Is The Majesty Palm A BAD House Plant Or Indoor Palm?

We have updated this Majesty Palm care article to include expanded care information.

There are a lot of great indoor houseplants available at your local nursery or garden center, I just do not think the Majesty or the “majestic palm tree” is one of them.

Some will have success, but from what I’ve seen indoors most experience yellowing leaves and fronds. Indoors the plant leaves slowly yellow, a mite colony sets up shop, and its appearance declines rapidly.

Many palms do well in the house once you learn a little something about their care, water, and light requirements.

For example – The Bamboo Palm beats the Majesty! Majestic palms cannot survive the stress they face in indoor living spaces, plus there are better “indoor palm plant” options.

That is one reason at PlantCareToday our goal is to help you learn more about caring for your indoor houseplants, flowers, landscape plants, and design.

As mentioned above there are lots of plants for use indoors. But… every so often a plant is “introduced” to the market and frankly it is a mistake.

Here Are A Few Reasons:

Growers, along with your local garden center or nursery are always looking for something new to offer. To have a product that can be sold inexpensively, growers need plants that grow easily and fast.

Garden centers need plants that fit certain price points.

Unfortunately, garden centers and nurseries are sometimes “stuck” with what the corporate office orders. The problems of the “majesty palm” being a good interior plant are not being laid at the feet of the garden centers and nurseries.

It’s just a plant that shouldn’t have been grown or sold to the interior market.

In the nursery, growing in a container in partial shade the palm grows to a height of 4′ to 6′ feet tall rapidly. Perfect for growers. But has it been tested for durability indoors?

Although I’m not going to win any fans and certainly not any praise from growers for this “recommendation” I’ve got to call it as I see it.

DON’T BUY a Majesty as an indoor houseplant unless you are looking for a challenge.

Now if you want a great indoor palm and plant, here are my recommendations:

The above are great options and there are other houseplants that look like a palm tree.

Every week our mailbox is littered with questions and problems from people experiencing problems with Majesty palms.

Don’t think you’re alone, even growers have problems making them look good.

Remember when buying a big plant that’s cheap like the majesty doesn’t mean you’re receiving good value, you may be buying problems.

Majesty Palm Care: Growing Ravenea Rivularis

Ravenea rivularis (ra-VEN-ee-uh riv-yoo-LAIR-iss) is a member of the Arecaceae (ar-ek-AY-see-ee) family, hailing from Madagascar, where this tropical, tender perennial palm grows naturally along the river banks.

NOTE: Ravenea Rivularis is also known as Ravenea Glauca – “The Majesty Palm”

In non-tropical settings, it makes a rather temperamental, house plant. Because of its crown of elegant fronds, this palm is commonly called Majesty Palm. 

Growing outdoors in South Florida, Miami-Dade County, in particular, and can do very well in the landscape.

Majesty Palm trees are adaptable. It is somewhat salt and drought resistant and also resists pests and disease if properly situated and cared for.

However, there are very few settings outside of Madagascar where it can grow outdoors year-round. [source]

Size & Growth

Grown outdoors in a non-native setting, this palm will attain a height of ten feet fairly quickly. After that, growth slows down. You can expect steady, gradual growth until the plant tops out at 10-15’ feet tall. 

Majesty Plams growing outdoors in the south Florida landscape

In its native setting, Majesty Palm can grow to be eighty feet high. In the wild, it has a very bulbous base that tapers gradually to a very narrow trunk and apex. 

If kept indoors, it will grow very slowly and will stay below ten feet high.

Majesty Palm is grown primarily for its attractive evergreen foliage, which may be dark or light green.

The fronds grow in an erect fashion and arch at the tips forming an attractive crown. In the wild, the fronds may reach a length of eight feet. 

What’s the height and growth rate of the Majesty?

In the nursery, growing in a container under partial shade plants rapidly grow to a height of 4′ to 6′ feet tall. Perfect for growers. But has it been tested for durability indoors?

Why would growers introduce plants that don’t do well and why would nurseries or garden centers carry such a plant?

Flowering & Fragrance

Kept indoors, the Majesty is unlikely to flower. If it does, flowers will be very small, fragrant and pale yellow. In the wild or outdoors in an ideal setting, the flowers become very showy, edible fruit.

Light & Temperature

This riverbank plant does well with plenty of bright, indirect lighting. Too little light causes yellowing of the fronds. It does not tolerate bright, direct sunlight without lots of moisture and fertilizer. Otherwise, leaf scorch can occur. 

As a houseplant, this palm does best with temperatures ranging from 65°-75° degrees Fahrenheit and can tolerate temperatures up to 85° degrees Fahrenheit.

Guard against sudden hot or cold drafts. 

When grown outdoors, Majesty Palm can tolerate temperatures ranging from 45°-85° degrees Fahrenheit.

However some anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be able to adapt to colder settings as several individuals have reported that it dies back at temperatures below freezing but then returns in the spring.

Of course, in this sort of situation, the Ravenea will not grow to be very big and probably will not return more than a few times.

It is winter hardy to varying degrees in USDA hardiness zones 9b-11. 

Watering & Feeding Plant Info

Keep the soil evenly moist. Generally speaking, watering one or two times weekly is a good idea. Check to see that the top inch of soil has dried and then water thoroughly. 

Never allow the Ravenea to sit in water as this will cause root rot and yellowing of the frond tips. Too little water will cause the tips of the fronds to turn brown. 

Majesty Palms are hungry plants and should be fed twice a month with a balanced, liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength. Applications of granular slow-release fertilizer in spring and summer is also an option.

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Humidity

These tropicals require a fairly high humidity level. When going in containers. Provide a spray of water or mist every day. Set the plant on a pebble tray (with the base well out of the water) to increase humidity around it. 

Soil & Transplanting

Good quality potting soil with a bit of sand mixed in to improve drainage is perfect for Majesty Palms. The soil should be rich and well draining. 

Repot annually late in the springtime or early in the summer using a pot that is at least 10” across. Increase pot size by 2” each year. A broad-based, natural terracotta or ceramic pot will help provide stability and weight to keep the plant from toppling. 

Grooming & Maintenance

Before you begin, be sure that your pruning shears are very sharp and very clean. We like Felco #2 hand pruners. Clip off brown and/or yellowed fronds and any that seem to be infected with fungus or bacteria. 

If a frond is damaged at all, cut it off completely at the base. 

How To Propagate Majesty Palm

It’s easier and less disappointing to simply buy plants, but if you must propagate them, it is done using seeds. 

Seeds don’t store well, so you are best off collecting seeds from your own plant and sowing them as soon as possible. To do this, select clean, unblemished, ripe fruit from the tree.

Remove the seeds and let them dry for a short period of time before planting. 

How to Germinate Palm Seeds Indoors, The Baggie or Closed Container Method.

Majesty Palm Pest or Disease Problems

Palms grown indoors can battle spider mites when humidity drops and bouts with mealybug on stems and undersides of leaves.

As with all plants, underwatering or over watering can cause problems with root rot and poor growth. If you notice brown tips on your fronds or they are yellowed, suspect excessive watering and/or too little light. 

Majesty

If you find that your plant is not under watered but does have brown leaf tips, you may be dealing with a fungal or bacterial infection caused by high humidity. In this case, increase gentle air circulation around your plants. Avoid overcrowding as this can lead to fungal infection. 

Dampness and overcrowding may also encourage spider mites. You can prevent a spider mite infestation by misting your plants with a mild concoction of warm, soapy water every couple of weeks. 

If you see webbing on the undersides of your plants’ leaves, suspect these pests. When spider mites are already in residence, you must treat them with a liberal spraying of insecticidal soap or a Neem oil mixture. 

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Garlic Spider Mite Home Remedy

Here is a home remedy for spider mites using garlic:

  • Mash two garlic cloves into a quart or liter of water.
  • Allow the mixture to sit overnight.
  • Strain the solution and spray plants without dilution.
  • Next test a small area with the solution before spraying the whole plant.

Some home growers have found treating mites with garlic to be very effective and others have not.

Suggested Majesty Palm Uses

Ravenea rivularis in the right setting, this large, attractive palm needs little care and makes an eye-catching addition to a large space with ample bright, indirect light. 

In some parts of Florida, Majesty Palm can do well outdoors as a landscape plant. Just be sure it gets plenty of fertilizer and water and the right amount of bright light. 

Recommended Reading

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