Majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis or Ravenea glauca) leaves you in no doubt of its stately, flared form and attractively feathered fronds. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, Majesty palm grows 20 to 40 feet tall outdoors in the ground, but it's often grown as a houseplant and container-growing restricts its size. To maintain deep green leaves and healthy growth, this palm needs regular fertilizer and water during the growing season.
Fertilizing Outdoors and Indoors
Outdoor and indoor Majesty palms grow best with regular fertilizer. Fertilize an outdoor Majesty palm every three months or when its leaf color begins to fade. Sprinkle a ready-to-use, granular 8-8-8 palm fertilizer product that has added magnesium, iron and manganese at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 1 square foot within the area under the canopy of the palm, and mix it into the soil or mulch surface. Water the palm after applying the fertilizer. An indoor Majesty palm needs fertilizer once a month while it's actively growing. Dilute a 30-10-10 fertilizer with added iron at a rate of 1/2 teaspoon in 1 gallon of water, and apply the solution every month. Don't fertilize an indoor Majesty palm in winter.
A Majesty palm needs moist soil in summer and slightly less moisture during cooler months when it stops growing. Water a garden palm when the top 2 inches of soil are dry, applying enough water within the drip line of the tree to moisten the soil to the depth of root zone, which is usually about 1 to 1 1/2 feet deep for a mature palm. Plant an indoor Majesty palm only in a container with drainage holes or you risk fungal root diseases. During the growing season, water an indoor plant when the soil surface is slightly dry. Place the palm somewhere it can drain freely and pour water over the soil surface until it appears through the drainage holes. When the container no longer drips water, place it back on its drip tray. When the plant stops producing new leaves, water when the soil surface is dry to a depth of 1/2 inch.
As a self-cleaning palm, Majesty palm has few pruning needs, but an indoor plant benefits from a humid atmosphere and regular cleaning. A Majesty palm naturally drops old, dead leaves and rarely requires pruning. If you want to tidy up the plant, wipe pruning shear blades with a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol before and after pruning the leaves at their bases. To promote healthy, glossy leaves on an indoor palm, stand the plant in its container and drip tray on a shallow tray of pebbles filled with water. Every few weeks, wipe the fronds with a clean, damp cloth or rinse them with clean, tepid water.
Pests and Diseases
Diseases rarely affect a Majesty palm, and maintaining high humidity or spraying with insecticidal soap controls most pests. Red spider mite and scale insects can infest a Majesty palm. Red spider mites create fine webs on palm leaves, while scale insects look like tiny shells stuck to leaf veins and stems. Increase the humidity around a palm infested with spider mites by spraying its leaves a fine spray of clean, tepid water every two or three days. To control scale insects, spray the palm with a ready-to-use insecticidal soap product containing 1 percent potassium salts of fatty acids. Cover all the leaves and stems, and spray the palm again after two months if the problem persists. While using insecticidal soap, wear protective clothing and goggles and spray outdoors, if possible.
- Floridata: Ravenea spp.
- National Gardening Association: Millipede/Palm Problem
- Plant of the Week: Ravenea Rivularis -- Majesty Palm
- Wisconsin's Tropical Gardens: Majesty Palm
- University of California Cooperative Extension San Joaquin County Environmental Horticulture: Palm Diseases in the Landscape
- Walter Reeves.com: Majesty Palm -- Scale Insects
- Florida Gardener.com: Majesty Palm
A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about travel, gardening, science and pets since 2007. Green's work appears in Diva, Whole Life Times, Listverse, Earthtimes, Lamplight, Stupefying Stories and other websites and magazines.