Parlor Palm vs. Kentia Palm: What’s the Difference?

Parlor palms (Chamaedorea elegans) and Kentia palms (Howea forsteriana) are indoor palms that belong to the Arecaceae family. While they are quite similar, there are some aesthetic differences that make them different plants with different needs.

Both palms are easy to care for and are low maintenance. The parlor palm is native to Mexico and Central America, however, the Kentia palm is native to the tropical forests in Australia. Their main differences are in their size and appearance, as they have different leaf shapes, colors, and heights.

Before making a purchase, it is important to know the differences and similarities between each palm as one may fit better than the other in your home.

The Parlor Palm

The parlor palm is popular as a houseplant and is commonly referred to as the table palm. The tropical palm is usually purchased as a young, small plant so it can be decorative and fit in any space.

The low-maintenance plant can handle neglect at times and do great in any light in your home, whether it is low or bright light.

It is a slow-growing plant and can usually grow up to 6 to 9 feet tall indoors. The foliage can even reach up to 6 feet long.

The parlor palm is known for its household qualities of filtering air and being beneficial to people with allergies. It effectively removes harmful toxins in the air and is also non-toxic to dogs and cats.

The Kentia Palm

The Kentia palm is a tropical palm that is native to the rain forests on Lord Howe Island in Australia. It is typically grown as an indoor tropical palm like the parlor palm.

The palm is a low-maintenance palm that is easy to care for. The Kentia palm, which is also a slow grower, can reach up to 10 feet tall indoors.

Similar to the parlor palm, it is a great air purifier and is non-toxic to dogs and cats.

Parlor PalmKentia Palm
Native EnvironmentCentral AmericaLord Howe Island in Australia
Plant FamilyArecaceae Arecaceae 
Leaf ColorLight GreenDark Green
FoliageWispy, feathery foliageWide but wispy foliage
HeightGrows up to 6-9 ft IndoorsGrows up to 10 ft Indoors
Light RequirementLow and Bright LightLow and Bright Light
Toxicity to PetsNon-toxicNon-toxic
Purify Air?YesYes
Where to Grow?Indoors and OutdoorsIndoors and Outdoors

Parlor Palm and Kentia Palm: How Are They Different?

The parlor palm and the Kentia palm are both tropical plants that belong to the same family of palms.

They are quite similar, and while their differences are subtle, they are still noticeable. Knowing about each palm can help you pick which one will be best in your home.

Plant Size

Both plants can grow quite tall indoors. They grow slowly but can reach great heights over time. However, the parlor palm is shorter than the Kentia palm.

The parlor palm can reach up to 6 to 9 feet indoors in optimal conditions. The Kentia palm can reach almost 10 feet indoors, making it a much taller plant.

Leaf Size

The parlor palm’s leaves are wispy and their foliage is slender. The foliage grows upright and straight.

Similar to the parlor palm, the Kentia palm’s leaves grow straight up. While Kentia palm leaves grow similarly to the parlor palm, its leaves are short and wider than the parlor palm.

The Kentia palm foliage fans out from a short length and is normally about 2.5 feet long. The leaf stem can be up to 7 feet. The parlor palm’s foliage can grow up to 6 feet.

Leaf Color

The Kentia palm’s foliage can reach a deep dark green. While the parlor palm’s foliage is a lighter green color.

This aesthetic difference may be important when it comes to matching the style and look of your home. If you want a deep green, the Kentia palm should be your go-to choice.

However, if you are looking for something lighter, the parlor palm will be the better buy for your home.

Native Countries

Both palms are native to tropical environments and rainforest habitats.

The Kentia palm, however, is found on the Australian island known as Lord Howe Island. The parlor palm is native to Mexico and Central America.

Both environments are tropical, the palms are just found in different places of the world.

Repotting Needs

The Kentia palm is known as a low-maintenance palm, and when you perform maintenance on it like repotting, it may get a little upset.

The Kentia palm’s roots are very sensitive and should not be touched or repotted unless it is completely root-bound to its pot.

The parlor palm, however, is less sensitive to repotting but will not need to be repotted for quite some time after you purchase it.

They are slow growers, so this may not be necessary for a couple of years after owning the plant.


The parlor palm and the Kentia palm used to both be regarded as Victorian and luxurious plants. However, the parlor palm may be a little bit more affordable than the Kentia palm.

The Kentia palm is common but may be more difficult to come by than the parlor palm.

Because of this, the Kentia palm price is slightly higher than the parlor palm.

While there is a difference in price, they are both affordable plants to find for your home.

Parlor Palm and Kentia Palm: How Are They Similar?

The parlor palm and the Kentia palm are quite similar even with their differences.

Since they are from the same family of palms, they share many characteristics.

Low-Maintenance and Easy to Care For

The parlor palm and the Kentia palm are both easy to care for plants. Since they are low-maintenance, they are sought after by homeowners that want a plant but do not need much attention.

They are also great beginner plants for plant owners that are just getting started raising houseplants.

The palms usually only need to be watered once or twice a week when their soil is dry. If you forget to water them, they will easily survive until you water them.

They normally do not need to be repotted as they are slow growers. They do not need any fertilizers or pesticides.

Slow Growers

Both palms are slow-growing plants. You will not need to repot them as often as most houseplants.

They simply do well in the original pots they were in, only needing to be repotted after years of growth.

Great Air Purifiers

Another reason why indoor palms are sought after is that they are great air purifiers.

A NASA study found that the parlor palm effectively removes toxins in the air such as ammonia and formaldehyde. The Kentia palm can easily remove the same kind and amount of toxins.

Because they filter out the air, parlor palms and Kentia palms are beneficial to allergy sufferers. The palms can effectively remove harmful particles that may cause irritation and allergies.

Safe for Pets

The ASPCA has noted that the parlor palm and the Kentia palm are non-toxic to dogs and cats.

If you have furry friends in your home that at times get into your plants, the parlor palm and the Kentia palm are completely harmless.

Both Are Great Indoor and Outdoor Plants

Both palms are native to the tropical outdoors, making them thrive in bright outdoor conditions. Neither palm is restricted to being an indoor plant.

If you decide to move it to an outdoor space you have, you can easily do so without harming the plant.

If you feel your Kentia or parlor palm should go to your backyard or front yard, they can easily adapt to becoming outdoor plants.

Related: Parlor Palm vs. Areca Palm, Parlor Palm vs. Cat Palm, Majesty Palm vs. Parlor Palm