Propagating the Lipstick Palm (Cyrtostachys renda)

Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm)

Cyrtostachys renda/lakka (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm, Rajah Palm) at the road divider is one of the most beautiful and striking clumping palm that’s admired by many. A must-have exotic palm specimen if you have the garden space!

Last October, while taking photos of the Lipstick Palm trees that were growing in our church’s compound to include in our C. renda article here, John and I noticed that there were numerous suckers just waiting to be adopted.

So we approached James, the gardener, to give us some with the hope to propagate them for sale at our SFA Church’s Sunday Bazaar in aid of an ongoing church-building fund project.

Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm) with numerous suckers, seen at our church's compoundHe gave us 4 young plants as seen in the first image below but sadly, only the one that had a couple of roots survived. And that successful one sure took its own sweet time to let us know that it’s kicking and about. Since it was pointless to follow through with our earlier plan with just a single plant, we decided reluctantly to keep the loner for our garden instead!

Not that we’re not captivated by this stunning and majestic Lipstick Palm with its vibrant red stems and its lush green foliage, but we’re fully aware that it grows best on the ground. That’s something our young plant will miss as our ground is mostly paved and in the pot it’s forced to stay, restricted and contained…poor darling!

Learn how to propagate Crytostachys renda (Red Sealing Wax Palm, Lipstick Palm, Rajah Palm) :

A. Easily by seeds:

  1. Collect some seeds, best fresh seeds that will germinate between 1-4 months. Dried seeds can be used too but may take up to 9 months or later to germinate.
  2. Soak the seeds for 1-2 days, preferably in warm water or scarify them to speed germination.
  3. Then, scatter or plant them with their top partially exposed above the soil, into your garden bed or in a container filled with humus-enriched potting medium.
  4. Site them at a sunny spot. With good heat and sunshine, plus regular watering, seeds should germinate successfully.

    More details on how to propagate palms in general by seed germination here.

B. By division of suckers

  1. Suckers will emerge freely in abundance from a single parent plant, eventually forming a clump of them. Use appropriate gardening tools, such as a very sharp spade or shovel to cut through and divide the clump. Then, grow the divided clumps separately as newly grouped plants in garden soil that is enriched with humus and well-drained.
  2. Best to divide the clumping plants when they are young, otherwise it’ll be one very tough job to tackle, as seen in this post on propagating the Rhapis excelsa (Lady Palm), another clumping palm.

C. By severing the suckers (i.e. separating the side shoots individually)

  1. Use appropriate digging and cutting tools, like the hoe or ‘cangkul’ (Malaysia’s equivalent of a hoe) and a sharp knife/pruner, to sever the side suckers or shoots from the main plant. Make sure that each young plant has a healthy set of roots otherwise it’s doomed to fail as we’ve experienced in this project that was started on 10 November 2009.
    Cyrtostachys renda (Red Sealing Wax Palm, Lipstick/Rajah Palm): using suckers to propagate new plants. Shot 10 November 2009
  2. Replant them singly or 2 shoots together, in a container or directly into the ground, using good-draining and humus-enriched potting medium. Plant each shoot with its crown at the previous soil level and firm the soil well around its stem. Then, wet through thoroughly.
    Cyrtostachys renda (Red Sealing Wax Palm, Lipstick/Rajah Palm): using suckers to propagate new plants. Shot 10 November 2009
  3. Best to site them at a sunny spot and with good sunlight and generous watering regularly, they should flourish well as new plants that will eventually produce new shoots too.
    The left photo below shows its progress about 5½ months later. Height hardly increased but it had produced a new leaf and a teeny-weeny shoot had emerged! 2 months later, it had added another new leaf as seen in the right image.
    Newly propagated Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm) growing fine with one new leaf and a tiny shoot, shot 29 April 2010Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm) with one more new leaf and the tiny shoot, shot 29 June 2010
  4. It’s normal for these newly propagated young shoots to grow ever so slowly, remaining small and will begin to pick up growth-pace gradually.
    The photo below illustrates how slow the young plant had grown within 8½ months – just added 2 new leaves and 3 shoots, with hardly any change in height.
    Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick/Rajah Palm) had added 2 new leaves and 3 young shoots since last November. Shot 22 July 2010
    If it’s planted in a small pot, it’ll probably take up to a year or more for them to be pot-bound. Repot it when the time is right, especially if roots are popping out from the drainage holes – choose a heavy and fairly deep container that can support the weight and expansion of the clump. One where the palm can reside for several years without needing to be repotted unnecessarily. Or simply transfer the palm directly into the ground.

    This propagation technique of severing or separating the side shoots can be used for other clustering palms too, such as the Macarthur Palm and Lady Palm.

Last edit: June 4, 2016

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20 Responses to “Propagating the Lipstick Palm (Cyrtostachys renda)”

  1. james Says:

    Its strange to note that whole palm tree is covered with little ones – sort of like overcrowded and suffocating the parent plant.
    But the moment you remove them from the “clutter” they tend not to thrive. Its a pity that only one survived from the collection.

    Sometimes I collect these spouts by the roadside – where the palm seedling barely survive from the very limited soil area – but they still don’t survive after the transplant. So much so – I have given up with palm trees.

    Regardless, I really love that flashly red stalk on the palm – really gives the impact with the green leaves.

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    Appreciate your visits and comments, James! You may want to give it a last try with this red beauty….get a sucker together with its roots and you’re sure to succeed!
    Have a lovely day, my friend!

  3. Autumn Belle Says:

    I have to warn you about this beauty. I have 3 in my garden, planted on the ground. It’s roots are quite invasive, coming out everywhere and seeping into other flower pots to ‘steal’ nutrients. The suckers appear quite vigorously and I have to continuously cut off the top part, otherwise it becomes too crowded and occupies a lot of space. If you trim off the suckers, the few remaining trunks will grow tall which is what I wanted. Having said that, the palms do add an exotic tropical touch to the garden. Some birds like to build nests there too, and I just love to hear the sweet sounds of the tweetie birds every morning when I wake up.

  4. Jacqueline Says:

    I do agree, Autumn Belle…this beauty is truly invasive! Recall planting them on the ground, probably a decade ago and cracked our drains too. Now that the seedling is potted, hopefully will keep it contained though sure to break its home in due time.
    Great to know that birds may nest in it…something to look forward too! ;)

    Thanks for visiting and sharing some insights.
    Good night and have a great week ahead, my friend!

  5. Cesar Says:

    I first saw this incredible looking palm trees on my visit to Malaysia. I want one for my garden, will this grow in California? I have not seem them in any garden here and i am wondering if it is even possible to grow them here in Los Angeles.

  6. Jacqueline Says:

    We really don’t know, Cesar! But researching online, we read that this tropical Lipstick palm is extremely cold sensitive, hardy only for Zone 11 and will be killed if temperature should drop below 10°C.

  7. Austropman Says:

    Lipstick palms will definately not grow in California, it is too cold. I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, which is subtropical – bordering on tropical and the Lipsticks struggle to grow outdoors here. My Lipstick is about 7 feet tall but kept in a large insulated plastic pot set into the ground with mulch in a very sheltered spot where it gets plenty of warm winter sun. I also treat it with regular waterings of warm water mixed with a cap full of liquid potash and spray the fronds with a light dusting of fungicide in the winter months. This keeps at bay a brown spot fungi which can kill the palm if exposed to excessive cold temps. The rest of our seasons are warm and balmy and the weather quite tropical. – If you really want to grow this palm, move to Hawaii or build a heated, humid glass house! It will not survive for long under about 13 deg. C

  8. Austropman Says:

    Footnote to above comment – I have heard of a guy growing Lipsticks in the Miami area of south Florida which has a similar climate to where I live. But be carefull even in south Florida. One severe cold snap over just a few days can kill these palms!!!

  9. Soraya Says:

    Hola vivo en Cali, Colombia y tengo en mi jardín una bella palma roja o lapiz labialmqu esta muy bella, estoy leyendo sobre su propagación, ya que quiero regalarle a una amiga, pero me preocupa que se vaya a enfermar mi palma.

    gracias por su articulo.

  10. Jacqueline Says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Soraya! This palm is very hardy, so not to worry, yeah.

  11. Alex Says:

    I grow this beautiful palm here is South Florida and they do just fine just as long as the soil mix is right and soil must always be wet !!!! this palm down here will only tolerate temperatures no lower the 50 Degrees for maybe a day or so. I have my 2 big ones in 10 gallon pots and i move them to my enclosed terrace with a heater and they do great >

  12. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Alex,
    Thanks for sharing your experience with this red beauty. I’m sure many gardeners from your neck of the woods will find your info useful.
    Have a lovely day.

  13. Bellotropicals Says:

    Red Sealing Wax Palms Do just fine In South Florida, I Live in the Miami Area and I Have several large potted ones . The key to growing them is lots and lots of water , Temperatures cannot be lower than 45 Degree if not plant will have significant damage , I use for potting mix Lamberts all purpose potting mix and the soil remains very wet. One very important thing is fungicide once a month from November-January to prevent a fungus that the palm has internally which is fatal , Use Dithane mixed in a bucket of water 1 tables spoon per gallon and drench the whole plant only when temperature is cooler during the day ( Below 70 degrees). HAPPY GROWING

  14. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Bellotropicals,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your growing experience of this beautiful palm, with much details. God bless you for your generosity.
    Happy gardening!

  15. Gregg L. Friedman MD Says:

    Jacqueline,
    I live in the Miami area about 900 feet from the Ocean. I have a 1 foot tall Lipstick Palm in a pot in Full Sunlight. I give it a lot of water and take it inside anytime the temperature drops below 60 degrees. It is growing extremely slow and I notice some of the leaves have turned brown on their distal edges. Do you recommend that I prune these brown leaves off? Any other recommendations you may have are appreciated. It is growing extremely slow. By Gregg L. Friedman MD

  16. Esther Says:

    In Puerto Rico is very easy to grow this palm, we have two on our front yard that have 11 years old but is getting talller and bigger to the side. We want to get the suckers out (we here call them hijitos) to trasplant but they are so sensitive and died very quickly. I’m going to try one more time digging more deep to take off one with the roots and transplant. Thank you for the easy explanation. May God help us growing more and not to just cut them.

  17. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Esther,

    Nice to know that you like this exotic palm too. Hope you are able to get another young plant with roots to ensure success. All the best to you.

    Have a lovely day.

  18. Maggie Says:

    Interested in buying red lipstick baby trees. How much & for how many of them? Also how do I purchase this from you under what description?

  19. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Maggie,

    Sorry, we’re just home gardeners and not retail sellers for garden plants and products.

  20. Lillian Says:

    I love lipstick palms,back at home in Uganda(Africa)I carefully seperate them from the mother plant so that I don’t run out of my main stock.try it.

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