Table palm, parlor palm or Neanthe bella palm are all common names for Chamaedorea elegans ‘Bella’, a small low-light interior palm and houseplant species. ‘Bella’ can adapt to just about any typical office or home interior.
This small or “miniature” palm has been in use for decades as a house plant and among plantscapers.
The indoor plant was first grown as one of the five & dime store plants, found its way into the terrarium craze and is now used in many dish gardens.
Our focus will be as a stand alone plant for interiors.
It’s commonly known in the trade as ‘Neanthe bella’ and is grown primarily for indoor use in 6″ inch – 14″ – inch containers, ranging in height from 18 inches to 3-4 feet.
Although I’ve seen plants of 6 to 8 feet in height, that’s uncommon. In a “growing” environment 4 feet is about the maximum.
You’ll find it used as a table top plant, grouped together in beds as under plantings, and as a low stand alone plant.
Neanthe Bella is originally from Guatemala and grown from seed. Each year or season, seed is harvested and shipped to the States where it is sprouted in flats or “cell packs”.
Sprouting can take 6-9 months from the time they are planted. Once the plants have reached the desired height, usually 10-30 seedlings are selected and planted into larger containers.
Some growers are beginning to look at the number of plants they use to plant with and are coming to the conclusion of – Less is More.
Once planted these plants will grow for another 6-12 months before they reach a salable 6-inch pot of 15-18 inches. Ten-inch pots may grow for 18 – 24 months to reach 24-36 inches in height.
Imagine that a plant you purchase even in a 6-inch pot can be already 18-24 months old and the 10-inch pot, 3 years old. That is the reason palms generally cost more.
Remember This on Buying Houseplants…
One good rule of thumb in purchasing plants – Most of the that plants do really well indoors are slow growers.
Don’t judge a plant based just upon price and height, slow growers usually cost more and may not be as tall but is better over the long haul.
In low light ‘elegans’ develops dark green leaves and can be maintained very well with lighting that you’ll find in most offices or homes.
Where ever you place a Neanthe ‘Bella’ make sure that you don’t place it in afternoon sun. Morning sun or bright filtered light is fine but the afternoon sun can bleach out the foliage.
Number # 1 Problem
The Number #1 problem in caring for the Neanthe ‘Bella’ palm is overwatering.
Plants that are sitting in saucers full of water or are plants overwatered and never allowing the soil to dry, lead to root rot.
Leaf tips and fronds turn yellow, leaves may drop, and new growth will come out pale yellow.
Underwatered plants will often have brown tips on leaves, new growth will be pale and older fronds may yellow.
When is the Time to Water?
Wait until the soil has dried down about half the soil depth. When you water, thoroughly water the soil evenly making sure the soil and roots have all had a good drink.
One reason I like subirrigation which waters from below!
DO NOT let the plant sit in water!!!
The Number #1 plant pests problem is small red plant mites. Look for clean plants to begin with.
Do not prune the ‘Bella’ palm Chamaedorea as you would other plants. It grows from a main stem, and the leaflets should be “tipped” or the leaf itself removed.
If you’re looking for indoor houseplants but particularly for a low light tabletop palm tree also used as an accent plant check out the Chamaedora elegans ‘Bella’ palm, just be careful not to over water and “patrol” for any pest.