Last Updated on October 17, 2022 by Plant Mom Care
Travelers Palm is indigenous to Madagascar and isn’t a true palm. This spectacular imposter is related to the bird of paradise and bananas.
Its two-dimensional fan of 14-feet-long leaves grows at a 45o angle from a trunk that can measure almost 12 inches in diameter and can reach a mature height of 50 feet. Young plants grow fast until the trunk emerges from the ground then growth settles down to a moderate pace.
The leaves can collect rainwater and distribute it to the plant’s stem. The young plant grows at ground level until the trunk emerges and sheds its lowest leaves, leaving behind leaf scar rings. During summer this plant produces white or yellow flowers, similar to the flowers of a bird-of-paradise. The seeds are covered in bright blue hairy fiber.
Because of its size, this plant works best when grown in expansive landscapes and gardens. It can also be grown as a young potted plant for some time and adds an interesting accent to rooms with high ceilings and large windows.
Travelers Palm Light Requirements
Young plants grow best in a shaded area while older plants love being grown under full sun. You can grow young plants indoors in containers under bright light but it eventually becomes too big and has to be transplanted outdoors.
Travelers Palm Watering
This palm prefers soil that stays consistently moist like its original habitat in rainforests but do not overwater the plant. The stems of fronds can store water so the plant can survive dry spells in warm regions.
Travelers Palm Humidity
As a tropical plant, it can grow in above-average humidity levels indoors but it will enjoy higher levels of humidity, so keep a humidifier nearby when growing it indoors.
Travelers Palm Temperature
It prefers temperatures between 50 – 80°F. If temperatures drop below 60°F, the tree will suffer from stress, and temperatures below 40°F will kill the tree. It grows well outdoors in zones 11 – 12.
Travelers Palm Soil
Rich, loamy soil along with neutral or mild acidity is best for this plant. The soil must be able to retain water without getting too soggy.
Travelers Palm Repotting
Potted plants must be repotted when roots start growing out of drainage holes or every 1 – 2 years in spring. Choose a container about 1 to 2 inches wider than the original with sufficient drainage holes.
Fill the new container to about 1/3 with potting soil, carefully lift the plant out of the container it’s currently in, remove any excess soil still attached to the roots and trim any old or dead roots. Plant the root ball in the container, add extra potting soil, and water it well.
Note: this plant should be grown in a large and heavy container as it can become top heavy and fall over. Many choose to plant it outdoors once it grows too big indoors if the climate is suitable.
Travelers Palm Propagation
The plant is propagated by division or by seeds. Separate any rooted suckers growing at the plant’s base by gently tugging them up and replanting them in individual containers with damp, well-aerated soil. There might be some roots tangled with the roots of the mother plant that you will have to carefully disentangle to avoid damage.
Keep the baby plants in a bright but shaded spot and make sure the roots of the mother plant are covered back properly with soil.
Propagation from seeds requires some more effort, time, and patience as germination is a slow process with this plant. Remove the blue hairy fringes from the seeds and soak the seeds in warm water for around 24 – 48 hours to soften the hard seed coat. Cover the container with aluminum foil to conserve warmth. Maintain a room temperature of more than 65°F and change the water every 12 hours.
Sow them in damp, sandy soil and cover them with a fine layer of soil. Keep misting the soil but do not overwater. Keep them in temperatures around 68°F.
Once the seedlings germinate usually within a month or so, continue misting them until two months old. Now they can be transplanted into individual containers filled with rich, loamy soil.
Use all-purpose fertilizer or a fertilizer specifically made for tropical plants to feed the plant once every 2 months during spring, summer, and autumn.
The older outer branches can be pruned as necessary, particularly if you want to control the plant’s spread indoors – it can survive with 5 – 6 leaves. Deadheading wilted blooms will prevent the plant from self-seeding.
Travelers Palm Common Problems
This palm is vulnerable to Cercospora leaf spot, a very serious disease, and root rot. While this plant is considered to be pest-resistant, spider mites might occasionally infest the plant, particularly when humidity levels are low.
Prune off infected leaves and do not overwater the plant. Isolate the plant if you spot spider mites, a spray of neem oil will help control the mites. Keep a humidifier near the plant to raise humidity levels.
Leaves might turn yellow on occasion due to overwatering or lack of nutrients. Let the 1 to 2 inches of topsoil become dry before watering it again. Feed the plant once every 2 months in spring, summer, and autumn to make sure it receives nutrients.
Brown leaves on this plant could be due to over-fertilization or overwatering and poor drainage. If you are feeding and watering the plant properly, check whether the soil is retaining water.
How quickly do Travelers’ Palms grow?
It grows rapidly, even though it initially starts as a bunch of small leaves growing out of the ground. It can grow about 3 feet a year, ultimately reaching a massive height and width. If you grow it in containers, be prepared to eventually transfer it to your garden outdoors but make sure you plant it at least 8 – 10 feet from any walls.
How tall do Travelers’ Palms grow?
They can reach a mature height of more than 50 feet.
Do Travelers’ Palms spread?
They can spread by suckers at the plant’s base and by self-seeding if you allow the flowers to grow and produce seeds.
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