When and How to Water Kentia Palms

Your indoor jungle will never be complete without the tropical indoor tree – the Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana). These robust palms look fantastic in any space and enjoy neglect better than most indoor plants, making them great starter plants for new plant parents. But, if you want to keep your Kentia Palm thriving, you’ll need to know when and how to water it. Believe it or not, several factors come into play when watering your Kentia Palms. In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything I do to keep my Kentia palm happy and hydrated throughout the year.  

When and How to Water Kentia Palms

My Essential Kentia Palms Watering Tips:

  • The Soil – like most houseplants, Kentia Palms enjoy mostly moist soil. Many plant parents suggest watering your Kentia Palm at least once a week. In my experience, though, the finger test is your best bet. Before watering, check if the top 1-2 inches are dry by sticking your finger into the pot. I checked with the plant delivery experts at Leon and George, who recommend this exact same process. If it’s dry, it’s time to water your palm. If not, give it a few days before testing the soil again. 
  • Consider Drainage – While Kentia Palms enjoy moist soil, avoid overwatering. Your chosen pot needs to have several drainage holes to prevent the root ball from drowning in too much water. I’ve had this before, which leads to droopy palms and yellowing leaves. 
  • Water Correctly – Watering slowly and thoroughly allows the water to fully saturate the soil. This allows the roots to get as much water as they need. I stop watering once excess water begins draining out the holes. 
  • Seasonal Watering is Key – Your Kentia Palm’s water needs will change depending on the season. It requires more water in summer than in winter, so I’m always mindful of changing up the watering routine to avoid underwatering or overwatering. 

The Key Considerations of Watering Kentia Palms 

The Best Soil Mix for Kentia Palms

Caring for your Kentia Palm is never an exact science, especially when it comes to watering the plant correctly. You must consider a multitude of things when watering your Kentia Plant.

I find that the following key factors affect how and when you water your Kentia Palm the most. 

Temperature and Humidity Levels

As tropical plants, Kentia Palms thrive in warm, humid conditions. But, depending on the weather, these conditions will fluctuate. Your plant will lose a lot more water during high heat and low humid conditions, meaning you’ll need to water it far more frequently. 

Of course, during cooler stretches, you’ll find that limited evaporation occurs, so you’ll need to water your plant less. 

Light Conditions 

Kentia Palms thrive best in bright spots that get plenty of indirect sunlight.  That being said, the more sunlight your Palm gets, the more you’ll need to water it – especially during summer. If, however, your Kentia Palm lives happily in a less sunny spot in your house, you won’t need to water it often. 

My Kentia Palm grows best in a spot that experiences bright, indirect light most of the day.  

Soil Mix

Kentia Palms enjoy a well-draining sandy potting mix. However, they can thrive in loamy and clay soils if they don’t retain excess water. When and how you water your Kentia Palms can significantly hinge on the soil you use.  

As clay soil tends to retain water better than sandy or loamy soil, you won’t need to water your Kentia Plant as frequently. But you should always ensure that the soil eventually dries out, or else you could face root rot

The Container

The type and size of your container can also impact your Kentia Palm’s watering needs. 

While plants in large pots require more water, they retain water better than in smaller pots. You might consider then, to place your Kentia Palm in a large pot and call it a day. But, in my experience, too big a pot can have detrimental consequences on your Kentia Palm. 

Rather opt for a pot that’s a few inches wider than your palm’s root ball. This will keep your Kentia Palm happy and thriving. 

Additionally, you should also consider opting for a ceramic container with sufficient drainage holes. Root rot and other diseases, such as Powdery Mildew, will flourish if your pot doesn’t remove excess water sufficiently. 

You could opt, then, for terracotta pots. However, they tend to draw moisture from the soil, so you’ll need to water your Kentia Palm far more frequently. As stunning as terracotta pots are, I find that I am constantly watering my plants in the summer, thanks to how quickly the soil dries out. 

Seasonal Variations

Kentia Palm growth slows down during the winter months, often going dormant. As such, you won’t need to water your plant as often. 

On the other hand, during spring and summer, its growing season, your Kentia Palm will become thirstier, needing more water more frequently.

The Best Watering Techniques

To ensure optimal soil saturation, I use the deep watering method.

This method involves slowly watering your Kentia Palm, allowing every inch of the soil to become saturated. You should only stop watering once excess water begins draining from the holes.

Alternatively, you can place your Kentia Palm on a tray with some water, allowing the soil and roots to absorb the water from the bottom up. However, in most cases, my houseplants don’t do well with this method, including my Kentia Palm. 

Watering Amounts

Again, you need to overthink this, in my experience. I fill up my watering can with filtered water and pour continuously around the base of the plant until excess water starts to disperse through the drainage holes. Usually, this is around ¼ gallon max (0.5L to 1L) of water in total. The size of your plant and the volume of soil will also affect the amount. 

What Type of Water is Best for Kentia Palms? 

As robust as Kentia Palms are, these plants can be sensitive to the salts and chemicals in tap water. Like most houseplants, you should consider using clean rainwater, distilled water, or, at the very least, filtered water. 

My Kentia Palm Watering Schedule 

Considering the many factors affecting how often you should, there is no hard and fast rule about when you should water your Kentia Palm.  

Instead, opt to use the finger test method every week to check the dryness of the soil. You should only water your Kentia Palm if the top few inches of the soil are dry. For most, this will be approximately every 7 to 10 days. For others, it might be a day or two sooner or even a day or two later. 

Watering Kentia Palms After Repotting 

After repotting your Kentia Palm, water deeply and thoroughly, as you would with any other adult plant. 

What to Do Between Watering 

You should allow your Kentia Palm to dry out a little between watering cycles. However, not for too long. As mentioned, you should begin checking the soil each week to avoid overwatering or underwatering your Kentia Palm. 

Overwatering and Underwatering 

Overwatering and Underwatering

Signs of an overwatered or underwatered Kentia Palm include:

  • Overwatered – Yellowed fronds are a sign of overwatering and potential root rot. 
  • Underwatered – An underwatered Kentia Palm usually has dried fronds with brown tips.  

Wrapping up 

Watering your Kentia Palm correctly ensures your new houseplant thrives. But, considering the many factors affecting how and when you should water your palm, I suggest sticking to the finger test method. This way, you’ll know exactly when to water your Kentia Palm.

For more in-depth information, read our in-depth guide to Kentia Palm care.

Editorial Director | andrew@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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