How Much Light Do Parlor Palms Need? (Essential Tips)

In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about the best light conditions for Parlor palms (Chamaedorea elegans). These popular houseplants are quite tolerant of varying light conditions, but there are a few ideal considerations to follow to ensure your parlor palm thrives indoors.

How Much Light Do Parlor Palms Need? (Essential Tips)

How Much Light Do Parlor Palm Plants Need? – The Essentials

Parlor palms grow best in medium to bright indirect light but can tolerate low light conditions. Preferred locations include rooms with east or west-facing windows where the plant will benefit from either morning or afternoon sunlight. Parlor palms can also be successfully grown under artificial lighting

The Role of Light in Plant Health

The Role of Light in Plant Health

Plants are what we call autotrophs, meaning that they need to create food sources of their own to survive. All types of palm produce their food through photosynthesis, which is a process whereby plants absorb sunlight, water, and CO2 and convert it into oxygen and energy (a sugar called glucose). 

One of the critical ingredients for plants to photosynthesize is sunlight. Plants keep themselves alive by converting the sun’s light energy into a form that they can store (glucose). 

Therefore, for plants to survive, they need sunlight. A lack of sunlight will stunt a plant’s growth, eventually leading to the plant dying due to lack of food. Depending on the species will depend on how much sunlight they require for photosynthesis to occur.

Common Light Terminology

Every plant will require a varying amount and type of sunlight to truly thrive. The following is a brief explanation of some of these different degrees of sunlight exposure commonly referenced in houseplant care: 

  • Bright direct sunlight: direct sunlight refers to unfiltered sunlight, the best place in a house to get direct sunlight would be through a south-facing window
  • Partial direct sunlight: this is when an area receives direct sunlight for part or parts of the day, and the rest of the day it is in the shade; the best place to achieve this type of lighting would be near an east or west-facing window
  • Bright indirect sunlight: this is when light reflects off a surface or passes through a medium; the best place to get bright indirect sunlight is a few feet away from a south-facing window
  • Filtered sunlight: this is when sunlight travels through a medium such as shade cloth or lace, or sheer curtains
  • Low light sunlight: this is when a low level of sunlight is present; the best place to achieve this kind of sunlight is from a north-facing window

Typical Light Conditions Parlor Palm Plants Receive in Their Native Habitats

Typical Light Conditions Parlor Palm Plants Receive in Their Native Habitats

A parlor palm’s native habitat is on the forest floor of tropical forests in Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala. Here they receive dappled, shaded, and filtered sunlight. Thanks to the forest canopy, they aren’t accustomed to bright direct sunlight throughout the majority of the day.

Signs Your Parlor Palm Plant Is Receiving Too Much Light

You will know that your Parlor palm has received too much sunlight when you notice that the leaves are scorched or have turned an acid green or yellow color and started to die. 

Signs Your Parlor Palm Plant Isn’t Receiving Enough Light

Common signs your parlor palm isn’t receiving enough sunlight include yellowing leaves and slow or stunted growth (inappropriate parlor palm soil can also be a factor). You might also notice that the palm’s fronds stretch toward the nearest available light source.

The Best Light Exposure for Parlor Palm Plants Grown Indoors

The Best Light Exposure for Parlor Palm Plants Grown Indoors

Parlor palm plants do best in locations that receive bright, filtered sunlight throughout the majority of the day. They’ll also do just fine in rooms that receive morning or afternoon sunlight. 

These conditions can be found in several locations in the home, typically including those with south, west, and east-facing windows

Parlor palms can also tolerate low-lighting conditions (such as near a north-facing window). However, this is not an optimum situation for them, and you might notice that their growth is slower than it should be or that they are more susceptible to pests. 

If your Parlor palm seems to be suffering from insufficient sunlight in the winter, you can add an extra fluorescent or incandescent light to the room to help give your plant a little extra light boost. 

If you have a garden or patio in your home, you could opt to let your Parlor palm spend some time outdoors during the summer months, ensuring that you place them in an area where exposure to full direct sunlight will not occur.

For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position Parlor palms in the home for optimal care and Feng Shui benefits.

Parlor Palm Light Requirements FAQs:

Can Parlor Palm Plants Live in Low Light?

Parlor palms can tolerate low lighting conditions, though you experience a slower growing and slightly less perky parlor palm.

Can Parlor Palm Plants Take Full Sun?

Parlor palm plants do not like extended periods of bright, direct sunlight. This will typically scorch leaves, turning them either yellow or acid green and eventually resulting in the leaves falling off.

What Kind of Light Do Parlor Palm Plants Need?

The optimum lighting conditions for a Parlor palm plant are direct filtered sunlight. These lighting conditions best match the environment they would have grown in on the forest floor of tropical forests in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. They do not like it when there is not enough or too much light as both of these situations can harm them.

Will Parlor Palm Plants Live Happily Indoors?

Parlor palm plants are popular choices to grow indoors. Its natural habitat is on the forest floor, and it has adapted well to cramp conditions, indoor humidity, and overall indoor life. You’ll also want to repot your parlor palm every three years so once it has outgrown the current potting vessel.

How Do You Know if Your Parlor Palm Is Getting Enough Light?

The only way to know this is if your plant looks healthy and is not prone to pests. If you have pests on your plant, it is often an indication that your plant is unhappy somehow.

Another way that can indicate that your Parlor palm plant is getting enough sunlight is if it produces clusters of yellow flowers in springtime. Flowering does not happen very often as it takes the optimal conditions to promote flowering in a Parlor palm.

Wrapping Up

While parlor palms can tolerate varying light conditions when grown indoors at home, they’ll do best in bright, sunny rooms. An east, west, or south-facing window behind sheer blinds or lace curtains would be ideal. In suitable climates, these also make excellent potted palm trees for outdoor areas.

If you’re looking for your next parlor palm, see our guide to the best plant shops delivering parlor palms nationwide.

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