The Kentia palm originated on Lord Howe Island (population: 382), a tiny piece of land off the east coast of Australia. The island gives the palm its botanical name, Howea forsteriana. It’s a slow grower that can take decades to reach its maximum height of 10 metres.
In the 1870s, the Kentia palm came to the UK. The Victorians loved an exotic status symbol and grew it as a houseplant. It coped bravely with the poor light and air in Victorian homes. Queen Victoria herself was a big fan, insisting palms were placed around her coffin when she died.
This is still an incredibly popular houseplant, but now we can give it a much better life. It has simple needs. It likes lots of bright light, but not harsh direct sun. Regular misting will keep its leaves fresh and green. It will also appreciate a feed with liquid fertiliser once per month in spring and summer. It’s a royal favourite. It deserves respect.
Did you know?
Kentia palms were used for decoration on The Titanic. In first class, naturally.