Despite it looking similar to a palm tree, the Cat Palm is most definitely a plant. With clusters of big, bold, green leaves, this plant can give any house a tropical ambiance. Be warned though, this plant requires a lot of love to grow and thrive.
More About the Cat Palm
Cat Palms are originally from Southeastern Mexico. It is also known as the Cascade or Cataract Palm. It can grow up to 6 feet high, even if it does take a while to get there.
An interesting aspect about the Cat Palm and palm plants, in general, is that in Victorian times palms were equated to social status. If you were rich and well-respected, you had palms throughout your house, especially in your windows so all could see them. It is mostly due to wealthy Victorians and their experimentations that we know how to take care of these plants.
This is a plant that can be a bit challenging due to needing a more tropical environment. But, if you know what you’re doing you should have great success.
10 Ways to Care for a Cat Palm
1. Give It the Right Amount of Light
This plant needs bright indirect light but not direct sun. That could cause the leaves to burn. This plant would be great in a sunroom or near a window like the Victorians.
2. How Much to Water This Plant
This plant likes to live in moist – but not overly soggy – soil at all times. This plant is not tolerable to dry soil. Be careful with the type of water you use, too much salt or too many chemicals will cause the plant’s leaf tips to become burnt. Also, never let this plant sit in water, it doesn’t like that.
3. Picking the Right Soil
You should get a soil that drains quickly. You can add peat moss to the soil to keep it light instead of heavy and clay like. Also, you can use a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom to help with the draining.
4. What to Feed This Plant and How Often
Less is more with this plant. You should feed this plant monthly in the spring and summer with basic houseplant food at half the recommended strength. It only needs to be fertilized one to two times during the fall and winter.
5. The Perfect Temperature
This plant like heat, but too much of a good thing can cause leaf damage. You should avoid putting this plant near areas that are in front of heat vents or near drafts. The ideal temperatures are 80 degrees during the day and no lower than 45 degrees at night.
6. How Much Humidity This Plant Needs
Humidity may be the most important thing to this plant. This is one of the main reasons why these plants do not do well indoors. Ideally, the room should have around 55 percent humidity, but since that is not always possible you have to get creative. You can use a humidifier or place this plant on a wet gravel tray. Make sure it sits on the gravel and not in the water. You can also try misting this plant with a spray bottle.
7. How Much Should You Prune This Plant
You should cut off any yellow or brown fronds quickly. Burned leaf tips can be trimmed, but they never look quite the same afterward.
8. Pests and How to Get Rid of Them
This plant can get infested with spider mites, scale, mealy bugs, and even ants. You should check all over the fronds, especially underneath because they like to hide there. You can try spraying your plant with an insecticide to get rid of these pests – but be cautious to use on that is safe around your other plants, your pets, and your children. You can also scrape off any scale with a child’s toothbrush.
9. Dealing with Diseases
This plant can suffer from Leaf Spot, which is a fungal disease that affects the leaves of this plant. They appear as small reddish-brown lesions.
10. How to Propagate This Plant
Propagation means to create more plants from the original one. This plant is propagated through seeds and can be difficult. The seeds are slow to germinate, and the seedlings are slow growing, meaning you have to wait years for them to grow into trees. You can’t propagate through division because the plant is too fragile.
Final Thoughts on the Cat Palm
The Cat Palm can be high maintenance, but if you want to put the work in, then it’ll give you a taste of paradise. It tends to collect dust, so you should be sure to add it to your cleaning list. You can just use a damp cloth and wipe down the fronds. It will also be useful because it’s been deemed a clean air plant by NASA. This means that if you keep it clean, healthy, and happy – it will return the favor by cleaning the air in your home for you!
Cat Palm Conclusion
If you want the tree look without the trunk and big roots, the Cat Palm tree is the plant for you. Its bushy foliage brings a tropical vibe to any room and will guarantee to brighten up your space.
However, these plants are only great if you have the time to care for them. This article has a step-by-step guide to caring for your Cat Palm so read that thoroughly for all the details.
Choosing a position for the Cat Palm is vital. The plant is quite fussy, needing light surroundings but not direct sun. If you’re noticing the leaf colour fade or bleach, your plant is getting too much sunlight.
A quickly draining soil is ideal for the Cat Palm, it likes to be well-watered but never sat in moisture. Make sure to use clean water, any added chemicals can be harmful and affect the condition of your plant.
When you notice the topsoil become dry, you can water again. Make sure the water is evenly distributed to get all the soil moist.
Even though Cat Palms can tolerate temperatures down to 25°F, it’s really important to try to imitate its Mexican origins and keep it relatively warm. The foliage will suffer in any temperature below 50°F. While some palms can live outside, Cat Palms will really struggle in colder weather.
Make sure you keep the surroundings of your Cat Palm humid! This plant will not survive in dry conditions, so your room should have around 55% humidity. If this isn’t possible naturally, humidifiers are a great alternative.
Cat Palm Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I save my Cat Palm?
First, make sure you’re not over or underwatering it. Secondly, make sure the air in the room isn’t too dry, these tropical plants love humid air, just like in their origin country, Mexico. If none of that works, try repotting it and make sure you follow all instructions on the correct water and soil to be using.
- Is the plant air-purifying?
Yes! One of the fab bonuses of this plant is that it will help to improve the quality of air in your house.
- What diseases should I be aware of?
Leaf Spot is the most common, so look out for red blotches. To prevent leaf spot, avoid getting leaves wet and increase the air circulation in the room.
- Is the Cat Palm pet safe?
Yes – although be careful not to confuse it with the very similar looking sago palm, which is toxic to pets.
- How do I control pests?
You may find that your palm has attracted mealy bugs, spider mites, scale or aphids. Simply wipe the leaves with rubbing alcohol to get rid of them.
- Should I use a fertilizer?
Slow-release fertilizers are best, especially those made for indoor palms, these can be found in garden centres or online. Try feeding once or twice during spring and summer for best results.
- How do I test how humid the surroundings are?
You can use a digital hygrometer, which can be found online.