Pachypodium lamerii crest|
The Madagascar palm is an easy plant to grow. It likes full sun, along with water and food during the warmer months. If it doesn't get water during the summer, it will just drop its leaves and wait for you; when the watering resumes, new leaves will come out. I quit watering mine in October or so that it will harden off before our first possible freeze in December.
Pachypodium can take a light freeze with no damage. A slightly harder freeze will kill off the top, which causes the plant to branch out from there next spring. Even harder freezes will kill back the whole plant, but if you've insulated the base at all, it should grow back eventually.
The definition of 'harder freeze' depends on exposure to prevailing winds, mulch, duration, etc. For me, in Fahrenheit: light freeze = 30-32 degrees; slightly harder: 29-30 degrees; even harder: 25-28 and less degrees. Less than 25 degrees in south Texas = panic.
This particular crested Pachypodium likes to throw off regular form stems. I used to cut them off as they appeared, but after some experimentation and extrapolation I decided that the plant benefits from the extra sun energy and the crested portion still grows and is healthy.
In this picture you can see the two types of crest: juvenile and mature. The juvenile stage is the tightly curled mass at the bottom. I once had a juvenile crest that became a big, compact ball about 20 inches in diameter before it went over the rainbow to see Dorothy and Toto. The juvenile crest form is suseptible to losing parts of itself to rot, which in most cases doesn't kill the whole plant, just a particular stem.
Pacypodium lamerii crest cutting
Pachypodium lamerii crest - 2 years later