The majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis) is a tropical palm belonging to the Arecaceae family. Native to Madagascar, it is typically found growing on riverbanks and in swampy lowlands. It is considered a threatened species in the wild but is commonly grown as a houseplant.
The leaves (fronds) are pinnately compound, with long leaflets (pinnae) arranged around a central stem. A full-grown majesty palm will develop a trunk-like structure formed by old leaf bases. They generally do not develop trunks when grown indoors.
|Majesty Palm, Majestic Palm
|Up to 10-12’ tall (up to 100’ in the wild)
|USDA Hardiness Zones
|Subtropical to tropical
|Full sun to partial shade
Majesty Palm Care
Majesty palms require warm, humid conditions with consistent moisture. They are sensitive to changes in the environment. Other houseplant palms – such as Kentia palm, parlor palm, or areca palm – are considered less challenging to grow.
Majesty Palm Light Requirements
Provide at least 6 to 8 hours of bright indirect light each day. Indoors, place 1 to 2 feet from an east-, west-, or south-facing window and use a sheer curtain to protect from direct sun. Outdoors in hot climates, grow in partial shade or dappled light. Prolonged exposure to direct sun may cause bleaching or brown, crispy leaves. In low light conditions, the leaves may turn yellow and eventually drop.
Tip: Rotate indoor pots monthly to ensure even sun exposure.
Majesty Palm Soil
The soil should be rich, moist, and well-draining. For potted plants, combine two parts regular potting mix with one part coarse sand or perlite and one part coconut coir. To plant a majesty palm outdoors, choose a location that has well-draining, loamy soil. Incorporate organic matter into the soil before planting.
Did you know? Coconut coir is a sustainable alternative to peat moss. It is a renewable resource that shares the moisture-retentive, well-draining, and slightly acidic qualities found in peat-based compost.
Majesty Palm Watering
Maintain consistently moist soil but avoid waterlogged conditions. Water when the top inch of soil is dry—take care not to let the soil dry completely. Water less frequently during periods of slower growth in the cooler months. Outdoors, Ravenea rivularis grows best in tropical regions with regular rainfall. Provide additional water during periods of drought.
An underwatered majesty palm will become wilted and develop brown, crispy leaves. Overwatering may cause wilting, yellowing, and leaf drop.
Humidity and Temperature
Ravenea rivularis requires high humidity—most typical indoor spaces provide inadequate humidity levels for this palm. Avoid particularly dry environments such as rooms with central heating or AC. A humid location such as a bright bathroom is a good option. Mist indoor majesty palms regularly with filtered water and for optimal conditions, consider using a humidifier. Low humidity causes browning leaves and loss of vigor.
Maintain a consistently warm temperature range of 65 °F to 85 °F. Bring outdoor container plants inside when temperatures fall below 55 °F.
Feed with a diluted, all-purpose palm fertilizer every 6 to 8 weeks during the spring and summer. Avoid fertilizing during the winter.
Tip: Specially formulated palm fertilizers contain added magnesium—an important micronutrient aiding in the production of chlorophyll. It is possible to create a homemade fertilizer for palm trees with Epsom salt dissolved in water. This will supply a magnesium boost but will not provide the balanced nutrition of an all-purpose fertilizer.
Majesty palms do not require frequent pruning. Remove dead or yellow fronds to maintain appearance. Use sterilized, sharp scissors and cut 2 to 3 inches from the base of the stem. Avoid removing new growth.
Majesty Palm Propagation
It is possible to propagate Ravenea rivularis from seed or by division of the offshoots.
Like other palms, majesty palm seeds begin to lose viability after 10 to 16 weeks. Sow seeds soon after purchase or harvest.
- Prepare a seedling tray with equal parts potting mix and coarse sand. Water to moisten.
- Plant each seed to a depth equal to its height.
- Cover the tray with a clear polythene bag and seal.
- Maintain a consistent temperature range of 75 °F to 85 °F and keep the soil moist.
- Germination may take several weeks to months.
- Transplant the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle.
Division – Offshoots
Majesty palms may occasionally produce offshoots (pups) from their base. Propagate by division when repotting.
- Remove the plant from its pot.
- Gently pry apart the offshoot from the parent plant. If necessary, use a sterilized, sharp knife to separate cleanly.
- Plant the separated offshoot into its own pot with a well-draining substrate. Water well and allow excess water to drain away.
- Provide warm, humid conditions and bright indirect light.
Repot every 1 to 2 years in the spring or summer. Choose a pot that is only slightly larger—majesty palms prefer to be slightly rootbound. Add a layer of pebbles or clay shards to the bottom of the pot to aid drainage. Keep the base of the palm (the crown shaft) above the soil to prevent rot. Water well after repotting to settle the soil and remove air bubbles.
In subtropical and tropical climates (USDA zones 10-11), it is possible to grow majesty palms outside all year. In cooler climates, cultivate as a houseplant or grow in containers that can be moved outdoors seasonally. Bring outdoor container plants inside when temperatures fall below 55 °F.
Majesty palms do not exhibit true dormancy, but growth may slow during the cooler months. Water less frequently but avoid letting the soil dry completely.
Inadequate humidity, moisture, and nutrition are most likely to cause problems for majesty palms. Check the soil moisture and assess the growing conditions when diagnosing symptoms.
- Yellow fronds: Overwatering, poor drainage, underwatering, or low light. Note that some older leaves turning yellow are a natural part of the aging process.
- Yellow tips and edges: Magnesium deficiency.
- Yellow spotting: Potassium deficiency.
- Brown tips or crispy leaves: Low humidity, underwatering, or sunburn.
- Brown spots: Overwatering or temperature fluctuations and drafts.
- Dull leaves: Low humidity.
- Wilting: Underwatering or overwatering.
Majesty palms grown in poor conditions, such as low humidity, will become weakened and more susceptible to pests.
- Spider mites: Appear as a fine webbing on the stems and leaves. Wash the palm in the shower or using a watering can with a fine rose head. Once dry, spray with a diluted neem oil.
- Scale insects: Appear as small bumps on the fronds. Remove with a soft brush soaked in rubbing alcohol. Spray with diluted neem oil.
- Mealybugs: White, cotton-like appearance. Remove bugs carefully using a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol.
- Whiteflies: Sap-sucking pests that leave a white, waxy residue. Spray with a mild insecticidal soap.
Overwatering and poor drainage can cause fungal issues such as root rot. Symptoms include yellow fronds, wilting, brown or mushy roots, and an overall decline in health. Prune affected roots and foliage. Repot into fresh, well-draining substrate.