Madagascar palm: characteristics and cultivation

We started well. He is known as madagascar palm treebut certainly it is not classified as a palm. Of course, what we can attest to is that it originated in Madagascar, where the main populations of this “false palm” are found.

However, in a world as globalized as this, today we can find this species distributed in all warm areas, where it has gained popularity as an ornamental tree due to its ease of growth and propagation.

In this article we will present the main characteristics of the Madagascar palm tree (Pachypodium lamerei)as well as some advice for your culturewhether they are located in our garden or even pot grown inside our house.

Characteristics of the Madagascar palm

When we physically see the Madagascar palm, especially from a considerable distance, the first thing we may think is that it is a “special type of palm”.

However, as soon as we get closer to this species we find that the leaves have nothing to do with the traditional look of the palm tree.

Smooth, fine and elongated leaves, of intense dark green color and with a central vein. As if it were an olive leaf, but with much larger dimensions. They are 40cm long and are located in its upper part, leaving the trunk free.

An adult specimen of a palm from Madagascar (Pachuypodium lamerei) achieved more than 8 meters highwith a thick, spiny trunk, which in adult species exceeds 80 centimeters in diameter.

Another remarkable feature of the Madagascar palm is its flowering, producing large flowers (8-10 cm in diameter) and white, very atypical and different from those of a palm tree and closer to those of many herbaceous ornamental flowers.

There is no fixed flowering period, especially in the tropical zones where it is native (Madagascar), with more or less constant temperatures throughout the year. In case you grow it at home, it is likely that the flowering occurs in spring.

taxonomy

Order Gentianales
Family Apocynaceae
Genre Pachypodium
Species Pachypodium lamerei
Palm specimen from MadagascarPhotography: Lidine Mia

Madagascar Palm Growing Tips

Temperature, humidity and lighting

The Madagascar palm needs warm temperatures throughout the year. Good ventilation and continuous exposure to light, even direct sunlight.

In general, temperatures above 15ºC throughout its development stage will allow it to grow in optimal conditions.

Regarding humidity, it likes a strong presence of water in the environment, with a relative humidity above 70%, although it is not a vital condition for its survival.

If you grow Madagascar palm in house interiorvery important that it be in a very well lit place, near a window.

Substrate selection

The substrate for this plant should behave similarly to that of succulents and cacti, but with a little more fertilizer input.

you can use like universal substrate base, but it is advisable to provide a component that improves the oxygenation and transpiration of the environment, such as coconut fiber, perlite or vermiculite, for example. A 50%-50% or 60%-40% mixture is more than enough to have a magnificent substrate for your Madagascar palm.

This will excess moisture is reduced and the roots are well oxygenated.

How to Water the Madagascar Palm

As for irrigation, it requires higher humidity than true palms and even succulents. The key is to keep the substrate slightly moist. A slight feeling of humidity when inserting the finger, but without residue adhering to it.

A periodicity can be to water twice a week in the hot season, once a week if it is grown in a pot.

Multiplication

The Madagascar palm lends itself very well to propagation. This can be done by cuttings, in young plants, or by seeds, after flowering.

With the cutting we will obtain a plant identical to the source of production (mother plant), and with the seeds, there may be differences due to genetic variability.

In this video they explain with good clarity the operation of transplanting and cuttings of this plant:

Plagues and diseases

The usual pests of the Madagascar palm are the related to scale insectsbeing able to find in our plant those with cottony body and those with carapace.

They are eliminated by applying potassium soap and rubbing the leaves well until they are completely eliminated.

In terms of diseases, it is a fairly resistant plant, but it can suffer neck fungus under conditions of waterlogged substrates and with very little oxygenation. In this case, visual symptoms appear such as general decay of the plant, chlorosis of the leaves and the base of the stem with a soft and rotten appearance.

It’s not an easy problem to solve, but if we act quickly, we can eliminate the problem. We will remove the substrate and dry the roots well by spraying the entire base of the stem with copper.

Cover photo: Tangopaso.

If you like palm trees (although this one is not)…

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