Traveller’s Palm Indoors (Ravenala madagascariensis)

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Plant Details

Category: Houseplants
Light: Bright Light
Bloom Season:
Height: 3-8' / 
0.9-2.4m
Space: 4-8' / 
1.2-2.4m
Zones: 11, 12
Lowest Temp: 50° to 80°F / 
10° to 27°C
Colors: Grown for foliage

Basic Care

Keep soil evenly moist and fertilize regularly.

Water

Water once a week.

Soil

Organic-rich, well-drained soil.

Feed

Apply mild liquid fertilizer monthly.

Containers

Features

Traveller’s Palm is not a true palm, in fact it’s fanned branching structure and foliage are distinctively different from the typical palm. The common name comes from the plant’s unique, somewhat two-dimensional fan of foliage that tends to align in an east-west direction when growing in its natural habitat. As a result of this interesting growth habit a wandering traveler could use this tree to gain a sense of direction, just like a compass. This “flat” fan of foliage enables it to be used in places where height is desired without taking up a wide range of space.

Uses

A spectacular potted plant for large indoor spaces with bright windows. Can also be grown outdoors in a patio planter during the summer and brought indoors for the winter.

Traveller’s Palm Indoors (Ravenala madagascariensis) Care Guide

Start with a good quality, commercial potting soil. These are usually lighter in weight than topsoil, sterile and pest-free. Many are available with a mild starter fertilizer in the mix.

Select a container with a drainage hole or be prepared to drill holes for drainage if there are none.

Prepare the container by filling with potting soil up to 2” (5cm) from the rim of the planter. Remove the plant from its pot.

Make a small hole in the soil slightly larger than the root ball either by hand or using a trowel. Insert the plant into the hole and press soil firmly around the roots and just covering the root ball. When all the plants are potted, water thoroughly to settle the soil and give plants a good start. Place plant in a reliably sunny location.

Repot every 2 years in the same container or in a container slightly larger than the diameter of the roots.

Prefers moist but well-drained soil. Check the soil moisture with your finger. If the top 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, or plants are wilted, it is time to water.

Apply water at the soil level if possible to avoid wetting the foliage. Water the entire soil area until water runs out the base of the pot. This indicates that the soil is thoroughly wet.

Most container plants can be pruned freely to maintain the desired size and shape. Keeping the foliage trimmed also keeps the plants looking neat and tidy, encourages the plant to develop more side-shoots and flowers, and reduces the demand for the plant to develop a larger root system. This is important since the roots are in a confined space.

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product with a nutritional balance designed for foliage plants.

Too much fertilizer can damage plants so it’s important to follow the package directions to determine how much, and how often, to feed plants.

Slow-release fertilizers are an especially good, care-free choice for container plants. A single application can often provide plants with the proper level of nutrition all season long.

Companion/Combination Plants

2 Comments

  1. Margaret Pribel

    Last re-potted at least 2 years ago it is leaning heavily to one side. Guess I have to take the repot every 2 years rule seriously.

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Margaret,
      It definitely sounds like it’s time to repot your traveler’s palm and realign your plant so that it’s upright again. Transplanting every two years is an opportunity to judge whether your plant needs a larger pot, as well as refresh the soil that has become compacted and depleted of nutrients over time.

      Reply

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