This Ubiquitous Palm Is One of the Very *Worst* Indoor Plants—Here’s Why and What To Buy Instead

Photo: Stocksy / Mauro Grigollo
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Plants are like people: Some are easygoing like a snake plant while others tend to be a little more dramatic (looking at you, fiddle leaf fig). There's nothing wrong with greenery having high standards (and very specific needs when it comes to light, water, and humidity), but there's also nothing wrong with you wanting some laid-back foliage to add to your home. And I'm sad to report that if a palm is on your low-maintenance wish list, the majesty palm (a popular option usually sold for a reasonable price at your local big box plant store) just ain't it. The best indoor palm plants aren't nearly as high-maintenance.

Experts In This Article

Why you shouldn't bother with majesty palms

Majesty palms have earned themselves a difficult reputation on TikTok and beyond. While they're undoubtedly gorgeous, they tend to do this thing where they perish right when you're getting attached, so we asked Bryana Sortino, co-founder and COO of Horti—a plant subscription service—why majesty palms are such heartbreakers.

"Most indoor palm plants typically require a lot of sunlight and humidity, but are often touted and sold as medium to low light by many plant stores," says Sortino. "To thrive indoors, majesty palms need six to eight hours of bright light per day and the soil should never dry out completely." And thus, if you're living in a little apartment with only a handful of windows and/or your locale only gets a few hours of bright sunlight per day, your majesty palm is bound to die in protest.

According to Sortino, this learning lesson is part and parcel of one of the golden rules of plant care: "One of the most important rules in caring for indoor plants is to try and understand, and then replicate, their natural habitats," she explains. "In this case, a beautiful Madagascar oceanside."

The best indoor palm plants to buy

Luckily, there are plenty of indoor palm plants to buy that won't cause emotional turmoil. "Cat palm, Areca palm, Parlor palm, and Bamboo palm are all great choices," says Sortino. "They are all palms and require similar care to majesty, but can truly handle indirect bright light—just avoid direct sun."

The Best Palm Houseplants

Ponytail palm — $24.00

“Ponytail palm—not a palm, but in fact a succulent—needs full sun and is drought-tolerant,” says Sortino. “These creatures are super low maintenance and as long as they’re getting enough sun.” The description of this plant notes that this palm loves a very, very bright room—so make sure your home is up to the task before you order.

Dracaena Marginata Open Weave — $199.00

This low-light beauty is four to five feet tall and notorious for its air-filtering qualities. Since it’s a little heavy, Bloomscape sells a little saucer on wheels so you can roll it around your home effortlessly until you find that right spot.

Neanthe Bella Palm — $14.00

Put this plant in indirect sunlight, and it will grow and grow and grow. Make sure to let the top two inches of soil fully dry out before watering this baby.

Areca palm — $42.00

This Feng Shui-friendly plant is said to foster unity in a household. It prefers indirect sunlight (but not too much) and waterings when the soil has dried out completely.

Cat Palm — $45.00

Native to southeastern Mexico, the cat palm is a laid-back plant that will thrive in a bright room. Like the Dracaena Marginata, the cat palm is great for boosting air quality.

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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