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Madagascan Palms, as pictured below, can grow substantially large over time if positioned in the correct environment. It's important to allow the specimen to be exposed to a portion of morning or evening sunlight to replicate their natural habitat, as those kept in too shady locations will quickly show signs of stunted growth, soil mould and root rot.
If you have recently bought yours, it can be trained to tolerate harsher levels of sunlight than most houseplants, by gently increasing the number of hours in the sun over the oncoming month. This process is best done from autumn to late winter, whilst the rays are at their weakest. Each week, increase the amount of light by an hour, starting with just an hour of morning sunlight to gain its momentum. The plant will slowly decease the production of chlorophyll, which in turn will reduce the risk of bleaching and sun-scorch. Remember to keep the specimen well hydrated during this period, and always abort the experiment if it shows signs of sun-scorch. The maximum amount of sunlight for this plant is around four hours a day.
The ukhouseplants saying of 'drenches between droughts' strongly applies to this species. Not only will continuous soil moisture ruin their root systems, but it'll also increase the risk of 'heart rot' which essentially will destroy the plant from its centre. Allow all of the soil to thoroughly dry out in between waters in the growing period, reducing this further in the autumn and winter. Under-watering symptoms include a shrivelled stem, yellowing leaves, little to no growth and dry, crispy patches forming on the leaf edges. These issues are usually caused by too much light/heat or forgetfulness. Remember, the brighter the location, the more watering you'll need to do. Over-watering symptoms include a weakened or rotten stem, no new growth, yellowing lower leaves and eventual plant death. The differences between under and over-watering can be very similar, with a rotten root ball or caudex (basal stem) being the obvious difference.
This is not a necessity; however, a quick hose down from time to time will hydrate the leaves and wash away dust or potential pests.
Fertilise every two months during the growing period and every three months in the autumn & winter to replicate its dormancy period. Although a 'Houseplant' fertiliser will still do the job, we'd recommend using a specific 'Cactus' labelled feed as it'll support the vital thirteen nutrients that this species will need to grow.
Root rot is a common issue with specimens sat in too moist or waterlogged soil for long periods. Symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth and a rotten brown caudex. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect health below the soil line. If the roots sport a yellow tinge, you're good to go, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link.
Curled leaves and dried brown edges are the result of too little water and over-exposure to the sun. Although these Palms can naturally do well in sun-filled locations, those that haven't acclimatised to the harsh rays will show signs of sun-scorch and environmental shock. Prolonged exposure will significantly speed the process of dehydration, so consider transplantation into a bigger pot in the spring to wrap the roots around moister soil.
Although gradual leaf loss is accepted as part of maturity, the browning or yellowing of leaves could be a sign of over-watering. Remember to allow all of the soil to dry out in between waters, especially during the height of winter.
Directly pinpointing yellow leaves is rather hard due to the many different issues that could be at fault. Problems include watering-related abuse, too much or too little light, and fertilisation issues. If you'd like to speak to ukhouseplants regarding this issue, don't be afraid to book a 1-to-1 call with Joe Bagley to help guide you through the step-by-step process!
Never allow temperatures to dip below 12ºC (54ºF) as irreversible damage may occur in the likes of yellowed foliage and weakened growth. If this happens, remove the severely affected areas and immediately improve growing conditions - never cut through softened yellow growth, and only around brown, crispy squares. As rehabilitation can take several months because of its slow-growing nature, be sure to provide a stable location with better growing conditions to speed this process.
Mould or mushrooms developing on the soil means two things - too little light and over-watering. Despite the harmlessness, it'll prove unsightly to most gardeners and is therefore removed once known. To remove, replace the top two inches of the soil for a fresh batch of 'Cactus & Succulent' compost. Either increase the amount of light received (no direct sunlight for the first few weeks to prevent environmental shock) or decrease the frequency of waters slightly. If the mould is accompanied by yellowing lower leaves, you may also have a case of root rot.
Pachypodium lamerei is an endemic species to the island of Madagascar. It was first described by Emmanuel Drake del Castillo in 1899, with the name originating from the Ancient Greek words, pachus and podion, referring to the swollen caudex. The species' name, 'lamerei', may be based from a nineteenth-century botanist with the surname 'Lamere'; however, documentation to confirm this, or other factors, is null.
15° - 32℃ (59° - 90℉)
H1a (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors during the spring and summer in a sheltered location whilst nighttime temperatures are above 15℃ (59℉), but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than three hours of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.
The overall size can be up to 1.5m (indoors) in height and 0.5 m in width, with the individual leaf reaching around 4cm. The ultimate height will take around fifteen years to achieve when repotted every few years.
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Via Seed or Stem Cuttings.
Seeds (Easy) - The best soil to use is a 'Cactus & Succulent' labelled potting mix; however, multipurpose compost with added perlite and sand is as good. Set the seeds around 1cm deep (½ inch), resisting the temptation to compact it. Maintain evenly moist soil and allow the excess water to freely drain from the pot's base to prevent water-logged conditions. The ideal location for successful germination is in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures around 25℃ (77℉) with bottom-heat. Keep the pot in a transparent bag to provide a stable environment, along with longer-lasting soil moisture. Germination may take between two to eight weeks to occur, so don't discard any unsuccessful seeds until this threshold has been surpassed. Remove the bag once the seedlings produce their third leaf and split them into their own 5cm (2 inch) pots after another month.
Stem Cuttings (Moderate) - This method is an easy way to duplicate the original plant. Stems that are at least 8cm (3 inches) in height and part of the young growth of an established plant are most likely to root. To avoid making a mess of the serrations, use a clean pair of scissors and cut 8cm down from the stem's end, dipping the wound in water and then into rooting hormone to speed the propagation. Rooting can take in the range of between two to eight weeks, depending on environmental factors and the cutting's quality. We recommend using a 'Cactus & Succulent' labelled potting mix, with a pot that has adequate drainage to avert the risk of blackleg. Provide a bright, warm setting of around 20℃ (66℉) with relatively moist soil, but be sure to allow the top half to dry out in between waters. You'll know if propagation is successful as the leaves will stay green and firm, along with small roots developing from the callous (dried wound). New foliar growth will emerge from the nodes after around twelve weeks, but it may take longer if the conditions aren't optimal. After a month of solid new growth, transplant into a slightly bigger pot and treat it like a mature specimen with the care tips provided above.
Madagascan Palms will rarely flower in a domestic setting due to the unfavourable growing conditions. For the sake of education, their flowers will appear only on mature specimens during the spring or summer months, with an inflorescence vaguely resembling white Jasmine.
Repot every three years in spring using a 'Cactus & Succulent' labelled potting mix and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Madagascan Palms are far better potbound for several years due to the heightened risk of root rot and repotting-issues (like transplant shock) - so only repot if you feel it's wholly necessary.
Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those situated in a darker location, introduce extra amounts of perlite and grit into the lower portion of the new soil to downplay over-watering risks. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.
Book a 1-to-1 video call with Joe Bagley if you'd like a personal guide to repotting your houseplant. This will include recommending the right branded-compost and pot size, followed by a live video call whilst you transplant the specimen for step-by-step guidance and answer any further questions!
Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mites, scale, thrips, whitefly & root mealybugs that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves, with the exception of the latter in soil. Common diseases associated with Madagascan Palms are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, rust, powdery mildew & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.
This plant is classified as poisonous; if parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information. The sap and shape spines can also cause dermatitis and skin allergy to sensitive individuals, so be sure to wear gloves when handling.
Some Cacti stores & Online.
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