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What is a Neanthe Bella Palm?

Angie Bates
Angie Bates

A neanthe bella palm is an easy-to-care-for miniature palm tree that is native to Guatemala and Mexico. This slow-growing plant is used as a decorative indoor accent for offices and homes and is often small enough to fit onto tabletops. The scientific name for the neanthe bella palm is Chamaedorea elegans.

Also called a parlor palm or a dwarf mountain palm, the neanthe bella palm is made up of many small, green fronds. These plants can be as short as 18 inches (45.7 cm), but can often be up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall. Rarely, they may grow as tall as 6–8 feet (1.8–2.4 m). They are generally about 36 inches (91.4 cm) wide. Bella palms may be kept alone or grown with other plants.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Neanthe bella palms need low, filtered light and moderate watering. These primarily indoor plants do best in a warm, consistent temperature. They should be watered when the top soil is dry to the touch, and any excess water that appears in the drip tray after watering should be removed. The frequency of watering depends on the amount of light the plants receives. The more light, the more water the plant uses, so the more frequently the palm will need to be watered.

Bella palms are propagated by seed, although propagating by division is possible. The resulting damage to the original plant, as well as its slow recovering rate, make propagation by division undesirable, however. Palms, grown from seeds, can be purchased in nurseries in a variety of size containers, usually ranging from 3–14 inches (7.6–35.5 cm).

Though the neanthe bella palm is relatively easy to care for, there are several concerns a potential owner needs to be aware of. Over-watering leads to root rot, but can be prevented by never allowing the plant to stay in standing water. Though browning tips are not often an issue for these palms, frequent under-watering will cause browning.

The most problematic issue with palms, and many other plants, are spider mites. Though spider mites are tiny and difficult to see, the infestation should be apparent by yellow mottling on the leaves or a dusty cobwebby look to the plant. If a plant is infested, it should be taken outside and sprayed gently with a hose to remove most of the mites, then dosed with miticide. This process should be repeated weekly until the mites are gone.

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