Have a low light area in your home or office that needs some green? You say you want a low maintenance but graceful looking palm to show off? Well, it doesn't get any better than Chamaedorea seifrizii or The Bamboo Palm.
The Bamboo Palm or Reed Palm is a relatively small graceful palm that grows to about 7 feet. Usually plants sold in nurseries or seen in collections are clumping with about 20 or 30 individual plants. Each stem is long and slender with "nodes" very similar in appearance to Bamboo. Although plants are commercially clumped together to form shrub-like specimens, this palm naturally spreads by suckers or offshoots also similar to Bamboo. The stems are tall and have about 10-15 fronds each with about 12 dark green pinnate leaflets. As the old fronds die, these should be trimmed off and the leaf bases or sheath allowed to dry out. Later these should be removed as this promotes good plant hygiene and exposes the attractive light green "bamboo stem".
Although the Bamboo Palm is mostly used indoors as it prefers shade, it can withstand higher light and will produce flowers and fruit in these environments. The flowers arise from the leaf sheaths or covering and are dull yellow in color. The fruits are usually small pea-sized berries that are orange/red in color. Caution should be used with the fruit however as it is an irritant to humans!
The Bamboo palm, like most of the Chamaedorea palms, is native to Mexico and Central America where it thrives as an understory palm. Today this palm is grown in most nurseries and is very common in malls, offices, homes and courtyards.
Very easy to grow and maintain. As with most palms, the soil should be well drained. Applying household fertilizer in the summer months will keep these palms green and healthy. The main insect problem with this palm is Spider Mite, which usually occurs in very dry areas indoors mostly in the winter months. As the webs produced are virtually invisible until it has damaged the plant significantly, a light but thorough spray mixture of water, alcohol and Safer's Soap applied once a week should prevent this. Mealy Bug, Scale, Gliocladium blight and Phytopthora bud rot can also affect this palm but they far less commonly seen. Light: Thrives in low indoor light but can tolerate some sunlight if acclimated. Moisture: Keep evenly moist but not consistently wet. Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 12. Propagation: By seed which takes 6 months or more to germinate. Propagation by removing the suckers or offshoots from the parent plant is also common.
This graceful palm is mainly used as a specimen palm in offices, malls or homes. In warm climates (South Florida, Hawaii and California) it may be used in protected areas outside as a screen, hedge or accent to the landscape.
This palm is inexpensive and easy to find as it is routinely offered for sale by discount chains, grocery stores and almost always available from garden centers. It may be offered under several names including C. erumpens as well as C. seifirizii. C. microspadix (hardy bamboo palm) is very similar in look but has larger, papery-textured leaves and can be grown outdoors in frost-prone areas to USDA Zone 8.
The fruit of the Bamboo Palm is very toxic and should not be consumed!
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