Palm trees are underrated. They’re readily available at stores like IKEA and Lowes, safe and non toxic to cats, dogs, and birds, grow quickly, and are easy to take care of. While Instagram is flooded with Monsteras and Fiddle Leaf Figs, I, for one, would love to see some #palmlove.
Harold (above) is my first palm, and one of my first indoor plants. He’s been through a mealybug infestation, scorching summer heat and a careless mom moment when I left him outside in freezing temperature. Somehow he’s bounced back. Palms are pretty hardy and as long as you listen and love them, they’ll be your favorite pet-safe large plant. Plus, they are one of the top air purifying plants for your home.
Which Palm to Pick?
There are many types of palms and to be honestly they all look pretty similar. Typically big stores like Amazon and IKEA sell the Majesty Palm, which is the most common. The latin name on the tag should read “ravenea rivilaris.” The Majesty Palm is completely pet safe, acclimates to both hot and lower temperatures, and is happy in medium to high light. Harold’s a Majesty Palm and has been trucking along for 4+ years, despite my poor parenting.
Areca Palms and Parlor Palms look similar to Majestys but are a bit more elegant. Their fronds are thinner and lighter, but they still grow tall and are non toxic to cats and dogs.
Ponytail Palms (below) are more petite palms, although they can grow to be huge, and are also pretty common in stores. Unlike the three listed above, Ponytail palms aren’t in the palm family, but they do look like one, and are safe for pets.
RIP ponytail Palm, I loved you. But so did my kitties 🙈😭 Heres my list of plants that most resemble a cat toy: spider plant, air plant and yes…ponytail palms. What else am I missing? DISCLAIMER: if your furry friends are nibbling on plants like these two in the pic, please be sure to check ASPCA plant toxicity list to make sure none are deadly for our furry friends!! 📷: @jgooly . . . . . . #plantladyisthenewcatlady #catsandplants #plantsandcats #plants #plantsofinstagram #indoorgardening #houseplants #urbangardening #garden #cats #catstagram #catsofinstagram #urbanjungleblogger #houseplantclub #thehappygardeninglife #house_plant_community #crazyplantlady #crazycatlady #myplantaesthetic #plantgang #peoplewithplants #therealhouseplantsofinstagram #plantsmakepeoplehappy
Fishtail palms, Fan palms (below) and Sentry Palms are gorgeous. I always see them in fancy greenhouses in mansions and botanical gardens, but never find them available. Like other palms, their nontoxic, air purifying, and humidity lovers. Side note: If you ever do find these available to purchase, please buy one and send me a clipping. Please.
Palms and Cats
I need to stop right here. Sure, you can fill your home with gorgeous palms that are completely non toxic to your cat, but I have some news, they will obliterate it. Your innocent cat may will eat you palm to shreds, until you find regurgitated sticky leaves all over your house and in the litter box. Palms are cat magnets. Why? Well, look at them. They’re stringy, taste like grass, and something you love. Unless you have angel cat sent from the heavens, you need to take proper caution bringing a palm into your home. Yes it’s fine if your cat munches, but they won’t stop munching it until it’s gone (see leaves below). I recommend putting palms on plant stands, small tables and pedestals, just high enough out of reach. Yes, I treat my cats like a grabby toddler.
This is an important little blurb because many tall stringy plants look like palms but aren’t. This is actually why I included the latin names above, but that will be your only identification. Many Dracaenas can be labeled a palm but aren’t, and these are toxic to pets. Take the extra second and read the label and if that’s not clear, ask an expert. Never buy a pant that you can’t identify. The Sago Palm is a actual palm. It’s considered one of the most toxic plants to cats and dogs, resulting in death if ingested, and must be avoided a all costs.
Read your Palm
Sure, you can grab your tarot cards, why not. But that (probably) won’t help you become BFFs with your palm. They can be tricky to care for, but so is any new plant that needs to adapt to your home conditions, which are usually inferior to the green house they grew up in. All palms seem to like medium to bright light, mine are in an east window behind a sheer curtain. They do tolerate indirect light, but you need to be extra careful with watering.
This brings me to my next point: watering. Overwatering is the umber one killer of palms. I have seen them fall victim to soggy and moldy soil over and over again.
Palms prefer to be underwatered if anything, but obviously grow when watered consistently. Keep their soil moist throughout, the top layer should be slightly dry to the touch. During the summer, they grow rapidly, so attention to watering is imperative.
If watering is your number one challenge (don’t worry, its mine too), invest in a Moisture Meter. They’re inexpensive plus it’s nice to have something just tell you “it’s time to water this plant or it will die.”
Palms have a hard time staying upright, so you may need to stake it, as seen above. As far as planters go, Palms like drainage. Either a Terra Cotta or plastic planter will work, just be sure it’s study with drainage holes. The goal is to have any excess water run off then be discarded. Palms hate soggy soil diapers.
There are more palms that are rare and hard to find that I haven’t talked about here, but I live in the US and our exotic plants only get so exotic. Share your palms on Instagram and tag @leaf.and.paw with #palmlove. I’m really trying to make it a thing.