Can I stop my Madagascar Palm from Going Dormant?

chasermartinJuly 13, 2009

Hello everyone,

I bought a Madagascar Palm a few weeks ago and it's only about 10 inches tall in a 10" diameter square pot, with smaller succulents or cacti located in three of the other corners. I put a combination of sandy/rocky/potting soil in the pot.

I made the mistake of thinking that indirect light in my breakfast room would suffice but it started loosing leaves so I put it outside where it gets a lot of diffused and a good bit of direct sunlight almost all day. I am careful to only water it every couple of days and only then a sprinkle, but I have noticed that it continues to slowly drop leaves (turning yellow then brown) and I'm starting to panic. From earlier posts I would presume that unfortunately it was tricked into going dormant by being placed inside, but that was only for a few weeks. And it's only mid-July and here in Texas we've got several more months of hot weather!!

So here are my questions: Is there nothing I can do to keep it from continuing to loose leaves? And if it does in fact loose them all, should I take it in for the winter months until next spring or should I leave it out all summer? My second question is, I had planned on moving it inside to that same breakfast room spot for the winter months (where actually it WILL get a few hours of direct sun during those months). Is this a good location for wintering? Should I treat it differently during the winter if all its leaves fall off now mid-summer???

Thanks for your advice everyone...


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Hello chasermartin, I'm no expert on dormant plants and all the technical plant rules, but I do have quiete a few Pachy's. I didn't think they would go dormant, but I guess they do. My pachy's are left in the sun all the time and putting out new growth at a rate of about 1-1 1/2" a month(they are still babies except for three of them.)

The nursery were I bought them from had them in shade and the leaves looked pretty bad and minimal growth. As soon as I brouth them to my home, within a few days they rebounded with new leaves and growth( was a lot of new growth within the first week.)

What I'm trying to get to you is that a lot of sun even HOT!!! sun has done my pachy's good. Only thing I worry about is when it rains then clears up and sun hits my pachy's. Now that's damage!!!!

Hope this helps, also I water mine almost every day or when dirt is dry.

Thanks, Abel....good luck

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 3:31AM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)


Did I read your post correctly in that you only sprinkle your plant and are not watering it thoroughly to the point water runs out of the bottom of the pot? If so, I would go dormant before dying too.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 6:33AM
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Pretend your "Madagascar Palm" a.k.a. Pachypodium lamerei is a sun-loving Coleus. They thrive in warmth, humidity, sun and frequent watering in a porous soil mix.

The only time you should withhold on water is when you cannot provide enough heat and/ or sun. This is typically during the winter, when light levels are low and not conducive to good growth.

Repot the other succulents around your Pachy because chances are they will not tolerate the same conditions.

If the leaves are yellowing and dropping due to drought, then new leaves will quickly form once the plant is out in the heat and sun, and watered properly.

Hopefully the leaves are not dropping because the plant is rotting.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 8:14AM
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This is the most common mistake people make with watering succulents: they only give a little each time. Succulents love water, just not all the time. So make sure your soil is very porous, and water when dry, not on any set schedule. If the plant starts taking longer to suck a pot dry, then wait longer in between watering (drenching). Pachypodium lamerei can be treated almost like a tropical plant in the growing seasons. Let it be dry in the Winter, and it will shed its leaves and go dormant.

Move it outside to a spot that is full sun during part of the day, and in bright shade the rest of the time. Start in a spot getting mostly shade, and move the plant to sunnier locations gradually. If it is already in full sun, start drenching now, and hopefully it will return to normal growth. If the leaf drop is due to a fungal infection (rot), the plant is doomed without major surgery.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 1:37PM
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