8 Palm Trees That Stay Small [Great Houseplants Options!]

Sago Palm in a pot on a balcony table, 8 Palm Trees That Stay Small [Great Houseplants Options!]Exotic palms are subtropical plants that bring a vivacious vibe into your home. Palms are a lovely addition to indoor living rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, and enclosed sunrooms. Grown indoors, potted palms are no-fuss plants that stay healthy in most USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. So, you can enjoy the tropics at any time of the year.

Palms prefer full sun to indirect bright sunlight, but partial shade varieties are an excellent choice to be grown indoors if you are decorating low-light rooms. A humid climate is ideal for many palms (60°F to 85°F), but several drought-tolerant varieties make great houseplants because they need to be watered only sparingly. 

When choosing indoor palms, size matters too. You want a palm to accentuate a room, not overtake it by growing through the roof. Given an adequately sized container (15 inches to 30 inches in diameter), many varieties of palms can achieve their fully mature height indoors. Consider dwarf or small to medium palm varieties to grow indoors at your home. 

Check out our list of palm trees that can be good houseplants because they stay small. We’ve conveniently arranged these eight palm varieties for you from shortest to tallest, by the potential height at full maturation (10-15 years old) for indoor growth. 

1. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

An exotic ornamental plant, the sago palm is a member of the cycas family closely related to cone-bearing conifers. You’ll notice the conifer resemblance of the palm’s dark green pinnate leaves. Fronds project outwards up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) from the base of the plant’s stem. Potted sago palms can grow between 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) tall.

Under ideal growing conditions, mature male and female plants bloom approximately every three years. Blooms are intricate leaf structures formed at the base, conical on male plants, and basket-shaped on female plants. 

Cycas revoluta also known as Sago Palm in a pot on a balcony table

 

Growing Tips:

  • Full sun (partial shade encourages frond growth).
  • Permeable, sandy soil. 
  • Water sparingly.
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 – 11.

Important to note, especially if you share your home with young children or pets, that sago palms are toxic and should never be ingested. Spiny leaf tips help to deter curious eaters.

2. Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix

A clumping palm with sharp thorns at the base of the stems, the needle palm is aptly named. Glossy, light green leaves form fan-shaped fronds. Needle palms grow quickly to become 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall and up to 12 feet (3.6 meters) wide. Tiny yellow flowers bloom during spring, followed by non-edible red-brown fruits

Growing Tips:

  • Full sun to partial shade. 
  • Permeable soil. 
  • Keep moist. 
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6 – 10. 

The needle palm is a great choice for growing indoors as a potted plant because it can adapt to be reasonably tolerant of drought and low-light conditions. No need to worry if you have forgotten a round of watering, the needle palm will prevail. 

3. Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans

The brilliant green, airy fronds of this quintessential indoor palm bring a tropical atmosphere into your home. Growing between 2 to 6 feet (0.5 to 2 meters) tall, the clumping parlor palm is low maintenance and relatively tolerant of indoor low-light conditions.

Native to the rainforest of Southern Mexico, the parlor palm does prefer humid air and moist soil. Be cautious not to oversaturate potted palms by providing permeable soil and a well-draining container to prevent root rot.

Chamaedorea elegans also known as Parlor Palm on a white pot inside the house

 

Growing Tips: 

  • Indirect sunlight to partial shade. 
  • Loamy soil.
  • Keep moist. 
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10 – 11. 

Use the parlor palm to accentuate floral arrangements and form decorative wreaths, because the fronds will keep their green appearance for up to 40 days after being snipped from the stem.

4. Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

Bring a tropical scene indoors with the stout, slow-growing Pygmy date palm. Pygmy date palms grow between 4 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.5 meters) tall, depending on container size. Bright green, pinnate leaves comprise an arching canopy that extends from long-reaching, spiny fronds. During spring, yellow flowers come aglow, followed by tiny, purple dates.

 

Growing Tips:

  • Indirect sunlight to partial shade. 
  • Permeable soil.
  • Keep moist. 
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9 – 11. 

Pygmy date palms thrive in moist soil but should have good drainage, so they don’t become soggy and risk root rot. During autumn and winter months, the soil can stay drier because the Pygmy date palm’s growth is less active in cooler temperatures.

The date palm is one of the most ancient, cultivated plants throughout the world. Learn more about palm history at our blog, “Where are Palms From (and Where Can They Grow)?

5. Dwarf Majesty Palm (Ravenea hildrebrandtii)

Regal, green fronds of the dwarf majesty palm breathe tropical breezes into your home. This palm is native to Madagascar and thrives in humid climates. Dwarf majesty palm grows quickly to tower between 5 to 9 feet (1.5 to 3 meters) tall. Plumed fronds extend from the stem for an overarching, breezy feel. Ideal for indoor lighting conditions, too much direct sunlight can scorch fronds and turn them yellow.

 

Growing Tips:

  • Indirect sunlight.
  • Loamy soil
  • Keep moist. 
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9 – 11. 

Although the dwarf majesty palm can tolerate temperatures as low as 40°F, it does not fair well in drafty locations where temperatures fluctuate throughout the day. Try to avoid locating the majesty palm near breezeways, drafty windows, and drafty doorways.

6. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

The Lady palm is an ornate fan palm with either dark green or variegated green-yellow fronds. A slow grower, this palm can reach heights of 6 to 12 feet (2 to 3.6 meters) indoors. To encourage growth, transplant lady palm into a larger container every two years until the palm has reached your desired height. 

Rhapis excelsa also known as Lady Palm in a house garden

 

Growing Tips:

  • Indirect sunlight to shade.
  • Permeable soil. 
  • Water sparingly. 
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 – 12. 

Lady palms are native to China, but these cultivated plants do not grow in the wild. Because it is incredibly easy to grow and partial to low-light conditions, it makes an ideal houseplant.

7. Baby Queen Palm (Chamaedorea plumosa)

Feathery fronds of the baby queen palm are a delightful, warm accent to any room. Skinny stems of this clumping palm are ideal for compact growth in containers. Baby queen palms reach heights between 6 to 12 feet tall (2 to 3.6 meters) with a canopy of gently overarching, pinnate leaves.

 

Growing Tips: 

  • Indirect sunlight.
  • Permeable soil. 
  • Water sparingly. 
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9 – 11. 

Baby queen palm prefers bright sunlight, but too much direct sunlight can scorch delicate fronds to turn them yellow. If you start to see yellowed fronds, consider relocating your baby queen palm to an area with indirect sunlight.

8. Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

A hardy clumping palm, the Mediterranean fan palm is a no-fuss plant native to Europe. Broad, fan-shaped leaves range in hues of grey-green, blue-green, and yellow-green. Mediterranean fan palms grow between 8 to 15 feet (2 to 4 meters) tall and 10 feet wide, but potted plants can be stunted at 6 feet (2 meters) tall. Yellow blooms at springtime make this palm a lovely accent piece in any home.

Chamaerops humilis also known as Mediterranean Fan Palm on a pot

 

Growing Tips:

  • Partial sun (partial shade encourages frond growth).
  • Sandy to loamy soil.
  • Water sparingly.
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 – 11. 

If sharing your home with young children or pets, note that frond stems on the Mediterranean fan palm are lined with sharp thorns

Now that you know about several small to medium palms that make good houseplants check out our blog, “12 Awesome Planters & Pots for Palm Trees,” to find the right container to coordinate with your home decor. 

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