it sticky. today we noticed little brown dirty spots on some leaves and stems. what could it be? and if we have to spray it with the soapy water how much soap would you recommend to put into the bottle? also we have been struggling with the leaves turning brown on the tips so we have been watering it more, not sure if it has helped it much yet. could that have something to do with the stickiness?

5:12 PM  
Blogger Col said...

We have recently purchased two palms and they seem to like where they are situated. One in a low light area corridor and the other in the living room which is a bit brighter. They both started to droop as i think we were not watering them enough and sure enough with a bit more water they have perked up again. Although now the one in the living room has two stems that are very yellow. On one stem this yellowing is spreading to the leaves. Wondered if you can advise me on how to stop this happening? Should i be feeding them at this time of year? I am using normal tap water for them, is this ok? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Col

2:55 PM  
Blogger rowdy said...

I liked your blog about Kentia Palms.
I have been involved in the Kentia Palm industry for almost 30 years and lived on a beautiful island in the South Pacific called Norfolk Island.
I wrote a book about the history of the Kentia called "Seed to Elegance", and also have a blog about Kentias
I would like to let Kentia owners know about my book and was wondering if I could post a comment on your blog. Would you be kind enough to let me know your answer. Thanks, Kevin Williams,

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi i need help for my kentia palm as its height is not increasing its only 2ft since when i have brought it . it has been 1 yr

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Kentia palm is dying, four out of 6 branches has dried out already and I can't do anything for it. I just noticed that a little bit of a root is out of one of the holes on the bottom and I'm gonna change the pot pretty soon. any advice could help me please.

2:02 AM  
Blogger Corinne Louise said...

I have a lovely split leaf philo and it just broke off ...shall I try to root the part that broke? by making it a cutting? this seems like my only option or do you have a wonderful solution I do not know of now? Thank you!

9:49 PM  
Blogger Steven Johnson said...

Our Kentia is a triple and is outside in Vista California. I have heard that you should leave the dead brown almost dead frawns on the tree and they will fall off by themselves. Is this right ?? I'd rather trim them off when they are mostly brown. Also the triple is in full sun and seems to grow really slowly. It's moist to wet as it has red cinder around it with weed cloth below that. Maybe too wet ? It is green with new leaves but they droop so much. Is all this normal? the slow growth. Its been in the ground for about a year. it's only grown about 6 inches. ?? and it has a few droopy brown leaves

1:19 PM  
Blogger Mister Go said...

Hey, I hope someone here may be able to help me out. Ive searched all over forums for an answer but no luck yet. I have a kentia that although has grown continuously and trouble free for over two years, it has progressively gotten shorter. Now it's around 4ft, down from 6. The fronds now have around 20 thin fingers on each palm but when it was bought the palms were thicker fingered and less of them. I assumed I was under feeding it but no change in the last 3-4 months. Anyone know why it may be getting so short? And if so, how can I get it back up to the 6ft beauty it once was ?

9:41 AM  

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