NZ Palms, Cycads and Subtropical Plants

Indoor Palms for New Zealand

Plenty of palm trees grow well in both light and dark indoor locations. Here are a few you might like to consider as indoor plants.

Happiest in a dark location the Metallic Palm (Chamaedorea metallica) is well suited to indoor cultivation
Tolerant of low light and indoor conditions the Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea microspadix) is an excellent indoor palm
One of the best selling indoor palms around the world the Golden Cane Palm (Dypsis lutescens) needs a bright location inside
The quintessential indoor palm the Kentia (Howea forsteriana) has been used as a pot plant since Victorian times
Indoor palm trees in a magnificent setting. Atocha Train Station, Madrid

Chamaedorea metallica

You’re doubtless familiar with the Parlour Palm, Chamaedorea elegans. It’s probably the world’s most popular indoor palm grown in the millions and present in just about every home and office in the country. Much less common is the Metallic Palm, Chamaedorea metallica. This is a stunning little palm which grows (eventually – it’s very slow) to around two metres. As the name suggests the leaves are metallic in colour (almost sliver-black) and quite different from any other palm. It also detests bright sunlight so keep it in a shaded corner.

Howea forsteriana

Kentia palms have been used indoors since Victorian times and deservedly so too. As you’re no doubt aware this is a tough yet highly attractive palm capable of tolerating neglect. It’s used throughout the world as a house and office palm for this very reason. We believe that this is a palm that’s sold too early by most growers as it doesn’t really look beautiful until the larger semi-mature fronds begin to appear.

If you’ve the space then the Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis) would make a stunning addition to a large room or atrium
Graceful and elegant the Wedding Palm (Lytocaryum weddellianum) would look magnificent in any home
For both grace and resilience the Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) is perfect for indoors
Slow growing and something of a novelty the Cardboard ‘Fern’ (Zamia furfuracea) is a lovely little indoor plant

© NZ Palms, Cycads and Subtropical Plants 2019

Chamaedorea microspadix

This is another palm that keeps making it back into the lists on account of its many virtues. We genuinely believe that the Bamboo Palm is perhaps the best available indoor palm. It’s just the right height, quick growing, clustering (so you’re not left with a skinny trunk and leaves around the ceiling) and tolerant of indoor conditions. Perhaps the only competitor for ‘best indoor palm’ is the Lady Palm, Rhapis excelsa.


Dypsis lutescens

The Golden Cane Palm is one of the most widely grown palms in the world and is popular throughout the tropics as a garden plant. With the exception of a few microclimates it’s less well suited to New Zealand but makes a stunning indoor palm if you’ve the space and sufficient light. You’ll need a high ceiling and a bright room but there is probably nothing more stylish than a mature (not a small pot full of stretched seedlings but a genuine, solid plant) Golden Cane Palm as an indoor plant. And if your office has a large atrium this is the palm to have!

Rhapis excelsa

We’ve extolled to virtues of the Lady Palm elsewhere on this site but it deserves special mention as the supreme indoor palm. Capable of withstanding extremes of neglect the Lady Palm will grow slowly but surely each year always looking good and exuding a touch of the Orient to your room. Perfect for dark rooms this palm seems to survive on practically no light at all.


Zamia furfuracea

This is a somewhat odd inclusion in the category of indoor palms but the Cardboard ‘Fern’ (which is actually a cycad) is well suited to being grown indoors in a well-lit location. It’s also the perfect place to show off its unusual leaves which really do feel like cardboard. Great as a novelty plant but, as a larger mature specimen, it’s a fantastic indoor plant in its own right.

Livistona chinensis

Whilst the Chinese Fan Palm makes a cracking outdoor palm for sun or shade it’s also a great indoor palm for a large house. You’ll need to give it some room – at least 2m x 2m – but it’ll reward you with huge, practically undivided leaves and a trunk that’ll take forever to get too big!


Lytocaryum weddellianum

The Wedding Palm is probably the most graceful of all palms. With its thin trunk and elegant head of miniature feather-like fronds this is a truly gorgeous palm. It’s difficult to obtain and usually quite pricy but if you want something that’s going to impress every visitor buy a decent sized (something at least a metre tall) Wedding Palm. As a point of interest you’ll be amazed to know that the tiny wedding palm is actually a cousin of the massive Jelly Palm, Butia capitata.