Hardy bamboo palm is a clump forming bamboo-like palm that distinguishes itself by its cold hardiness. Gardeners in mild climates who get occasional frosts can use this plant to extend their palm repertoire. Hardy bamboo palm forms clumps of slender stems up to 8 ft (2.4 m) in height. Papery matte-finish leaves are arranged sparsely up and down the stems. These pinnate leaves are up to 2 ft (60 cm) in length and are composed of leaflets, each about 8 in (20 cm) long by 1 in (2.5 cm) wide, attached along the midrib.
A drooping inflorescence appears in summer. Hardy bamboo palm is dioecious - male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Female flowers are followed by the fruit which are bright orange berries about a quarter inch (6 mm) in diameter. These seem to light up the shade garden as they dangle in drooping clusters from the graceful stems.
Location Chamaedorea microspadix is native to the forests of eastern Mexico.
Hardy bamboo palm is not particular about soil. Light: This palm likes shady situations or filtered sunlight. Moisture: Provide adequate water. Hardy bamboo palm is moderately drought resistant. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. This palm is surprisingly cold resistant. I have specimens that have survived temperatures as low as 18° F (-8° C). Propagation: Plant fresh seed. It will germinate in 1 to 2 months - old seeds may take longer. Hardy bamboo palm also can be propagated by division of clumps.
Grow this understory palm beneath oaks trees, or use as a screen or backdrop for other plants in shady areas. Bamboo palm is great for entry ways and for patio planters and containers. This is a tough plant that, if cared for, will thrive in the urban landscape. The low light hardy bamboo palm makes a fine houseplant.
Tough and easy to grow indoors and out, this little palm is a winner with its graceful bamboo-like habit and its showy fruit. Cold hardiness is what sets this palm apart from the many other species of Chamaedorea. Hardy bamboo palm is becoming increasingly popular. The tropical bamboo palm (C. seifrizii) is very similar in appearance and is commonly used as a houseplant and in commercial "interiorscapes."
WARNING Avoid handling the seeds with bare hands; like the seeds of many palms, hardy bamboo palm seeds contain oxalic acid, which can be a skin irritant.