Majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis) is a slow-growing palm with long arching green fronds atop multiple stems. It is is usually grown as a large houseplant, though it can reach heights of up to 90 feet in its native outdoor environment. As a houseplant, it is said to resemble a kentia palm when young and a royal palm when mature. This is high praise, since these are two of the more attractive of all indoor palms.
However, majesty palm has a reputation for being somewhat temperamental and difficult to grow, and it's best for people who want the experience of growing an unusual palm species and are willing to put forth the effort. For others, kentia palm, bamboo palm, or parlor palm are generally better choices. When grown indoors, majesty palm is a slow-growing plant, adding no more than 1 foot per year until it reaches about 10 feet in height.
Majesty palm has a very limited natural range, found in isolated humid pockets of swampy land in the otherwise arid climate of Madagascar. It was introduced as a houseplant in Florida about 1990 and its popularity is gradually widening, though no cultivars have yet been developed. There are very few outdoor locations outside Madagascar where this tree can be successfully grown.
|Botanical Name||Ravenea revularis|
|Common Names||Majesty palm, majestic palm, Revena palm|
|Plant Type||Palm tree|
|Mature Size||10 feet when grown indoors|
|Sun Exposure||Daylong bright, indirect light|
|Soil Type||Potting mix for cactus, with extra peat mixed in|
|Soil pH||5.0 to 6.0 (acidic)|
|Hardiness Zones||10 to 11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Moist, humid spots in Madagascar|
How to Grow Majesty Palm
Successfully growing majesty palms requires carefully balancing several factors: heat, light, and fertilization. Plants that are over-fertilized and grown in warm conditions, but not given enough light, will stretch out. Plants that are given too much light without a corresponding increase in fertilizer and water will scorch. The right balance inside likely means a bright corner, with plenty of water, and probably less fertilizer than you think.
It's also a good idea to supplement with Epsom salts to provide adequate magnesium. The lack of magnesium generally shows up as leaf yellowing. Plants might also require supplemental iron to prevent additional yellowing and leaf loss. Finally, these are acid-loving palms that do best with a pH level as low as 5.0, so don't worry about a peat-based mixture acidifying and hurting your majesty palm.
Although majesty palms are understory plants in their natural habitat, indoors it's a good idea to provide as much light as possible. Plants that are stretching and bleached should be moved into a brighter spot for a few weeks, but don't expose them to full sunlight.
A potting mix designed for cactus or succulents, with some extra peat mixed in, is an ideal growing medium for majesty palms. These palms need good drainage to prevent water-logged roots.
Keep the potting media evenly moist, but not waterlogged. Don't let them get too dry between waterings or you'll start to lose lower leaves. If leaves are beginning to turn brown at the tips, the plant is probably not getting enough water. Leaves that turn yellow may indicate the plant is getting too much moisture.
Temperature and Humidity
This plant will grow fairly well in temperatures between 45 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They prefer high humidity but will survive in ordinary household humidity levels. But they may get too dry in cold climates where winter air can get very dry; here, running a humidifier can make the plants happier. Misting the plant daily will also ensure it gets the humidity it craves. Low humidity levels can encourage insect pests.
Feed with a weak liquid fertilizer once or twice during the growing season and not at all during the winter. If your indoor plant starts to stretch out, then reduce or stop fertilizing. A fertilizer mix designed for cactus is a good choice. Applying Epsom salts once a month will supply adequate magnesium and prevent yellowing of the leaves.
Potting and Repotting
These are fast-growing palm trees, so a plant may need to be repotted annually. When repotting, be careful not to damage the root ball and use a large and heavy enough container to prevent the palm tree from tipping over.
Propagating Majesty Palm
Majesty palms are raised exclusively from seed, and thus far commercial production is comparatively limited. It's highly unlikely that home growers can get access to seeds. If, however, your plant flowers and produces seed, harvest and plant the seeds quickly in a shallow container. Germination is rapid for palm tree seeds.
Pruning duties are generally limited to simply removing any fronds that have turned brown or yellow. This is all that's needed to keep the plant looking good.
Common Pests/ Diseases
Majesty palms are vulnerable to pests including mites, aphids, mealy bugs, scale, and whitefly. If possible, identify the infestation as early as possible and treat it with the least toxic option. Low humidity levels make this plant especially susceptible to spider mites and mealybugs.
Haq, Imran Ul, and Siddra Ijaz. Etiology and Integrated Management of Economically Important Fungal Diseases of Ornamental Palms. Springer International Publishing, 2020
Dewees, Jason, and Caitlin Atkinson. Designing with Palms. Timber Press, 2018
Howard, F. W. Insects on Palms. CABI Pub., 2017