Most indoor palms have similar water requirements regardless of the plant variety. Palm plants naturally grow in humid tropical and subtropical areas where plenty of moisture is readily available. The drier conditions inside most homes make palms require a higher amount of watering than they do in their natural environs.
Soil Quality and Moisture
While palm plants grow best in moist soils, too much moisture can cause plant health to decline. A well-drained potting soil that contains organic matter ensures the soil holds on to enough moisture to feed the palm without becoming soggy. A quality potting soil that has perlite or vermiculite in it is effective. The perlite or vermiculite provides porosity to the soil for drainage, while the organic matter retains the necessary moisture for healthy growth. These soils are also less prone to compaction, which allows them to both absorb and drain water properly.
Always feel the soil before watering. Soil that looks dry on top may still be wet just beneath the surface. Stick your finger 2 inches into the soil. If the soil feels dry at a 1-inch depth the palm needs watering. Water at the base of the trunk until the excess water drips from the bottom of the pot. Empty water collected in the drip tray after you are done watering so the palm isn't left in standing water. Indoor palms may need watered up to twice a week depending on how dry your home is. In humid areas, the palms may need less frequent watering. Feel the soil every three to five days to determine the watering frequency for your plant.
Water Stress Symptoms
Be aware of the signs of water stress so you can remedy any problems before they permanently damage the palm. The tips and margins of the leaves begin to brown when the palm isn't receiving enough water. Too much water is just as harmful. When the plant is provided with the right amount of moisture, the leaves will still naturally die and fall off the palm. Overwatered plants, however, may begin dropping otherwise healthy fronds. A foul odor may also emanate from the soil as the roots begin to rot and turn mushy.
Even indoor plants dry out more quickly during summer, especially if the palms are receiving more light and heat through the windows. Water more frequently to prevent rapid soil drying. Check the soil every other day and water when the top half-inch feels dry. If you move your indoor palms outside during the summer, check the soil daily. The hot outdoor temperatures and drying summer breezes may necessitate daily watering.
Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.