Chamaedorea metallica (common name: Metallica Palm, also known as Metal Palm and Miniature Fishtail Palm) is a tough, slow-growing, resilient palm, tolerant of relatively low-light. It makes a good houseplant and used commonly in commercial settings. Metallica Palm are grown outdoors in USDA zones 9-12. Its mature height is five feet tall.
Metallica palm is native to shady understory forest beds of Mexico, which helps make it tolerant of low-light. Due to its low-light adaptations, Metallica palm is best kept out of direct sunlight. The stiff, undivided leaves are borne on a single-stem trunk and are dark blue-green with a metallic sheen with a ‘fish-tail’ shape. Large, dark-green leaves are a common trait of low-light plants including Spathiphyllum, Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant), and Janet Craig Dracaena.
Metallica palms occasionally flower, producing attractive red, purple, or orange flowers, eventually giving way to small black fruits which are non-edible.
Watering needs for Metallica Palm is similar to most palms—they prefer an evenly moist soil. Make sure the plant does not dry out or get over-watered. It should never sit in standing water (for example, water in the drainage saucer). Standing water is absorbed by the soil, making it water-logged and unhealthy for the roots of the plants.
Metallica palms can be somewhat difficult to find for purchase—typically found only in garden centers with a wide selection of plants. As it’s a slow-growing palm, it’s not the cheapest plant you can buy but that also means it will typically last longer because its demands are lower than fast-growing palms and it won’t easily out-grow its container or space. Too often consumers are tempted to buy larger plants sold at cheaper prices—but they unknowingly sacrifice a higher-quality, longer-lasting plant in the process. Many of the best interior plants are slow-growers that typically cost more than fast-growing plants.
Pests of Metallica palm include spider mites and mealybug—two of the most common pests of houseplants. If encountered, both can be controlled safely with natural pesticides such as soap and oil sprays sold at garden centers. Be sure to read and follow the label if using any sprays. Due to the large size of the leaves, mealybug can be wiped off the leaves with ease.
Chamaedorea is the botanical genus of over 100 types of low-growing palms native to the Americas, including Chamaedorea elegans (common name: Neanthe Belle or Parlor Palm—a very common houseplant) and Chamaedorea erumpens & C. seifrizii (Bamboo Palm) and Chamaedorea cataractarum (Cat Palm). “Chamaedorea” is of Greek origin translating into “gift on the ground” referring to the easily accessible fruits and the low-growing nature of these palms.
If you have not tried this plant, give it a shot!
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