Growing houseplants indoors is fun, healthy, and rewarding. You can grow many houseplants, and palms are one of the most popular. They add tropical greenery to your living room, family room, breakfast nook, or sunroom.
Parlor palms, Kentia, and Majesty Palms have the same feathery fronds on long stalks. Like the Ponytail Palm (not a palm at all) with its long hanging leaves, other palms have different kinds of foliage.
But palms all have one thing in common – they are native to tropical environments. Generally, palms are easy to grow if you pay attention to their care and watch for pests like spider mites.
Care Of Palms As Houseplants
You can grow many types of palms as houseplants.
Here are a few:
- Bamboo palms have bright green and bushy leaves and can grow up to 12’ feet. They like dry air and low light conditions.
- Date palms are also known as phoenix palms. They are sensitive to overwatering.
- Pygmy palms are a very popular palm to grow as a houseplant.
- The Chinese fan palm can grow up to 8’ feet tall with large fronds that look like folded paper fans.
- Parlor palms are favorite houseplants that like high humidity and low light.
When growing palms as houseplants, it’s important to know what kind of palm you have and its growth and environmental habits.
Some indoor palms like dry conditions, but others like humidity. Some prefer regular watering, while some are sensitive to too much water.
Palm trees are tropical plants and will not do well in cold conditions.
You need to know what soil your palms needs, how much water, what kind of light, and what environment, dry or humid.
You also need to pay attention to the state of palm fronds, leaves, and stems, looking out for brown or yellowing leaves and insects in foliage and soil.
What Are Spider Mites?
Spider mites are not actually spiders. Instead, they are tiny arachnids that are members of the Tetranychidae insect family and have about 1,200 species.
Spider mites are tiny insects that bite into plant leaves and stems to feed on the sap.
They reproduce quickly, forming whole colonies in weeks, laying eggs under silk webbing, and hatching thousands of baby spider mites on one leaf.
They are so small that they are difficult to detect on plants and leaves. However, if you do see a spider mite, you can be sure there are many more.
They measure just one-fiftieth of an inch, with four sets of legs and an oval body. They can be clear, brown, green, or reddish orange.
They’re commonly found on the undersides of leaves.
Spider mites are destructive insects that attack indoor plants in the thousands and can quickly get out of control if not noticed early.
When they find favorable conditions, they rapidly reproduce and damage or kill the plant they feed on.
Predatory mites, ladybugs, and tiny Stethorus beetles eat spider mites and are used in growing commercial environments for spider mite infestation control.
Signs Of Spider Mites
Spotting spider mites can be difficult since they are so tiny. But finding them early is important to save your plant because they reproduce rapidly and can quickly kill a plant.
You should regularly inspect your plants for pests like mealybugs, thrips, and growing problems.
Look at leaves and stems, especially the undersides. Sure signs of spider mites are tiny holes in leaves, discoloration of leaves, or speckle marks.
Also, the presence of fine webbing and tiny moving dots on white paper after tapping a leaf over it.
You may not see the insects at first, but you may notice that your palm leaves are not as green and healthy as usual.
Instead, leaves may appear tan or yellow or have white patches.
In addition, you may see tiny holes in the leaves. These are indications to look more closely for spider mites.
The spider mites have already done considerable damage if you have yellow or brown curled leaves.
This is because dry yellow leaves are dead, and brown curled leaves react to spider mite bites.
Treatments For Spider Mites On Palms
When you find spider mites on your palms, you must act as soon as possible to eliminate them and restore your plants’ health.
Hopefully, you’ll see spider mites when there are just a few before they multiply and infest your plant and get out of control.
Fortunately, effective treatments can relieve and save your plants from the damage caused by spider mites.
Spray With Soap And Water
You can kill spider mites by spraying your palm with a solution of regular dish soap and water.
Here’s what to do:
- Fill a spray bottle with water and add a tablespoon of dish soap; shake or swirl gently to mix thoroughly.
- Next, spray the plant wherever you see spider mites, webbing, or pinprick holes in the leaves. Make sure also to spray the undersides of the leaves too.
- If you can take the plant outside, after spraying it with soapy water, rinse it off by spraying it with a spray bottle of clear water or a hose.
Rub Leaves With Rubbing Alcohol And Water Solution
An alternative to spraying your infested plant with soapy water is rubbing the leaves with rubbing alcohol and water solution.
Do these steps:
- Add two or three ounces of rubbing alcohol to an eight-ounce glass of water and stir to mix
- Use a paper towel or cloth dipped in the mixture and wipe the leaves to remove dust and bugs.
- Rub the plant leaves and stems everywhere you see evidence of mites.
This kills mites and leaves a residue and odor that repels them.
Apply Horticultural Oil Or Insecticidal Soap
You may want to use horticultural oil like neem oil or insecticidal soap on more severe infestations. Follow the directions on the product for proper application.
You may have to apply your treatment more than once for all remedies. Be sure to observe your plant closely after application, especially if other plants are nearby.
Seeing spider mites on your palm plant or finding webbing or damage to leaves can be upsetting.
But you should take immediate action to avoid a severe infestation that may kill your plant and spread to other plants you have.
Of course, prevention is the best solution, but regular observation can spare you and your palm plants from spider mites.
You can also spray with an insecticide or chemical pesticides with spider mite infestations, but you risk harming beneficial insects along the way.
Introduce Natural Predators
Introducing natural predators like lacewings, ladybugs, and predatory mites will keep the mite population in check. They will consume hundreds of these houseplant pests per day.