Giant Peace Lily vs Cat Palm

lexie1397September 24, 2007

Hello All!

I am trying to fill two spaces in my new apartment with a couple large plants, and would like suggestions from more experienced house plant growers on what I should purchase.

The first room faces west, and the plant would be directly in front of the window. The room is usually a bit warm but likely not more than 75 degrees.

The other area has east facing windows. In this case, the plant would be about 8 feet from the window, but the room tends to be very bright overall.

Both rooms are usually quite dry, but frequent watering and occasional misting is an option. However, as winter sets in, schoolwork takes higher priority than plants, so they would need to be quite patient with me!

The two plants I'm strongly considering are a Cat Palm and a Giant sized Peace Lily that I've seen at Home Depot and Wal-mart both. I have a peace Lily that has done pretty well for me, but I'm not sure how different the great big one is. I've never taken care of any sort of palm, so I'm not sure what I'd be getting myself into there.

Any advice or alternate plant suggestions are warmly welcomed!!

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Hi Lexie...I'm not sure what a Cat Palm is, but I'm assuming it's some type of palm, right? LOL
Most palms do not like a lot of heat in winter. In fact, more often than not, palms growing in artificial heated rooms will attract Spider Mites.
You also use the term, "frequent watering".. Are you saying you tend to overwater plants? Remember, soil needs to dry between waterings..(most tropicals) Never overwater a plant, especially while growing indoors during winter months.
The largest of Peace Lily's,(Mauna Loa) is a beautiful plant and does well in bright are huge.
I believe the Mauna is the one you mean..

Lexie, there are many types of plants to choose from, but 78F is a bit hot. Is this a definate temperature? Toni

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 7:15PM
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I've had good luck with the larger cultivars of peace lily, personally -- I've had one for a few years, and it's been pretty reasonable. The smaller ones seem to have more issues with dry air. Palms and I aren't really speaking to each other anymore, and I wouldn't really recommend them, but it's not impossible. Lady palms (Rhapis excelsa) are supposed to be nice.

If you're set on a big plant for both spots, there are some larger Aglaonemas (Chinese evergreen) that are very nice, and Ags are generally tolerant of everything except cold and full sun.

I have a large Dieffenbachia that's been with me a while too, which I am very fond of: they're less patient than Aglaonemas, and need a bit more watering, but even so.

The Dracaenas -- D. fragrans (corn plant) and D. deremensis ('Warneckii,' 'Lemon-Lime,' 'Janet Craig') are all very tolerant of neglect and dry air, and some get to be big. Overwatering is a concern. More or less the same thing goes for snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata).

I'm also a big fan of the long-leaf fig (Ficus binnendijkii), which I have found to be just fine with almost everything I've tried to do with it.

Yucca elephantipes and Zamioculcas zamiifolia can both deal with pretty long periods of neglect, though both are slow growers (ZZ more so than Yucca) and will rot if overwatered. The Yucca might prefer more light than you have in those spots, but they're very adaptable.

Bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolae, S. reginae) are a lot easier than they're given credit for, and I have mine (all four of them) in a west window. Watering is trickier with small plants than with large. Probably not the best choice, but if you like them, it could work out.

Rubber plant (Ficus elastica) and fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) are both nice plants. A little moody, perhaps, but pretty tolerant of neglect and dry air, and both are great-looking if they're well taken care of.

Schefflera actinophylla (umbrella tree) is also probably possible, but I'm hesitant to recommend those because they're so easily devoured by spider mites, especially in dry air.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 7:43PM
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I'm not really sure what a Cat Palm is either... that's just what the pot said. To me, it looks like any old palm! I don't usually overwater, in fact just the opposite. (I've discovered that misting cures the need to fuss with my plants without damage) I even try to keep all terra cotta to help monitor moisture. But hubby loves the tropical plants, and I'm willing to water a little more if needed. Normally, I water when I notice a little bit of wiltiness.
Did I say 78? I meant 75... and only at the warmest. I'd guess normally about 73.

Mr S-
WOW, thanks for all the suggestions!! I would like to have something a little larger since we have so much blank white wall space, and no plant stands! My regular peace lily is my largest, and is finally looking proportionate to its 12" pot.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 8:28PM
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"Cat palm" is the new old slang for Chamaedorea cataractum, a relative of the parlor palm (C. elegans) that was popular in the 70s. It is supposed to be even more attractive to spider mites than C. elegans is, if you can believe it.

Since the cat palm revival seems to have sprung up all at once, pretty recently, I'm thinking that someone may have bred or tissue-cultured or engineered a more pest-resistant variety, but I'm just guessing.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 10:21PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

The giant peace lilies are one of my favorites - I like the tropical look that the large leaves give. The care is basically the same as for any other peace lily, but they do need larger quantities of water to support all that leaf area. One of my coworkers used to joke that they were a "peace lily with a drinking problem"! So if you get too busy to water, you could be in trouble. Do not put a peace lily right in front of a west window - it will bleach out and look icky. It should like your east window very much.

I don't recommend palms for most folks indoors - they are quite challenging, especially in conditions of warm, dry air that encourage spider mites. However, the lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) is a lot more tolerant than other types of palms. It would do well in your west window (that's where I have mine). You are unlikely to find one at Home Depot or Walmart, since they tend to be rather expensive.

mr subjunctive has some other excellent recommendations for you - you can probably find the rubber tree, some of the dracaenas (especially the corn plant), and some ficus at your Walmart or Home Depot. A ficus would love your west window - go for the long-leafed variety like Ficus alii if you can find it, although Ficus benjamina (the one usually seen) would do well too, it just drops leaves more often.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 10:54PM
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Lexie, Mr Sub and Watergal have given great advice.
Where do you plan on shopping?
I've 2 ideas.
Do you have plant books? Or is there a nearby library you can borrow plant books? If you can get your hands on a few, browse through pics and care..If you see a plant you like, read care instructions..If your rooms are suitable after reading care instructions, write down the name of plants, then start hunting for the plants you've jotted down.
Another idea is to go to your local nurseries, see what's available..If you don't mind starting smaller plants, you can find numerous places online. If you want large trees, go to local nurseries, or places like Home Depot, Lowe's (I never shopped there,) Ikea, Walmart and Menards. It's a good time to find tropicals since many are on sale..Most stores are trying to rid summer stock, you'd be shocked by their prices.
Walmart had a Red Cardinal Philodendron for 7.99 in a 10" pot..they're quite pretty, and grow tall. Lots of red on leaves/stems.
I too love the large leaf Peace looks terrific in its own area..they grow wide and tall, w/huge leaves and flowers and don't require a ton of care..As long as it's not overwatered, gets at least medium sun, and fertilized twice a yr during growing season, you'll have a nice specimen. Let us know what you choose..Toni

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 3:59PM
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