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How to Care for a Madagascar Palm

The Madagascar palm is not really a palm at all. It's a succulent that got its name because it resembles a small, if quirky, palm tree. Its trunk is long and thick like a palm tree's but is covered in 2.5-inch spines. And although not fronds, the Madagascar palm's leaves are situated in a spiral at the top of the trunk, like a palm tree.The Madagascar palm is a hot-weather plant that can be successfully grown outdoors only in USDA zones 9 to 11. But this small, slow-growing tree grows quite happily indoors.

Water your Madagascar palm tree sparingly. Only water it when the top third or so of the soil has dried out, then water the plant until the soil is moist. In winter, when the Madagascar palm sheds its leaves and goes dormant, stop watering it altogether until spring.

Fertilize your Madagascar palm once in the spring if you want to encourage it to grow quickly. Use a balanced liquid commercial fertilizer. Look at the package directions for application amounts and divide that amount by half.

Place your Madagascar palm outdoors during daylight hours whenever the weather is above 70 degrees F. Madagascar palms require full sunlight to thrive. When they are not outdoors, keep them near a window with access to as much sunlight as possible.

Re-pot Madagascar palms once every three years or whenever they outgrow their current containers. Replace the soil each time you re-pot the palm. The best soil to use is a commercial cactus mix.

Tip

Put Madagascar palms in heavy pots, or else these top-heavy plants may topple over.

Warning

Every part of the Madagascar plant is poisonous if ingested.

When handling the Madagascar palm, avoid being pricked by its spines. Wear heavy work gloves or wrap the trunk in several layers of newspaper.

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