Ravenea rivularis

Most commonly used varieties: Ravenea glauca

Common Name: Majesty palm

Light Needs

Medium light

Water Requirements

Water thoroughly


Upright palm with graceful arching fronds.

Most commonly used varieties: Ravenea glauca

All palms have unique botanical features that set them apart from other plants. Most importantly, they have only one growing point, which is at the apex or end of the stem/trunk. This apical bud is the “heart” of all palms. Its removal from injury or disease will kill that stem of the plant. In addition, palms do not possess distinct vascular tissues called xylem or phloem, that transport food and water through most plants. Instead, they have a series of vascular bundles randomly scattered throughout the trunk tissue. Palms also lack the cambium cells that are necessary for lateral growth in trees. A seedling palm plant stem builds up a trunk cone to its full width before upward growth begins.

Other points of note about palms include, palm flowers aren’t showy, and the fruit are usually a small one seeded berry or drupe. Blooming is a fairly rare event in the interiorscape. If one should start to flower, remove the bud as soon as you spot it to keep the energy going to the foliage.

The large light green fronds are pinnately compound, thick and somewhat droopy at the tips.

R. rivularis thrive indoors in high light (250fc+) but can be successfully maintained in medium light (150-250fc+).

Ravenea is a big drinker. It has a large root system and the entire root ball needs to be watered thoroughly. Allow the root ball to dry down one-third of the way and then give a drink through to the saucer. Overwatering signs are yellowing leaves backed by brown tips and root rot. Yellowing can also extend up from trunk until entire frond is discolored.

Because of its extensive root system and active growth, R. rivularis does not like to dry out. In high light (250fc+) conditions, this palm requires more water. If top watering, allow only 2-3 inches to dry out before rewetting the media. This palm is a prime candidate for sub-irrigation as the reservoir provides a steady supply of water for the active roots.

The large root system of a Ravenea combined with the need for higher light causes it to be a BIG drinker. Water it all the way through to the saucer, making sure to moisten the entire root ball. Majesty palms are perfect candidates for a subirrigation system to ensure the roots always have the correct amount of water.

Signs of water stress show as brown tips. Symptoms of too much water (frequently caused by too little light or when it is infested with spider mites) will show as yellowish tips. The yellowing will creep up the fronds until the whole frond needs to be removed.

Each interiorscape setting has slightly different conditions and as a technician you must be sensitive to those subtle changes and adjust your watering to fit. Watch for the signs of overwatering which can be yellow/brown frond tips that appear wet looking, perhaps ringed with yellow. Brown or gray new growth and of course root and stem rot are also signs of chronic overwatering. A palm that starts to flop open and needs to be staked to be held erect is a plant with a dying root system caused by too much water and not enough light.

Watch the tips of the fronds and the older foliage. If they are turning crispy brown and a soft yellow, the plant needs more water. Prune off damaged leaves and tips. Raveneas, like all palms, have a few tipping problems due to the fluoride in most city water. Raveneas are fairly fast growers and consequently need fertilizer at least three times per year. Water the plant first, then fertilize so the fertilizer doesn’t burn the roots. Plants will benefit from fresh soil added once per year. You may need to repot every other year.

Wash the fronds regularly to keep the palm clean and healthy. Take care not to damage the terminal growth point found in the center of the trunk.

Monitor the growing media for pH and soluble salt content. Yellowish blotches on leaves and disrupted root development are symptoms of toxic build up of soluble salts in the media.

All Majesty palms benefit from cleaning. Keep them healthy and clean by washing or wiping the fronds using mild castile soap and water. Don’t use leaf shine for all palms are very sensitive to chemicals. Besides, palms aren’t supposed to be shiny; a dull finish is a natural look for a palm. This doesn’t mean dusty is OK. A dusty look is not attractive in interiorscapes. I like to use diaper wipes, white gloves or tube socks for a quick wipe down. If these come away with a yellowish tint, I know spider mites are present on the plant.

Spider mites, soft scale, and occasionally mealy bugs are pests of the Raveneas indoors, especially spider mites.

They do need to be fertilized at least twice per year and repotted every couple of years to keep the roots from using up every bit of soil and then drying out. Keep them watered, place them in plenty of light and give them fertilizer.

Soft brown scale, spider mites and mealybugs may infest this palm. Wipe with diaper wipes and/or spray with Brand X®. Also try spraying with soap and water. Occasional root rot shows up due to overwatering.