When we think of Palms, the image of tropical beaches and tree-lined coastal streets might come to mind. Palms have been decorating our cities and homes inside and out for centuries!
In the Victorian era, Palms were popularized as symbols of exoticism, wealth, and good taste. It was the Victorian invention of glasshouses that allowed plants to thrive due to improved access to sunlight. The Victorians loved their Palms and made efforts to cultivate and collect different species, of which there are now over 2600!
Two popular species that fill the corners of contemporary houses are the Majesty Palm and the Cat Palm. Although there are many similarities between Cat Palm vs. Majesty Palm, they have almost entirely opposite needs.
Majesty Palms can be hard to grow indoors because they need high humidity, direct sunlight, and moist, well-draining acidic soil. Cat Palms make great indoor plants because they need indirect sunlight and moist, neutral pH soil but can also tolerate periods of drought.
Find out everything you need to know about these cheery, decorative plants!
Are Majesty Palm and Cat Palm the Same?
At first glance, these two plants may not appear very different. They are both Palms, after all! But they are, in fact, two separate species.
The easiest way to tell them apart is by their fronds or leaves. Cat Palm fronds are short, airy, and have an arch. Cat Palms naturally grow beneath the tree canopy, so their overall size is much shorter than the Majesty Palm.
Majesty Palm leaves fan out much wider than a Cat Palm. In the wild, Majesty Palms can grow to towering heights of 40 feet (12 m)! Even indoors, they require a lot of space and enjoy spreading out. If you have a small space, they can easily take over a room with their size.
Since these Palms have become so popular indoors, let’s look at some of their similarities and differences as houseplants.
Majesty Palm: Indoor Care
The Majesty Palm is native to Madagascar, where 83% of palm trees are at risk of becoming extinct. It’s increasingly challenging to find Majesty Palms in the wild, so they mostly thrive today as indoor plants. Unfortunately, it can be a bit tricky to keep happy!
Majesty Palms like lots of humidity when indoors to replicate their native home. Most homes do not have the required humidity level, so the Majesty Palm needs frequent misting or a humidifier.
Their love of humidity means that these plants are also not tolerant of dry soil. The Majesty Palm needs constantly moist soil but also cannot tolerate its roots sitting in water. A well-draining pot is a must; always empty the saucer if it has any standing water.
Palms in general love bright light, and the Majesty Palm can even handle direct sunlight in small doses. Sometimes owners bring their plant outside for the summer to help meet its light requirements.
Majesty Palms require humid, wet, and very bright spaces. Most homes don’t meet these requirements, so it will take some work to keep this finicky plant happy!
Cat Palm: Indoor Care
The Cat Palm naturally grows under the forest canopy, close to the forest floor. This area of the forest is typically shady, wet, and cool.
Unlike the Majesty Palm, the Cat Palm can handle periods of shade mixed with indirect light. This makes these plants ideal indoors where there isn’t always lots of sunlight.
Like most other shade plants, the Cat Palm likes its soil moist. It’s much more tolerant of dry soil than the Majesty Palm so the top layer can dry out between watering.
Regarding soil pH, the Cat Palm is much easier to please as it likes a neutral pH. Most store-bought indoor potting mixes will suit this plant perfectly. Majesty Palms need more acidic soil, so you’ll have to create your own mix or add materials like peat moss to potting soil to lower the pH.
Do Cat Palms Purify the Air?
We enjoy Palms as a way to bring that “vacation vibe” into our homes. They truly brighten up a space and make you (almost) feel like you’re at the ocean!
Perhaps the reason they make us feel this way is that Palms are excellent air purifiers! They purify common pollutants in the air like formaldehyde, mold, and carbon monoxide. NASA even did a study in 1989 and found plants like Palms help remove toxins and add oxygen to closed spaces.
And this isn’t just limited to the Cat Palm. All Palms have this unique and beneficial ability!
Can I Put My Majesty Palm Outside?
While Majesty Palms have become popular houseplants, they also thrive as landscape plants. They can survive in USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11 year-round and, with the correct soil, can be planted directly into the ground.
If your Majesty Palm has been grown indoors, it will be more accustomed to lower light. It may shock your plant if you suddenly bring your Majesty Palm outdoors into direct sunlight.
So you can bring your potted Majesty Palm outside in the warmer summer months, just not in the direct sun. House your Palm under a shady deck or patio, and ensure you water it more often due to the increased heat.
Majesty Palm Vs. Parlor Palm
The Parlor Palm is perhaps the most classic indoor Palm. Victorian parlors were the entryway to the home and often featured these broad, dramatic Palms. Their resilience to low light led them to become an indoor favorite.
The Parlor Palm has similar care requirements as a Cat Palm, as it thrives in low light with moist to dry soil. More or less, it has almost the opposite requirements of Majesty Palm.
If you choose between these two, the Parlor Palm is much easier to care for as an indoor plant.
What is the Easiest Palm to Grow Indoors?
The Parlor Palm is probably the easiest Palm to grow and care for indoors. They’re widely available and an excellent option for beginner gardeners!
Aside from the Parlor Palm, several other Palms prefer indirect light and low to medium humidity. And they come in many unique shapes and sizes.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Chinese Fan Palm: Grows tall stems with uniquely fanned leaves and requires low to medium light and regular misting.
- Ponytail Palm: Known for its unique curly leaves, it’s a tolerant palm plant that can handle bright light and dry soil.
- Areca Palm: This palm can grow up to 8 feet! The Areca Palm requires minimal fertilizing and tolerates low light.
- Pygmy Date Palm: The Pygmy Date Palm grows slowly, likes bright sun, and doesn’t mind colder weather.
Are Palm Plants Toxic to Cats?
Cat and dog lovers can breathe a sigh of relief because Palm trees and plants are not toxic to pets.
There is a plant called Sago Palm, which is extremely toxic to cats and dogs. Although its name and appearance suggest it is a Palm, the Sago Palm is a cycad.
The reason why this plant is so toxic is that its leaves contain a toxin called cycasin. Pets that ingest this toxin may experience:
So if you have pets, avoid the Sago Palm. Instead, opt for a true palm like the Cat Palm or Majesty Palm.
Why is My Majesty Palm Yellow?
The main culprit of yellow Majesty Palm leaves is overwatering. Although this plant likes constantly wet soil, the soil will become waterlogged if there’s a lack of drainage.
The green color in Palm leaves comes from chlorophyll. When roots become waterlogged, they suffocate because they can’t access oxygen. They will stop delivering water and nutrients to the plant, causing the lack of chlorophyll.
If your Palm is suffering from yellow leaves, you need to improve the drainage. Make sure your pot has drainage holes. If there is a saucer to collect water, empty it to prevent the roots from sitting in the water.
The best way to water a Palm is to soak the pot in a sink or bathtub of water. Saturate the soil with water, then let the pot sit somewhere to drain for 10-15 minutes.
Palms are an elegant way to evoke that summertime feeling anywhere in your home. They’re also fantastic air purifiers, cementing their place as a must-have indoor plant! Cat Palm and Majesty Palm share many similarities that make them equally attractive as houseplants. Their broad regal fronds and lush green color are well-suited for practically any decor.
Majesty Palms can be hard to grow indoors because they need high humidity and bright sunlight, while Cat Palms make great indoor plants because they do well with indirect light and can tolerate dry soil.
Majesty Palms will take a little more energy to be happy indoors. They require bright light, humidity, and constantly wet but well-draining acidic soil. The Cat Palm can tolerate shady spaces and doesn’t mind their soil being dry at times.
Perhaps it’s time to add one of these beautiful palms to your collection!