thewisegardener.com "Palm of the Month"
Anyone who has been in an enclosed
"Mall" atrium, or a bank, has probably seen a Kentia Palm. It IS the
world's most popular indoor palm! Why? The Kentia Palm is quite capable of
retaining a GOOD to EXCELLENT appearance for long durations, "under
glass!" We see the Kentia in an environment where it CAN survive, but in the
out-of-doors, it looks quite different, and is a rather dramatic-looking feather-fronded
palm! This elegant palm hails from the Lord Howe Island, off the coast of New South
Wales, Australia. (A temperate-climate island, for sure!)
landscape environment, the Kentia is best reserved for "cooler"
subtropical environments, i.e. coastal California, as the species suffers with incessant
heat (like Florida or coastal Queensland!) and frequent "drying" winds.
Light frosts are tolerated but freezing temperatures probably will kill, or mortally
damage, the Kentia Palm. In the right cool, moist coastal climates, Howea
forsteriana will adapt to full sunlight conditions. The ideal temperature is between
15-25 degrees C. (about 68-79 degrees F.) Here they are likely to attain reasonably
tall stature about 16-20 metres (34 ft.) The Howea forsteriana will produce fertile
(M & F) fruit, red in colour after about 5 years out-of-doors, and the seed will
germinate in about 1-3 months! This is a collectors' palm, and your fertile seeds
will certainly be sought after by palm collectors, the world-over!
culture is attempted in warmer and/or drier areas, partial shade is strongly
recommended! The Kentia offers moderate salt tolerance, moderate drought tolerance,
it is adaptable to a wide variety of soil conditions and as mentioned before, can
"take" full sunlight ONLY where temperatures and moisture are
"moderate"! In Florida, for example, and ONLY Zone 10 at that, morning sun
only, is acceptable! It should not be grown north of West Palm Beach, Ft. Myers, or
west of US 27, on the East Coast of Florida, or East of US 41 of Florida's SW Coast!
In Queensland, it must not be tried west of the coast about 25 Kms.!
For the above reasons, we have designated the Howea
forsteriana our www.thewisegardener.com Palm of the Month for August, 2001!