Pachypodium geayi

silver madagascar palm
The largest pachypodium with a thick steel-grey trunk and muted purple leaves. True specimen plant. Protect from winter rains. Winter leaf shed adds seasonal interest.
Pachypodium geayiPachypodium geayi
height 5–20
width 2–6
tolerates Drought, Deer , Heat, Pots, Rooftops
Pachypodiums are summer growers that want to go mostly dry between waterings without going completely dry when actively growing. If they are allowed to go completely dry, they’re inclined to drop their leaves.

Pachypodium trunks will get a little squishy (careful getting your fingers between those spines!) when they’re ready for water and sometimes you can even see them shriveling. Once they’ve been watered, the trunk will firm up again.
exposure Part Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Requires Perfect Drainage, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing All Purpose 1/2 Strength
origin SW Madagascar

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

If near the coast be sure to place this pachypodium in a warm sheltered spot. Growth is rapid when given heat, good drainage, fertilizer and summer water.
This pachypodium has an upright, sparsely branched form, being typically solitary for many many years. If you remove the top, your pachypodium will come back with multiple heads at that point, though you should only do this in the late spring or early summer, when the plant is actively growing. Often with P. geayi one head becomes dominant and the others stop growing. The cut-off top portion can be rooted by allowing it to callus and placing it in a warm spot in pure pumice, though geayi proves tricky to root in this way, usually rotting.
This pachypodium will remain small if kept in a small pot, but it can grow up to fifteen feet if you give it a huge pot or plant it in the ground in an appropriate climate. Once it reaches full size it will branch out, forming a small crown.
Pachypodiums naturally lose their leaves during the winter, so don’t be surprised if your plant looks like a palm in the summer and a cactus in the winter (we love that about these plants!). When you see your pachypodium beginning to drop leaves in the fall, it is time to cut back on the watering for the winter; if it starts to drop leaves in the summer, it’s possible that you’ve greatly underwatered and the plant would appreciate a drink.
Pachypodiums thrive indoors in a warm sunny room. If the room is sunny during the winter, your pachypodium may skip its dormancy period entirely and keeps its leaves all year round.
This plant can grow outdoors in a sheltered spot in the Bay Area, especially in pots where the drainage can be controlled by planting in 50% pumice to 50% cactus mix.

Special Interest

This plant is from the spiny forest of Madagascar, where many unusual plants have taken on a pachycaul or caudex form to survive drought. They grown among other unusual plants such as baobabs and alluaudia.

Pachypodiums are relatives of plumerias that evolved to thrive in a drier climate. When they bloom, they will have similar showy flowers, but (unfortunately!) the flowers are scentless.

The genus name pachypodium (thick - foot) describes this plant’s swollen basal caudex.