Chamaedorea radicalis

neanthe bella palm, hardy parlour palm

Chamaedorea radicalis, commonly known as the neanthe bella palm, is a species of palm native to Mexico and Guatemala. It’s a popular ornamental plant, especially as an indoor palm, due to its small size, attractive appearance, and ease of care.

It has long, slender stems with dark green, feathery foliage that adds a tropical feel. It’s easy to care for and requires minimal watering, making it an ideal choice for busy households. It is also known to be a great air purifier, helping to remove toxins from the air.

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Origin: Mexico and Guatemala
Genus: Chamaedorea
Species / Cultivar: radicalis
Common Name: neanthe bella palm, hardy parlour palm
Synonym: C. pringlei

Plant Biography

Chamaedorea radicalis originates in the North Eastern parts of Mexico and Guatemala. It is one of the most cold tolerant of the Chamaedorea family, being able to survive temperatures as low as -7 degrees C, with minimal leaf damage.

The name of this plant comes from the Latin word “radicalis,” which means starting from the roots, in reference to the fact that the flowers stalks seem to shoot up from the base of the plant, near the roots.

The Chamaedorea palms played a significant role in Precolumbian and Maya cultures. They used the leaves to adorn caves that served as portals to the underworld and sites where rituals where performed.

Today, some species of Chamaedorea, called xate are an important crop in Central America, as their leaves are harvested in the wild and sold in the US for use in floral arrangements.

Chamaedorea radicalis
Light: Bright Indirect
This plant likes sun, but keep out of direct sunlight. Best placed in an area near a window.
Soil: Well drained
Soil that does not show much signs of moisture, either visibly or when handled.
Temperature: -7 - 25°C
Temperature range at which this plant is healthiest and grows best.
Growth Rate: Slow
This plant is particularly slow to grow, even during growing season.
Water Requirement: Medium
Once it is established, this plant is likely to only require watering during drier periods.
Humidity: High
Provide moist air via daily misting or trays of wet grit. Keep away from drafts and heaters.
Situation: Full Sun to Full Shade
Tolerates the complete range of light levels, a very accommodating plant!
Eventual Height: 2m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 1.5m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Hardy
Survives unprotected in an average winter. May need protection in extreme long frosts.
Habit: Evergreen
Always in leaf throughout the year. It won't lose all its leaves at any one time.
As a houseplant

As a houseplant

Chamaedorea radicalis is a slow-growing plant, which means it takes several years to reach its full height. Its slow growth rate contributes to its compact size, making it suitable for small spaces.

The neanthe bella palm prefers bright, indirect light but can tolerate lower light conditions. In an average UK home, where natural sunlight might be limited, it’s best to place the plant in a location where it can receive bright, filtered light. Avoid direct sunlight, especially during the afternoon, as it can scorch the leaves. Placing the plant near a north-facing window or a few feet away from an east- or west-facing window can provide the right amount of light. If you’re keeping the plant in a room with limited natural light, you might consider using artificial lights, such as fluorescent or LED grow lights, to supplement the light requirements.

Feed occasionally with a balanced fertiliser and repot when showing obvious signs of being pot bound. It’s important to keep an eye out for pests such as spider mites, which can infest indoor palms.

Expert Tip

Remember, it's better to underwater than overwater. Overwatering, especially in well-draining soil, can lead to root rot and other plant problems. Always tailor your watering schedule to the specific needs of your plant and the conditions in your home.
As a garden palm

As a garden palm

Chamaedorea radicalis, along with few other members of this genus (C.microspadix and C.seifrizii), is one of the hardiest subtropical palms. It can be planted outdoors in the garden in a sheltered area, ideally in part shaded spot, that mimics its natural environment where it grows in the understory of forests.

It grows well both in the ground and in pots. Feed in spring and summer with palm tree fertiliser to encourage lush, green foliage.

In winter it is recommended to protect the hardy parlour palm with a fleece to prevent frost from forming on its leaves. When in a pot, it can be brought indoors or kept in an unheated conservatory during the coldest period of the winter.

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