thewisegardener.com "Palm of the Month"
Howea forsteriana: KENTIA PALM
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!)
In the 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!
If 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!
Paul, "The Wise Gardener!"