Cyrtostachys renda (Lipstick Palm, Red Sealing Wax Palm)
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.
He 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:
- 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.
- Soak the seeds for 1-2 days, preferably in warm water or scarify them to speed germination.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.