Pachypodium Plant Care

Pachypodium Plant Care Guide

Pachypodium, or elephant’s foot, is a genus of spiny succulent plants native to Africa. The genus name comes from the Greek words pachy meaning thick and podion meaning foot, referring to the thickened stem at the base of the plant. This plants are easy to care for and make interesting houseplants or additions to a succulent garden. Here’s a guide to caring for pachypodiums.

About Pachypodium

Pachypodium is a genus of succulent, spiny plants native to Madagascar. The most well-known species is Pachypodium lamerei, which is commonly known as the “elephant’s foot” or ” Madagascar palm”. They are characterized by their thick, fleshy stems and leaves, and large flowers. They are popular houseplants due to their easy care requirements and striking appearance.

Pachypodiums are relatively slow-growing plants, but can reach heights of up to 10 feet (3 meters) in their natural habitat. They prefer warm, dry conditions and will not tolerate frost. When grown indoors, pachypodiums should be placed in a sunny spot with good ventilation. Watering should be withheld during the winter months to prevent rot.

What is pachypodium
What is pachypodium (By Istockphoto)

Pachypodium Care Guide

Pachypodiums are some of the most succulent plants around, and they’re also really easy to take care of. In fact, they don’t require a lot of water, and they don’t need a lot of sunlight, either. As long as you keep them in a warm and dry place, they’ll be just fine. Here the guide on how to care for the pachypodium

Speed of Growth

Another popular Pachypodium variety is Pachypodium leucophyllum, or the leucophyllum cactus. This plant typically grows to between two and four feet in height, and features beautiful, variegated lime green and white stripes on its trunk and branches.


The flowering of the Madagascar palm is rare at home because it requires a lot of patience and natural light to flower. There are very few exceptions, however, and if you do not have to replicate the phenomenon, you’ll typically have white, star-like flowers.

Make pachypodium flowering
Make pachypodium flowering (By Istockphoto)


Pachypodium plants need full sun to partial shade to thrive. They prefer well-drained soil and do not like to be wet for long periods of time. When grown indoors, Pachypodium plants need a bright spot near a window where they will receive at least 4 hours of direct sunlight each day.


Water your Pachypodium deeply and less frequently. This means that you should give it a good soaking about once a week, letting the water really penetrate the soil.

Don’t let your this plant sit in water. If the pot doesn’t have drainage holes, make sure to empty out any excess water after each watering so that the plant doesn’t get too wet.

Be careful not to overwater your Pachypodium. If the leaves start to yellow or drop off, this is a sign that you’re giving it too much water. Cut back on watering and allow the soil to dry out somewhat between soakings.

Temperature and Humidity requirements

Pachypodiums are not particularly demanding plants, but they do have some specific temperature and humidity requirements. In their natural habitat, they experience a wide range of temperatures, from hot days to cool nights. They also grow in very humid conditions.

They prefer warm temperatures, but can tolerate some fluctuation. Nighttime temperatures should not drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter months, pachypodiums will go dormant and will need less water.


Pachypodiums are not difficult to grow, but they do have specific soil requirements. The soil must be well-draining and sandy. Pachypodiums will not tolerate wet or heavy soils. If the soil is too dense, it will cause the roots to rot.


Pachypodium is adapted to hot, dry climates and does not require much fertilizer. In fact, too much fertilizer can be harmful to this plant.

A general purpose fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-5-5 or 8-4-4 applied once a year is sufficient. For best results, apply the fertilizer in early spring before new growth begins.

Potting and Repotting

Pachypodiums have very delicate roots and should only be repotted every two to three years. When repotting, use a well-draining potting mix and be sure not to damage the roots.

When repotting a plant, it is important to use a pot that is at least three times the size of the plant’s root ball. It is also important to remove any old soil, and to add fresh soil until the plant is sitting in a pot with a depth of at least one inch. After repotting a plant, it is important to water the plant well, and to fertilize succulents.

Pachypodium potting
Pachypodium potting (By Istockphoto)


One of the unique features of this plant is that it can propagate from a stem fragment.

The stem fragment must be at least an inch long and have a healthy root system.

Once the fragment is collected, it is best to soak it in water for a few hours to soften it. Once it is softened, the fragment can be placed in a potting soil mixture and watered well.

It is important to keep the soil moist, but not wet, and to fertilize it once a month.

Pests and diseases

One of the pests and diseases that can affect pachypodium is root rot. This occurs when the roots rot and the plant can’t absorb water or nutrients, which can lead to the plant’s death.

To prevent root rot, make sure your pachypodium receives adequate water and fertilization.

Spider mites are small, arachnid-like creatures that feed on plant sap. They can cause leaves to curl, turn yellow, and drop off the plant. Spider mites can be treated with a variety of pesticides, but be sure to read the label carefully before using them.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied creatures that feed on plant sap. They can cause leaves to curl, turn yellow, and drop off the plant. Aphids can be treated with a variety of pesticides, but be sure to read the label carefully before using them.

The fungus is another pest that can affect pachypodium plants. Fungus can be treated with a variety of pesticides, but be sure to read the label carefully before using them.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Pachypodium

How fast do Pachypodium grow?

This plant grow relatively slowly. In their natural habitat, they typically grow about 6 inches per year. However, in cultivation, they may grow a bit faster due to ideal growing conditions.

Is Pachypodium a succulent?

This plant is not a succulent. Pachypodium is a genus of spiny-stemmed plants native to Madagascar.

How many Pachypodium species are there?

There are approximately 23 species of Pachypodium, according to the most recent taxonomic classification. However, there is still some debate over the exact number of species, as some researchers believe that there may be up to 30.

How often should I water my Pachypodium?

They are succulents, so they don’t need a lot of water. Once a week should be plenty.

Is Pachypodium poisonous?

No, Pachypodium is not poisonous.

When should I repot Pachypodium?

They should be repotted every two to three years, or when the plant becomes pot-bound.

How do you propagate a Pachypodium?

Pachypodiums can be propagated by seed, but they are notoriously difficult to germinate. The best method is to sow the seeds in a well-drained, sandy mix and keep them warm and moist.

Where does Pachypodium grow?

This plants are native to Madagascar and grow in the dry, spiny forests of the island.

How do you grow Pachypodium indoors?

They are native to Madagascar, so they need warm weather and lots of sun to grow well. If you live in a cold climate, you can grow pachypodiums indoors in a sunny spot near a south- or west-facing window. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer.


The Pachypodium plant is a beautiful and easy to care for plant that makes a great addition to any home. With just a few simple tips of, you can keep your plant healthy and happy for years to come.