Care for a Majestic Palm Plant

Ravenea rivularis, also known as the majestic palm.
Ravenea rivularis, also known as the majestic palm.

Majestic or majesty palms, known botanically as Ravenea rivularis, are a family of tropical evergreen trees that grow up to 40 feet in height at maturity, and are native to the island of Madagascar. There are roughly a dozen varietals of Ravenea, all of which are tender perennials that are hardy in USDA zones 9b through 11 and thrive in full sun to full shade exposures. Majesty palms have a pale gray to taupe colored trunk that is crenelated in horizontal bands around the perimeter. Large, green fronds grow vertically from the trunk.

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Soil & Planting Requirements

Majesty palms prefer a soil that is well-draining but has enough organic matter to hold some moisture in reserve. They also prefer a mildly acidic to neutral soil pH in the range of 6.1 to 7.5 pH. If your soil is not a well-draining variety, such as clay soils, amend it with sharp sand and peat moss; these materials will not only add drainage capacity, but also adjust the soil pH to be slightly more acidic.

Impact of Sun Exposure

Majesty palms will grow well in both shade and in sun. However, when they are grown in full sun, their deep green color lightens considerably and the tips of the fronds may scorch a bit. This in not a sign of illness, but a side effect of the exposure. When grown in shade or partial shade conditions, such as morning sun and afternoon shade, they hold their green color much better and frond scorching or yellowing is more rare.

Water & Fertilizing Requirements

Majesty palms require consistently moist soil so that the deep roots are always kept moist to wet, and are never allowed to dry out between waterings. Its island roots and semi-aquatic nature make watering key to the palm's success as a potted or ground-planted specimen tree. Majesty palms are not heavy feeders, but they can benefit from a once yearly application of a slow-release palm fertilizer during the growing season, applied around the root ball out to the drip line. Annual feeding may also help with the foliage fade issue when planted in full sun locales.


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