Succulents

Pachypodium

The Pachypodium are shrubs, or trees depending on the species, which when you know them it is not uncommon for you to want to know more about them, since they not only produce generally aromatic and precious flowers, but unlike many other plants they resist very well the drought and high temperatures.

But, we are not going to deceive you, its maintenance is not very simple. This is so because excess moisture causes irreversible damage to them, to the point that, often, it is enough that we water them more than once for their roots to rot and, with them, the other parts of the specimens. For this reason, below I am going to talk to you about this incredible botanical genre.

Origin and characteristics

Our protagonists are trees and shrubs belonging to the genus Pachypodium, which is made up of some 25 species, all of them native to Africa, specifically Namibia, Angola and Madagascar. Their trunks and branches are covered by more or less thorns, which are short and sharp (but quite harmless to humans ) in which the plants have water reserves.

The leaves are lanceolate, green or dark green in color, and generally behave as deciduous. In habitat, and in climates that are tropical, they fall shortly before or shortly after the dry season begins; and in temperate climates they fall in autumn-winter, when the temperature drops below 10ºC.

Only the adult specimens bloom in spring. The flowers are grouped in white, yellow, reddish or pink inflorescences. And the fruit, called schizocarp, is dry, rounded, and with several small, brown seeds inside.

Main species

The most popular are the following:

Pachypodium lamerei

Pachypodium lamerei var. ramosum

It is known as a palm or Madagascar palm, although it has nothing to do with palm trees. It grows to a height of 8-9 meters, with a thick trunk which reaches up to 90cm at the base. The leaves are a maximum of 40cm long, and sprout at the ends of the branches. Its flowers are white and large, about 8cm.

It is the most common and, therefore, the easiest to get.

Where to buy?

You can get it at nurseries and garden stores, as well as here:



MADAGASCAR Palm Tree 30cm…

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Pachypodium saundersii

It is a shrub native to southern Africa that grows to 1.5 meters, with highly branched stems armed with sharp thorns. The leaves are glossy dark green, and its flowers are white with pink tints.

Pachypodium geayi

Image – Wikimedia/ Frank Vassen

It is a small tree very similar to P. lamerei, native to southwestern Madagascar. It can reach 10-11 meters in height, with a metallic gray trunk and grayish-green leaves. The flowers are white.

Pachypodium namaquanum

It is known as the elephant trunk, or halfmens in English. It is a shrub native to the North Cape of South Africa and southern Namibia. It develops a single trunk up to 4 meters high, from whose upper part greenish leaves sprout. It is on the CITES list of near threatened species.

What are the care they need?

Do you want to have a copy? Then we recommend providing the following care:

Location

Pachypodiums are plants that need to be in an area where the sun hits them directly, so that whenever the weather is warm it is important to have them outside.

Now, if you have an interior patio, or a very bright room in which a lot of natural light enters, these places can also be a good place for these plants as long as they are away from both cold and warm drafts.

Earth

Both the soil in the garden and in the pot must have excellent drainage; In other words, when it is watered, it must be seen that the earth is capable of absorbing and filtering water quickly. With this in mind, we recommend the following:

  • Garden: sandy soil. If you don’t have it, make a hole of about 50cm x 50cm (better if it is larger), cover it with shading mesh (on sale here ) and fill it with a medium grain pumice (on sale here ).
  • Pot: fill with pumice. The use of peat, mulch, and similar substrates for these plants is not good, since it is difficult for them to root and, in addition, there is a risk that the roots will rot.

Irrigation

Image – Wikimedia/ Salicna

Irrigation must be rather scarce. The soil or substrate must be allowed to dry completely before watering again. During the winter, and especially if there are frosts, the frequency will be less, every 15 to 20 days.

Do not put a plate under them or water over the top, as you could lose them.

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In spring and summer it is highly advisable to fertilize with a fertilizer for succulents, following the instructions specified on the product packaging.

Multiplication

Pachypodium multiply by seeds and sometimes by cuttings in spring-summer.

Seeds

To get them to germinate, they have to be sown slightly buried in seedbeds with drainage holes, in a substrate such as vermiculite that maintains moisture but at the same time has good water filtration capacity.

These seedbeds have to be placed outside, in a bright area, and always kept slightly damp. Thus, if all goes well, they will germinate in about a month.

Cuttings

Multiplying them by cuttings is not very easy, but if you want to try, do it only with adult specimens, which measure at least two meters. Cut a branch that you see is healthy, let the wound dry for about seven days, and then plant it in a pot with a pumice. Finally water.

For a better chance of success, you can impregnate the base with homemade rooting agents or rooting hormones ( No products found for sale. ).

Planting or transplanting time

In spring, when the minimum temperature rises above 15ºC. If you have them in a pot, transplant them every two years.

Plagues and diseases

They are sensitive to the attack of aphids and, in humid environments, to fungi. The first are treated with diatomaceous earth, and the second with powdered sulfur (on sale here ) and controlling the risks.

Related article:What are the fungi that affect plants?

Rusticity

They do not resist cold or frost. The Pachypodium lamerei from experience I can tell you that it withstands very weak and sporadic frosts of up to -2ºC if it has a dry substrate, but it lives better in warmer climates.

Image – Wikimedia/ lienyuan lee

What do you think of these plants?

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