Pachypodium lamerei, commonly known as Madagascar Palm, is a succulent plant native to southern Madagascar. Even though this plant has the name "palm", it is not actually a palm tree at all. Madagascar Palms are grown in warmer regions as outdoor landscape plants and in cooler areas as attractive houseplants.
Madagascar Palms are engaging looking plants that will grow up to 6 feet (1.8 m) indoors and up to 15 feet (4.5 m) outdoors. A long spindly trunk is covered with exceptionally thick spines and leaves form at the top of the trunk. This plant very rarely, if ever, develops branches. Aromatic yellow, pink or red flowers develop in the winter. Madagascar Palms are an excellent addition to any sun-filled room.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Madagascar Palms are not difficult to grow as houseplants as long as they receive enough light and are planted in well-draining soil. Be sure to place the plant in a container with drainage holes to avoid root rot.
They require bright light and fairly warm temperatures. Place your Madagascar Palm outdoors during daylight hours whenever the weather is above 70°F (21°C). Madagascar Palms require full sunlight to thrive. When they are not outdoors, keep them near a window with access to as much sunlight as possible.
Give the plant water when the surface soil is dry. Like many other plants, you can water less in the winter. Water just enough to keep the soil from drying out.
Use a diluted houseplant fertilizer at the beginning of spring and the beginning of summer. If Madagascar Palms are happy and healthy, they will grow about 12 inches (30 cm) a year and bloom profusely.
If your palm shows signs of disease or pest infestation, remove the damaged parts. Leaf drop in winter is perfectly normal. Madagascar Palm may even drop all its leaves. But, don't worry. It'll grow more leaves in spring when it gets the sunshine and warmth it loves. When it comes out of dormancy and you see new leaves growing, that's your cue to resume normal watering and fertilizing.
Repot in spring every 3 to 4 years or when it outgrows its pot. It's a good idea to use a heavy container to prevent toppling. This thick-trunked tree can get top-heavy. Also, be careful of those spines when handling this plant. Wear thick garden gloves and wrap a newspaper or old towel around the trunk when repotting it to protect your hands.
Madagascar Palm can be grown through seeds, but it's a long process. The seeds need to be soaked at least for 24 hours in warm water before planting them. It requires at least 3 weeks to 6 months to sprout. The best way to grow them is, to break off small shoots from the base and dry them for a week, then, plant them in a mix soil setting, indoors or outdoors.
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