Holly’s Top 5 Favorite Palms

By Holly, Senior Sales Associate at Seascapes Nursery


Palms. The icon of the tropics.

From common coconuts to exotic specimens, there are many ways to enjoy palm trees. In an effort to keep a temporarily injured worker busy, my brilliant boss asked me to share the lowdown on my five favorite palms.

Dypsis pinnatifrons

Dypsis pinnatifrons, the Madagascar palm. A solitary, slow growing, shade lover that tops out at 40 feet. It’s as happy in the garden planted in multiples as it is solitary, and I enjoy it as a house plant.

I love the color of the emerging fronds, bright maroon, reddish pink changing to a shiny dark forest green at maturity, and their delicate lacey character uncommon to palms.

This is popular collectors palm goes quietly unnoticed and respects your appreciation once you see it

Chamaedorea elegans

Contrasting the Madagascar palm is the Chamaedorea elegans, aka the Parlour palm. At a max height of 7 feet, this happy, slow growing, shade loving, clumping palm is great indoors.

C. elegans brother, C. seifrizeii is on NASA’s certified list of air cleaning plants. Miss elegans won’t take the toxins out of your air, but her fronds, known as xate (shatay), can last up to 40 days in cut floral arrangements.

I love this one for her cheery bright green color, short stature, dense clump of narrow canes, and her gracefully floating fronds from top to bottom.

Ptychosperma waitianum

Ptychosperma waitianum, commonly the Paupan Fishtail Palm, brother to the MacArthur Palm, but a distinct individual, nonetheless. I love the pinnately arranged leaflets, resembling ferns, with jagged edges. The emerging fronds are stunningly beautiful, vibrant dark maroon changing to an orangish red and finally dark green.

P. waitianum is another quietly unnoticed solitary palm with confident posture, reaching 15 feet tall. It is commonly planted in multiples and makes a great specimen for the shade garden.  This palm was largely a mystery to palm enthusiasts at its introduction to Florida from Papua New Guinea in 1956. After researching the complex genus, the new intriguing undescribed species was named after Lucita Wait, for her tremendous efforts as the Executive Secretary of the Palm society (www.palmpedia.net).

Rhapis excela

More commonly used and well known than others listed above, the Rhapis excela, or Lady Palm, has to be on my list of top 5 palms.

The furry looking canes with their friendly waving fronds make a great neighbor as a hedge outside in a shady spot of your yard, in your house to keep you company, or as a specimen on the front lanai to greet you.

This slow growing versatile palm reaches 12 feet and is on NASA’s certified list for cleaning toxins in the air.

Johannesteijsmannia altifrons

Last and certainly not least, is the Johannesteijsmannia altifrons, the Joey Palm. This gem of a plant has huge diamond shaped fronds spanning 20 feet tall and wide.

I love how the green to blue hue majestic fronds come together at a “trunkless” base. Although it looks trunkless, it’s actually subterranean; a very unique characteristic.

This specimen palm requires shade and protection from the wind. It can be grown indoors in a bright location as well.


I have a very special relationship with all these palms, they are my favorites and I have really enjoyed sharing them with you. Thanks for taking the time to read and learn a little about the iconic palms in my heart. Have a great day and happy gardening!

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