Generally small, slow-growing, feather-type palms from the rain forests of Mexico and Central and South America. Some have single trunks, others clustered trunks; leaves are variable in shape. Perfect for a large container on a shaded patio. If growing indoors, feed monthly during growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer; cut back on fertilizer and water in winter.
C. cataractarum. CAT PALM, CASCADE PALM. Forms a dense clump to 6 ft. tall, 9 ft. wide. Dark green, arching, feathery leaves to 3 ft. or longer. Does best in a moist, partially shaded location with protection from drying winds. Good as informal hedge, screen, border, or understory plant. Hardy to 24F.
C. costaricana. If well fed and liberally watered, develops fairly quickly into bamboolike clumps 810 ft. tall and wide. Lacy, feathery leaves 34 ft. long. Good potted palm.
C. elegans. PARLOR PALM. The best indoor chamaedorea, tolerating crowded roots, poor light. Single stemmed; grows very slowly to an eventual 34 ft. tall and nearly as wide. Feathery, lush green leaves to 2 ft. long. Douse the tops of potted plants with water occasionally. Groom by removing old leafstalks. Repot every 2 or 3 years, carefully washing off old soil and replacing it with good potting mix. Plant three or more in a container for most effective display.
C. metallica. METALLIC PALM. To 3 ft. tall and about half as wide. Single stem is topped by erect, broadly oval leaves in the shape of a fishtail. Foliage has a distinctive blue-green sheen. Purple or orange flowers are followed by small black fruits. Excellent in pots.
C. microspadix. HARDY BAMBOO PALM. LS (protected), CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Rather open clumps of slender, upright stems can reach 10 ft. tall. Arching blue-green leaves give plants a feathery look. Tough and adaptable; hardy to 18F.
C. radicalis. LS (protected), CS, TS; USDA 8-11. This dwarf palm grows just 34 ft. tall, and its sprawling, open form makes it a natural choice for planting in groups as a tall ground cover. Takes many years to form a discernible trunk. Best in rich, moist soil. Although it's one of the hardiest in the genus, surviving 10F with only leaf damage, it benefits from overhead protection in the Lower South.
C. seifrizii (C. erumpens). BAMBOO PALM. To 414 ft. tall, 36 ft. wide. Produces a clump of slender, bright green, bamboolike canes bearing deep green leaves. New stems keep forming at the base of the plant, so it never looks sparse. Handsome, fine-textured accent for indoors or out.
C. tenella (C. geonomiformis). Single-trunked palm to 34 ft. tall and wide. Dark bluish green leaves to 8 in. long, 23 in. wide have a distinctive look: they are undivided except for a deep cleft at the tip.
C. tepejilote. PACAYA PALM. Single trunk ringed with swollen joints like those of bamboo. Moderate growth to 10 ft. or taller and about 8 ft. wide. Velvety green, feathery leaves reach 4 ft. long. Hardy to 28F.