Cat Palm (Cataractarum Palm or Chamaedorea cataractarum): Care and Growing Guide

The cat palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum)Indoor palms are a kind of palm that is simple to maintain. The houseplant has bushy characteristics due to its arching, palm leaves. Cat palms are the best indoor plant for adding greenery to almost any bright room in your home, growing up to 3 feet (0.9 meters) tall.

How to care for cat palms: Bright indirect light, well-draining soil, and above-average humidity are ideal conditions for the cataractarum palm. During the growing season, water cat palms by watering them when the soil is mostly dry and applying a diluted houseplant fertilizer monthly.

Cat palm thrives in a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F (21°C – 27°C). Cat palms are a type of tropical palm native to Central America and Mexico that belongs to the Chamaedorea genus. Cat palms grow in wet, humid woods and thrive outdoors in their native environment. Cascade (cat) palms reach a height of 6 feet (1.8 meters) in their natural environment. Indoors, though, these tropical palm trees don’t develop as tall.

Cat palms are not the same as trees. These palm trees aren’t trees because they don’t have a trunk. Clumps of leafy stems develop into cat palm trees on the ground. The glossy-green pinnate leaves of their long cascading fronds are striking. The growth of the cat palms becomes bushy as they grow, making them look more like an indoor palm tree.

Cat palms or other indoor palm species are an excellent option if you don’t have enough space in your home for an indoor tree. Cascade palms and cataract palms are two other common names for these plants. The parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) is another popular kind of houseplant palm in the same genus.

Cat palms (Ravenea rivularis) and areca palms (Dypsis lutescens) both have a similar appearance to that of majesty palms. The care of cat palms is covered in this article. There are a few important things to understand about growing cat palms indoors, despite the fact that the species Chamaedorea cataractarum is a low-maintenance, easy-care houseplant.

Cat Palm Care

Adequate light, good soil drainage, and effective watering techniques are the three critical aspects that must be present to develop cat palms indoors. You’ll get an indoor palm that seems bushy and healthy, as well as resistant to houseplant pests, if you choose the right care factors.

Cat Palm Light Requirements

Bright, indirect light is best for cat palms. Cat palms need more sunlight than other indoor houseplants. Cat palms prefer to grow indoors in a bright window that is sheltered from direct sunlight. Leaf burn may result from long periods of direct sunlight.

As long as they are properly established, cat palms can withstand full sun. However, if they spend too much time in the sun, they won’t make it. Since they don’t wilt in the heat of day, palms that are in full sun may need additional attention. When the palms need to be moved out of the sun, placing containers on a caddy allows you to do so.

Partial shade in a bright room is ideal for the best light conditions for a cascading cat palm. Leaf burn or wilting growth can be avoided by protecting cat palms from too much sunlight. If your plant’s leaves begin to change color, move it to a more shady spot.

Best Soil for Cat Palm

A light potting mix that drains quickly is required for cat palms or cataract palms. A combination of potting soil, peat moss, and perlite is the perfect type of soil for these easy-care cat palms. The growing medium does not get waterlogged or soggy, and this combination of ingredients retains some moisture. If the soil is too heavy or contains too much clay, you’ll have to change it.

Perlite, bark chips, small pebbles, and coarse horticultural sand are examples of soil amendments that aid in drainage. The appropriate soil consistency for cat palms is influenced by a number of factors. It’s important to be aware of the following since healthy indoor palms need the appropriate potting mix:

Rootbound plants—As the root system expands, cat palms outgrow their containers. Too much moisture retention in the soil can lead to root rot if rootbound plants drain slowly.

Drainage holes—Houseplants, including indoor palms and trees, need drainage holes in their pots. When their roots are always in soggy soil, most indoor plants don’t like being wet.

Watering techniques—Water should drain quickly from the soil because it is light and aerated enough. Before thoroughly hydrating the soil again, you should allow it to dry out.

How Often to Water a Cat Palm

Only the top 2 in (5 cm) of soil dries out on a cat palm. A cat palm may need watering every five to seven days in warm weather situations. The indoor palm should be watered less often during the winter, perhaps every other week. Don’t water your cat palm on a regular basis, even if you do so on a set schedule.

The frequency with which you need to water indoor palm trees is affected by a variety of factors. Check the moisture levels in the top layer of your cat palm’s soil to determine if it needs watering.

Pour enough water into the pot’s holes to thoroughly hydrate a cat palm before watering it. Before returning the palm to its bright, sunny location, wait until the water has finished draining. The following factors influence soil moisture levels:

Climate—In warm weather than in cold, the soil dries out faster. To prevent the soil from becoming arid, cat palms need frequent watering in the spring and summer.

Type of pot—More moisture stays in plastic and enamel pots than in unglazed terracotta ones. You’ll have to water your cat palm more frequently than you would a plastic container if it’s growing in an earthenware pot.

Type of soil—Potting soil may compact over time, causing drainage complications. It may be a indication that you need to modify the soil to increase drainage if water is collecting on the surface of the soil.

Best Indoor Temperature for Cat Palm Care

In typical household temperatures, grow cat palms (Cataractarum palm). During the day, cat palms prefer temperatures of 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C). At night, cat palms need a minimum temperature of 45°F (7°C). Cat palms should also be kept away from drafts and direct heat.

In USDA zones 10 and 11, cataract palms flourish best outside. If you can grow cat palms in a protected location in zone 9, they will thrive in your yard. Make sure that the cat palms get full sun and partial shade throughout the day by ensuring that the soil is well-draining.

You can grow cat palms in pots outside during the summer if you live in colder climates. Water your soil when it is somewhat dry in a bright area in your yard or patio. When the nighttime temperatures drop below 50°F (10°C), take the cat palms back inside.

Cat Palm Humidity Needs

To survive indoors, cat palms need a humidity level of at least 55%. Misting the cat palm leaves, placing the pot on a pebble and water tray, or using a humidifier are all ways to increase air moisture levels. Brown tips on cat palm leaves are caused by a lack of humidity. To ensure humidity levels are optimal, follow these cat plant care guidelines:

Misting—at room temperature, fill a spray bottle with filtered water. Spray the cat palm’s bushy foliage with a fine mist every other day.

Pebble tray—Place a decorative pebble layer in a shallow tray and increase humidity. Fill the tray with water until halfway up the pebbles. On the stones, not in the water, put the cat palm pot.

Grow with other plants—To increase indoor air humidity, place houseplants near your cat palm.

How to Fertilize a Cat Palm Houseplant

A diluted houseplant fertilizer is the finest fertilizer for cat palm plants. The feeding requirements of cat palms are modest. Reduce the recommended dosage of fertilizer to half. During the growing season, which runs from spring through late summer, apply the fertilizer every four to six weeks.

Take care not to over-fertilize a cascade palm that is growing indoors when you fertilize it. Over-fertilizing the plants may cause root burn and harm them. Moreover, the palm’s development may be harmed by a buildup of mineral salts over time. As a result, throughout the growing season, some cat owners only feed their cat palm once or twice.

Every three or four months, flush the soil to prevent mineral buildup. To eliminate excess minerals and salts, pour water for two or three minutes through the potting soil.

Trimming Cat Palm Leaves

Brown leaves are the most common reason for pruning cat palms. Browning of cat palm leaves may be caused by over-watering, sunburn, or fertilizer overdose. The plant’s aesthetics are enhanced by removing the dead leaves, which keep the foliage and leaves glossy and green.

Cut the cat palm frond at its base with sharp pruning shears. Trim the plant’s base or get rid of dead leaves to get rid of new growth (offsets) on the trim cat palm leaves. Make sure not to harm other stems on the plant while trimming the palm fronds. Pruning is seldom needed to encourage more growth in cat palms because they have a natural bushy growth.

How to Propagate Cat Palms

Suckers or offsets from the base of the plant are the best way to spread cat palms. Just remove the suckers from the main plant, and it’ll be done. Cat palm reproduction is simple since these offsets often have their own roots. How to grow a healthy cat palm tree:

  1. Identify the sucker with the most roots by removing the cat palm from the pot.
  2. Cut the offset from the main plant with a clean sharp knife.
  3. Put the new palm plant in the pot after half-filling a new pot with the appropriate cat palm soil.
  4. Fill the gap with potting soil and thoroughly water it before filling it with more.
  5. To maximize humidity, cover the growing cat palm with a plastic bag and place it in a bright, sunny area, but not in direct sunlight.
  6. Whenever the soil dries out, water it.
  7. Remove the plastic cover after a few weeks and treat the cat palm as you normally would.

Top cat palm care tip: When the cat palm’s development is robust, propagate it in the spring.

Repotting Cat Palms

Every three years or so, you may simply repot a cat palm or cascade palm. Because cat palms take so long to grow, they don’t need to be repotted very often. The cat palm should be moved to a pot one size larger than its current pot when repotting. Repotting a cat palm is easier than you think!

  1. Remove the cat palm from its former pot in a gentle manner.
  2. Inspect the roots for dead, brown, or mushy ones and trim them if necessary.
  3. Fill the palm plant with the appropriate potting soil and place it in a new, bigger container until it grows to the same height as before.
  4. Remove the repotted cat palm from its container and water it thoroughly.

Pests That Can Affect Cat Palm Growth

Spider mites, mealybugs, whitefly, and scale are all common problems for cat palms. Apply a neem oil solution or wipe the leaves with insecticidal soap on a regular basis to get rid of cat palm pests. It’s also important to maintain humidity levels to avoid certain pests. To avoid leaves turning yellow and eventual plant death, it is crucial to remove bugs from cat palms as soon as feasible. Pest infestations on cat palms may be seen in the following ways:

  • Spider mites—The first indication of a spider mite assault might be webbing under the arching palm fronds.
  • Mealybugs—The fuzzy white substance mealybugs leave on the palm’s foliage helps you identify them. Little white creatures may be seen scurrying on stems and beneath leaves.
  • Scale—Scale insects look like little brown bumps on the palm’s stalks, which is difficult to detect.
  • Whitefly—Whitefly or white aphids might be causing small white flies near your palms. To minimize the number of flies, use yellow sticky fly traps.

Diseases Affecting Cat Palm Growth

A frequent fungal disease that affects cat palms is leaf spot. The roots of most cat palm diseases are situated in wet soil, which is the most common cause. Your cat palm’s development is harmed by the constant dampness, which fosters fungal infections.

Cat palms may die from fungal root diseases. To avoid root rot, only water when the soil is partially dry. Avoid watering foliage. Repot the dying cat palm in fresh, sterile soil to help revive it if you notice spots on leaves or the stems are yellowing and seem weak.

Are Cat Palms Poisonous?

Cats, dogs, and other domestic animals are not poisoned by cat palms. Plants of the genus Chamaedorea are not poisonous, according to the ASCPA.

FAQs About Cat Palm Care

Is the cat palm easy to grow?

One of the most forgiving houseplants is the cat palm. Bright indirect light, typical indoor temperature, and a little extra moisture are all that is required to grow a cat palm. Water the low-maintenance houseplant when the soil is somewhat dry for optimum care.

Do Cat palms clean the air?

If you grow cat palms with other clean air plants, they may help clean the air in your home. A palm from the same cat palm genus, bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), was discovered by NASA to be helpful in removing airborne pollutants. Benzene and formaldehyde are two pollutants that these palms may help eliminate.

How do I make my cat palm bushy?

Your cat plant will naturally develop into a bushy plant with the right care. The fronds of this palm arch and cascade down the length of its stems, giving it a bushy or shrubby appearance. Water the plant sufficiently for healthy growth in bright or partial sunlight.

Why are my cat palm leaves turning yellow?

If cat palm leaves don’t get enough moisture, they might turn yellow. Drought intolerance is a trait of cat palms, and they need damp soil at the root level. Water your cat palm only when the top layer of soil is completely dry to avoid leaves from yellowing. Yellow fronds on the tree can be trimmed away.

Why are the tips of my cat palm leaves turning brown?

It’s typically a indication of too much fertilizer if the cat palm’s leaf tips are browning. For a few months, flush the earth to rid it of mineral deposits and don’t give the plant any nutrients. Over-watering the plant is most likely the cause of browning of all cat palm leaves. To prevent palm leaves from turning brown, cut off brown leaves and allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering.

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