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How to Grow and Care for an Indoor Majesty Palm

The majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis) is a tropical tree native to Madagascar, where it can grow to almost 30 meters tall in its natural habitat. However, it is becoming increasingly rare in the wild and is now grown primarily as an indoor tree, where the plants reach a height of about 10 feet by limiting their roots. It has long, arching green fronds on several stems. As a houseplant, it resembles a Kentia palm when young and a royal palm when fully grown. That’s high praise, as these are two of the most attractive indoor palms around. However, it is a somewhat difficult plant to grow successfully indoors as it requires moist air, lots of bright indirect light and consistent humidity. Houseplant experts often refer to it as a “demanding” plant.

When grown indoors, the majesty palm will grow about a foot per year until it reaches 4 to 6 feet and then slows down dramatically. As an outdoor plant where the roots can move freely, it grows faster. It is occasionally used as a landscape tree in California, South Florida and other tropical regions.

Majesty palm care
Successfully growing majesty palms requires careful balancing of several factors: heat, light, and fertilization. Plants that are over-fertilized and growing in warm conditions but not provided with enough light will stretch in search of more. Plants that receive too much light without increasing the amount of fertilizer and water will burn. The right balance indoors probably means a bright corner with lots of water and less fertilizer than you probably think.

The majesty palm has a reputation for being a rather temperamental plant. Kentia palm, bamboo palm, or parlor palm plants (Chamaedorea elegans) are generally better choices for beginner indoor growers.

Although majesty palms are understory plants in their natural habitat, it’s a good idea to provide as much light as possible indoors. Plants that are stretching and bleaching should be moved to a brighter location for a few weeks, but not exposed to full sun.​

These palms are acid-loving plants that thrive best with a pH of just 5.0. So don’t worry that a peat-based mixture will acidify and harm your majesty palm. Regular potting soil with some additional peat is an ideal growing medium for majesty palms1. These palms require good drainage to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged.​

Keep the potting medium evenly moist but not soggy. Be careful not to let the plant’s soil become too dry between waterings or you will lose the lower leaves.

Temperature and humidity
This plant grows fairly well in temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers high humidity but can survive in normal household humidity. In colder climates where winter air can become very dry; Running a humidifier can make plants happier. Misting the plant daily will also ensure that it receives the moisture it needs. Low humidity can encourage insect pests.

Fertilize with a weak liquid fertilizer once or twice during the growing season, and not at all in winter. If your indoor palm begins to expand, reduce or stop fertilizing. A fertilizer mixture tailored to cacti is a good choice.

Applying Epsom salt once a month ensures sufficient magnesium and prevents yellowing of the leaves. Plants may also need additional iron to prevent additional yellowing and leaf loss. Follow product label instructions for applying iron.