Chamaedorea is a plant genus that belongs with the Arecaceae family. It consists of more than 100 species of palm plants that are native to rain forests in Mexico and Central America. Generally, the plants have an extremely thin stem that reaches several feet in height and produces leaves that are dark green and feather-shaped. Some of the species within the chamaedorea genus include C. elegans, C. erumpens, and C. radicalis.
Typically, chamaedorea plants are grown in raised beds, ground-level beds, community trays, or cell trays. The chamaedorea seeds generally require a well-draining soil that has an acidic pH and a temperature around 90° F (about 32° C). Once the seedlings emerge, the soil temperature is typically reduced to 80° F (about 27° C), and the plant is placed in direct sunlight for the a few months.
A common problem with growing chamaedoreas is nutrient deficiencies associated with poor soil conditions. A high soil pH generally causes manganese and iron deficiencies, which can lead to discoloration and necrotic spots on the leaves. Also, magnesium leaches through the soil before the roots of the chamaedorea have the opportunity to absorb it. These problems are typically alleviated by adding dolomitic limestone and magnesium sulfate fertilizer to the soil.
Chamaedorea plants are susceptible to insect damage from fungal gnats, mites, and scales. Fungal gnats usually roam around the soil or underneath the leaves that are closest to the ground. Most of the damage is caused by the larvae, which are clear in color and have two black eyes. They usually feed on the roots, stems, and fallen leaves. Reducing the amount of water and avoiding algae growth in the pot can reduce the risk of fungal gnat infestation.
Mite infestations are harder to detect and usually are only noticed when the chamaedorea plant begins to turn yellow or speckled. Scales on the other hand, are easy to recognize. Their rounded body and brown color are usually noticed before the plant becomes weak and stunted. Both are typically controlled with pesticides.
There are several fungal diseases that can affect chamaedorea, including root rot. It is caused by the Phytophthora sp. fungus and generally affects the root system during the summer months. The symptoms include blackened roots, root loss, and wilting of the stems and leaves on the upper portion of the plant. When this occurs, the plant is no longer capable of absorbing nutrients from the soil and will eventually die. To prevent fungal infection, it is recommended to use pots, soil, and seedlings that are free of the fungus.