Common name: Kentia Palm
It is hard not to have a palm or two in a tropical, subtropical or warm temperate garden. They epitomise the essence of the tropics and holiday destinations.
Most palms are sought after and recognisable for one reason or another, but few are desirable for both indoor decoration and outdoor landscaping.
Howea is a genus of only two species, one being the Kentia palm – the world’s most popular indoor palm.
Both species come from Lord Howe Island and prefer mild coastal districts of warm temperate to subtropical climates. They both have a low drought tolerance and need protection from dry winds.
They are solitary palms with a single trunk but do not form a crownshaft as is typical in many other palms. Howea only grows to about 5m tall in urban gardens, but they are known to reach over 10 m in their natural habitat.
Species worth considering for the garden:-
Howea belmoreana (Curly palm) – fronds are up to 3-5m long and arch significantly giving the palm its common name. Leaflets are held upwards in a V shape from the central rachis (leaflet stalk).
Howea forsteriana (Kentia palm) – highly decorative palm with graceful arching fronds up to 3-5m long. Leaflets droop downwards from the central rachis. This is the best palm for indoor use and cool shady spots in the garden.
Written by Paul Plant, Editor of subTropical Gardening magazine - www.stgmagazine.com.au