Ultimate Guide: How to Care for Madagascar Palm

Madagascar palm is one of the most popular houseplants to grow indoors. These plants prefer bright indirect light for the majority of the year. Give them plenty of bright light in winter, but reduce it during hot summer months to avoid leaf scorching.

Native to Southern parts of Madagascar, the Madagascar palm is a member of the succulent family and not a “palm” tree as its name suggests. Madagascar palm is adapted to surviving in relatively warmer areas as an outdoor plant and cooler regions as an indoor plant. It grows to about six feet indoors and up to 16 feet outdoors. Its trunk is covered with thick spines that appear as shiny thorns. Madagascar palm is a low-maintenance succulent that can be an incredible addition to your home.

So, how do you care for Madagascar palm? To keep your Madagascar palm happy, have it on the dry side and only water it when the potting mix is completely dry. Like other succulents, you need to ensure the soil you use is highly porous and well-draining. For fertilizer, only feed your plant with a balanced houseplant fertilizer at the beginning of spring or summer. If possible, grow your plant in full light and relatively warm temperatures to achieve the best results. For indoor plants, position them on a west or south-facing window.

Are you planning to add Madagascar palm to your plant collection? If so, read on to find out what you need to do to keep your plant healthy and happy.

Basic Facts about the Madagascar Palm

The scientific name of Madagascar palm is Pancypodium lamerei, and it belongs to the Apocynaceae family. The succulent has a very distinct appearance, with its trunk filled with spines. It can grow to a height of up to 16 feet and 2 feet wide when provided with the right growing conditions.

When the time comes, this succulent tree will bloom throughout summer, putting on a spectacular show. Its flowers are usually white and quite large.

If you are growing the succulent indoors, position it near a west or south-facing window where it can get maximum light exposure. However, you need to remember that the plant can become tall with time. So, ensure you provide it with enough space to develop correctly. 

Madagascar Palm white flower.
Its flowers are usually white and quite large.

When planting them outdoors, it is recommended to plant them in a group but ensure they are well spaced. You should also ensure you plant them in areas far away from children since they are poisonous. Ensure no other high-maintenance plants are growing next to the Madagascar palm.

How to Care for the Madagascar Palm

Now that you have some background information about the Madagascar palm, let us highlight some things you need to do as part of the daily routine care to keep your plant happy.

1. Watering Needs

The Madagascar palm doesn’t require frequent watering because it is adapted to surviving in a relatively warmer climate. The plant is highly resistant to climatic changes and harsh weather conditions. In fact, they love the heat.

If you live in an area that experiences extreme winters, you don’t need to water your plant as often during the cold months; otherwise, you will cause root rot which is more dangerous than underwatering.

Full grown, Madagascar palm.
It grows to about six feet indoors and up to 16 feet outdoors.

Before watering a Madagascar palm, ensure the potting mix is completely dry. So, it is crucial to ensure you have a well-draining potting mix that allows water to drain out of the growing pot without damaging the plant roots.

Water your plant thoroughly during the hot summer months but stop watering completely when the leaves fall off.  When leaves fall, it means that the plant has enough water storage in its stem, and it is only looking for a way of minimizing water loss through transpiration.

In fact, one of the biggest threats to the overall health of your Madagascar palm is overwatering because it may result in root rot. It is easy to think that your plant requires watering when its trunk still contains plenty of it.

One of the physical signs of overwatering is breakage. If a long spindly trunk of your plant suddenly snaps in half and tips over, it could be a sign of overwatering. This may also happen if you keep your plant in a spot with too much cold and not enough light.

2. Growing Location

Since the Madagascar palm is a sun-loving plant, it can take the full sun without any issues. The succulent is highly drought-resistant and ideal for xeriscaping in warm climates. So, if you are growing it indoors, choose a spot that receives plenty of bright light (whether natural or artificial).

Small Madagascar Palm plant.
It can take the full sun without any issues.

If you are growing it outdoors, ensure it is far away from tall plants that may provide unnecessary shade. Keep your plant slightly moist so that it doesn’t shed its leaves. The succulent will only shed its leaves when it is too dry. Make use of a humidity tray to keep the humidity levels high.Humidity trays are shallow trays filled with small stones and water at the bottom. Ensure the water in the tray doesn’t reach the bottom of the bonsai pot. As the water evaporates, it creates a relatively moist environment that keeps your plant moist.

3. Soil Requirements

The succulent can adapt relatively well in porous soils with good soil-drainage properties. It can grow in the conventional sandy soil of old dunes near the ocean or sea, in schist, limestone, and so on.  For better results, plant it in cactus compost but maintain a mildly acidic to a mildly alkaline pH of between 6.0 and 7.7.    

For potting, go for clay pots with plenty of drainage holes over plastic pots to keep the succulent on the dry side. The pot size should be slightly larger than the root ball of your Madagascar palm. 

4. Temperature and Light Requirements

Madagascar palm is a sun-loving succulent. So, it prefers a relatively warmer and bright-lit location. When positioning your plant indoors, place it on a west or south-facing window where it can receive lots of full sunlight.

If you live in an area that doesn’t receive plenty of natural sunlight, consider using artificial grow lights to keep your plant happy. If you are using artificial grow lights, keep them on for at least 16 hours a day and let the plant rest in total darkness for the remaining eight hours.

Plant Exposed to a sunlight.
It prefers a relatively warmer and bright-lit location.

Indoor Madagascar palm plants should also be kept near a heating vent or register to ensure it stays warm during the cold winter months. During winter, make sure the temperature doesn’t fall below 55oF.

If you maintain relatively warm temperatures and keep your plant moist, it will never shade its leaves.  The leaves add beauty and serenity to your indoor spaces.

5. Fertilizer

Feed your Madagascar palm with a general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer at the beginning of spring. The fertilizer must be diluted to half-strength. You can also use low nitrogen liquid fertilizer but you will be forced to feed your plant every four to five weeks.

Whether you are growing your plants indoors or outdoors, don’t fertilize it in winter or fall because it is a period of dormancy and doesn’t require nutrients. You should only start watering and feeding it when you spot new growth.

With proper watering and fertilization, a Madagascar palm succulent will grow approximately 12 inches per year.

6. Disease and Pest Control

Extremely cold weather can affect a Madagascar palm quite significantly. Your plant may rot and put on a soft, mushy, and withered appearance. If you notice such signs, remove the damaged part and let your plant rest easy.

This succulent is also prone to mealybug infestation. These insects feed on the leaves of the plant. When you notice appearance of black spots on the leaves, it could be a sign of mealybug infestation.

Mealybug on the leaf.
These insects feed on the leaves of the plant.

To deal with the infestation, simply pull off the affected leaves and you are good to go. In some cases, there might be an infestation of white fly larvae or mites that attach themselves at the base of the plant. This can easily be cleared out with insecticides and fungicides in the form of systemic poisons, soapy rinses, and gentle sprays.

7. Pruning

Pruning is not an essential task for a Madagascar palm. The plant will shed its leaves naturally to preserve the absorbed water. Shedding of leaves mostly happens during the hot summer months, but you can stop it by keeping your plant moist.

While the plant typically grows on a single trunk, sometimes it will branch out after blooming or if the main stem is injured.

To maintain a relatively small size plant or induce branching, consider pruning the tree with a lot of care. Snap portions of its top with a sterile knife or pair of scissors to prevent infection. Monitor it closely after pruning to see if it shows any signs of infection for you to act quickly.

Summary

The Madagascar palm is one of the best succulents to have at home. The plant does well both indoors and outdoors. It can be placed around other succulents growing in full sunlight, and it will still thrive with minimal care.

The most important thing you need to do is ensure you provide your plant with the right conditions for it to stay healthy and happy. So, if you have decided to add the Madagascar palm to your plant collection, your time is now!

Last update on 2022-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

read this next

Succulent plants are well known for their drought tolerance and water conservation. The roots of a succulent plant store water, giving it an advantage in periods of drought, low rainfall or slow growth. Understanding how you should care for them determines when and how often you have to water.
Bunny Ears Cactus is a very unique plant that has many interesting ways to grow and develop. It is one of the most popular types of cactus mainly because of its unusual growth patterns. Often do people buy a Cactus and wonder how to grow it properly? Here is the complete guide
The Christmas cactus is an evergreen flowering plant that produces the most spectacular flowers of the fall and winter months. However, propagation can be difficult because of the limited conditions required by the plant to survive. Follow these straightforward instructions to create a new Christmas cactus for your home.
The jade plant is one of the most popular houseplants beloved for its evergreen nature and shade of green. It can survive in low light, little water, infrequent repotting, and still stay beautiful! Here are 6 amazing facts you didn’t know about this amazing plant.
Sansevieria houseplants are beautiful additions to the home or office. Both easy to grow and low-maintenance, these plants can bring an exotic look to your space with minimal effort on your part. Make sure you follow these golden rules for watering Sansevieria plants .
There are over 1,500 cacti species that come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. The average lifespan of these plants varies greatly from one species to the other. Species such as the Saguaro can live for up to 200 years while jungle cacti species such as Christmas cactus have an average lifespan of between 20 to 30 years
Propagation is the process of producing clones. No matter what you’re propagating, whether it is a baby chick, or a cutting taken from a larger plant, you need to make sure that your cutting contains the genetic information required to grow new roots and stalks.
Cactus are unique plants, but what makes them so special? While some have been documented to live for hundreds of years, others have become an awe thanks to their bizarre growth patterns, unique shapes and unmatched resistance to harsh conditions.
Cacti are among the most popular house plants due to their undemanding nature and lack of light preferences. These topped our list of best small cactus species for your indoors, which you can keep as a table or desk plant.
You’ve nurtured your cactus in its container for weeks–but why does it show no signs of life? It’s time to refresh yourself on the basic facts about how to get your cactus blossoms. Your job is like that of a detective, only the clues are hidden underground. You must know when and how to intervene if your cactus isn’t actively growing.
A cactus garden is a unique way to give more character to your backyard. They’re not only easy to grow but they’re fun and rewarding. Whether you want to add some color, texture or privacy to the space, there’s a cactus for that! Keep in mind that cacti are easily adaptable and can withstand dry conditions, heat and neglect.
Shedding seeds, tough skin and spines, these 10 large cactus can be surprisingly beautiful even though they might look intimidating. You’ll want to keep an eye out for these large cactuses and add them into your garden if you love interesting plants!
Simply by following the tips and tricks in this article, you will be on the verge of growing a beautiful mammillaria cactus, you’ll also be one step closer to becoming an expert!
You would like to purchase a plant, but they can be too expensive. You’ve heard of people propagating their own plants, or growing their own from cuttings or even seeds, but they sound hard. It’s true that propagating can take time and patience, but it’s not difficult.
Agave is a succulent plant. There are hundreds of species, with some looking like aloe, others growing wide and leafy, and still others that have little to no foliage at all. Before you attempt to propagate agave, it’s best to understand the different ways plants can be propagated.

Receive the latest news

Get Our Cacti Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest facts, tips, advice, and more!

Your privacy is important to us.