If you are interested in keeping a houseplant that is easy to grow, Pachypodium lamerei is the one to choose. Also known as Madagascar Palm or Madagascar cactus plant, the plant indeed comes from Madagascar, but it is not a palm at all.
It actually has a closer connection with cacti or succulents. Its succulent characteristics make the plant easy to grow in warm to hot environment, as long as the maintenance is well suited.
Pachypodium lamerei has a grey, palm-like trunk with sharp thorns around it. The long and narrow leaves grow on top of the trunk with flowers at the crown.
Depending on how you treat it, the plant can grow variously from up to 1.8 when planted indoors and up to 6 meters when planted outdoors. Its white flowers are fragrant, though an indoor-grown Pachypodium rarely has it.
A. Varieties of Pachypodium Lamerei
Coming from Apocynaceae family, Pachypodium lamerei is a flowering tree that is inedible and poisonous at most. If you do have a curious pet like cat or dog, beware that they may touch the plants’ thorns and get hurt.
You may also want to keep the children away from the spine and milky sap that makes the Madagascar palm poisonous.
Pachypodium lamerei is the only species of the plant in its genus that is kept as a houseplant. However, a newer species specified as ramosum is already acknowledged as a shorter version of the Pachypodium lamerei.
Another well-known Pachypodiun is the Pachypodium geayi which is actually taller, has smaller and branching trunks.
B. Growing and Taking Care of Pachypodium Lamerei
Pachypodium survives in its natural habitat by absorbing water from rains that are rather a seldom occasion in Madagascar.
Its thorns have a specific function of keeping water so that it can survive in dry season. In growing Pachypodium lamerei, pay attention to these three aspects:
Pachypodium needs much contact with light. In its natural habitat, it grows under full sun light. As much as possible, direct sun light is needed to keep the plant healthy.
If you are putting it inside the house, you would want to make sure that the sun light reaches the plant without any artificial shade.
The plant can grow in a very high temperature just like how it is in Madagascar in summer. Consequently, you may need to pay attention to the minimum temperature in the environment of the plant.
Pachypodium lamerei may not strive well in a temperature lower than 15˚ C. In a considerably low temperature, you have to make sure that the soil is dry enough to keep the plant healthy.
Since Pachypodium has a long growing phase, the plant needs abundant of water in growing. Its natural habitat has shaped the plant to be able to store as much water as possible when it rains.
Very much like cacti and succulents, Pachypodium lamerei reserves water. You may give it some times before you start watering the plant again but make sure that the soil has not gone completely dry when you do.
C. Growing It Indoor
Some people choose to plant the Pachypodium lamerei due to its unique appearance. It also has a rather easy care for an indoor plant. It strives well in hot, warm, and slightly chill weather.
However, it can grow up to 1.8 meters indoor, so you may want to consider the space before choosing the plant. Here are some tips that may be useful before you start growing your own Pachypodium lamerei:
1. Use a Clay Pot
Pachypodium lamerei can grow big and tall, it also needs plenty of soil to help them reserve water. Therefore, you need to use a clay pot instead of a plastic one. The clay pot holds the plant better and keeps it from falling to the ground.
2. Give it the Perfect Spot
The perfect spot means that the plant could receive enough sunlight. Though the plant does not necessarily do regular photosynthesis, the sun light keeps them stay healthy and closer to the climate in its natural habitat.
3. Not Too Easy to Propagate
Though the plant has an easy care, you may have to learn more if you want to do Pachypodium lamerei propagation. It is a slow-growing plant, so the seed can only be seen after several years, when the plant has matured.
The seed would look like a cucumber and you can carefully place it onto another pot and grow some more.
4. It Does Not Need Extra Feeding
Pachypodium lamerei does not need a regular feeding. That is why many planters or enthusiasts consider the plant to be an easy one to grow.
Sure, if you want to give it extra nutrition, a water-diluted organic fertilizer with medium strength can help the plant to grow in spring and summer. Apart from that, all you need to take care of is the watering frequency and sun light exposure.
D. Disease, Pests, Fungi, and Other Problems
The three aspects to take care of in Pachypodium lamerei care is the light, temperature, and water. Your plant may face different problems due to the mistreating of those aspects.
For example, overwatering the Pachypodium lamerei may make the soil soggy, the trunk would seems lean and soft, the leaves would grow too big and susceptible to diseases.
The problem would also occur when you wait for too long before you water the plant. The soil would be dry and the Pachypodium would not have any water left to reserve. Eventually, the plant would turn brown and may die.
Apart from the maintenance aspects, Pachypodium lamerei is actually very resistant to any kind of pests and diseases. To prevent it, the plant need to be inspected every once in a while.
You may find beetles hiding under its narrow leaves. Still, they can be removed easily by spraying water. The poison that is on the milky sap inside the plant’s trunk, thorns, and leaves already work as a prevention to any kind of insects and pests.
The right consistency of watering, sunlight, and temperature maintenance are the key to a successful Pachypodium lamerei planting. Whether you are growing it outdoors or indoors, those three things matter the most in keeping the plant growing healthily.