The Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium Lamerei) is a plant native to southern Madagascar, but can be grown almost anywhere. It is in the cactus and succulent family of plants. It can be used as an outdoor landscape plant or as an indoor house plant. It is easy to care for and is known for its unusual appearance and fragrant flowers.
The Madagascar Palm has a long spindle-shaped trunk, covered in 2 ½-inch spines. Long leaves form spirally at the top of the trunk. It rarely develops branches. The Madagascar Palm grows from 4 to 6 feet indoors, but will reach heights up to 15 feet outdoors. When planted outdoors, it will develop large white to near-white blossoms from spring to late summer.
The Madagascar Palm will survive in full sun to light shade, but does best in full sun. It should be planted in a cactus mix or any fast-draining potting mix. Water thoroughly, but allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings. Fertilize in summer and spring with a diluted all-purpose fertilizer. Water less during cooler months. The Madagascar Palm is a slow-growing plant and may take many years to reach its full height.
The Madagascar Palm does best in temperate climates. It will usually lose its leaves during a light freeze, but the plant will come back. During a hard freeze, most of the exposed plant will be killed. Just cut back the dead portions and it will usually come back. Madagascar Palms are notorious for losing their leaves in cooler weather or when they do not get enough water; it's not uncommon for people to think their plant has died, only to see it come back to life months later.
Growing from seed has varying rates of success. Seeds can be soaked for 24 hours in warm water and then planted. It can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months for the seeds to sprout. The more common way to propagate is to break off or remove the small growing shoots at the base of the plant. Allow them to dry for about a week. Then plant the shoots in well-draining soil mix in a container or in the ground.
All parts of the Madagascar Palm are poisonous if ingested. If ingested, call a poison control center immediately. When transplanting, the spines should be covered with newspapers or towels to avoid injury to hands.