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 Growing a Palm Bonsai

 By Erik A. Olsen

Although there are many wonderful species of trees for growing bonsai, one that seems to attract the attention of many is the palm. In fact, the palm tree is one of the most popular but also the most expensive of all houseplants. The palm leaves have a lovely, tropical look, making this the perfect addition to any home. Growing a palm bonsai is not difficult although some people think it is. With so many different varieties, and a type of plant that handles controlled temperatures and limited light quite well, you could easily enjoy growing a palm bonsai for years.

When it comes to growing a palm bonsai, most species are easy to care for and have uniform growing requirements. Keep in mind that during the spring and summer months, you need to water your palm plant heavily. Additionally, the palm will need to be fertilized monthly for the healthiest growth. However, in the winter months, the amount of water and fertilizer will lessen. The key with growing a palm bonsai is to shield it from dry air, as well as direct sunlight. While you can place this type of plant outdoors in the summer, make sure it is placed in the shade only.

Another tip for growing a palm bonsai is that the best temperature during the day would be between 60 and 65 degrees and then between 50 and 55 degrees at night. If you plant to grow the Kentia or Parlor palm, then temperatures should never rise above 60. Again, when growing a palm bonsai, light is very important. Always chose moderate light over direct sunlight. Then when choosing Kentia and Parlor palms, only low light is tolerated.

When growing palm bonsai, water, soil, fertilizer, grooming, and repotting are also crucial factors of the process. First, you want to allow the palm to reach a point of almost being completely dry prior to water and then when you do water, make sure you water thoroughly. However, any excess drainage should be tossed out to avoid root rot. For soil, unlike other types of bonsai, the palm bonsai can be potted in regular houseplant soil but one that drains well. As far as fertilizer, you should do this lightly throughout the year and then in the summer months, offer a little more. Grooming would involve gently, picking off any yellowed leaves and using a damp cloth to wipe any dust off the leaves on occasion. Then for repotting, the palm bonsai prefers to be root bound so you do not have to repot as often as you would other types of bonsai.

When growing a palm bonsai, certain things will arise, most easy to resolve. For instance, any time the plant has poor drainage, is watered too often, or sits in standing water you risk root rot. If your plant becomes too dry, then you might develop a problem with spider mites or an occasional mealy bug. If you find that the tips of the leaves on your palm bonsai turn brown, then the plant does not have enough humidity although under watering, rough handling, or cold air could also be culprits. On the other hand, if the palm bonsai has yellow leaves, then you are watering the plant too much. Finally, any brown spots on the leaves could mean leaf spot disease, which occurs due to sudden chill or too much water.
 

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