A Succulent That Looks Like a Palm Tree – My Top 3 Picks

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Palm trees always remind me of seaside resorts of Southern Europe. Time drags on, sun shines, people lie on the beach, and I–strolling slowly along and watching, feel at least for a short moment that world isn’t that fast-paced as everyone says. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. So why not to bring at least a memory of this feeling to colder climate, out of holiday resorts? You can grow a coconut palm indoors, but you have much better chances of succeeding with one of the succulents that resemble palm trees, and we will look at such succulents now.

Before looking at the list, I want to emphasize something: trimming and pruning always plays a big role when you try to achieve a certain shape, or a certain resemblance with your succulents. Just like you do with fruit trees in your garden, you can shape your succulents to look the way you want, for example resembling a palm tree. Keep it on your mind once you do not find the resemblance satisfactory enough.


Ponytail palm as no. 1 succulent that looks like a palm tree

Credits: Maja Dumat – Creative Commons Licence BY 2.0.
This palm has a relatively short trunk, but older ponytail palms can resemble a typical palm tree even more, once the trunk is longer…

From all succulents resembling palm trees, ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is the one easiest to get in the US. Native to Mexico, many producers grow this beauty in greenhouses for commercial purposes. It is prone to over-watering, but other than that it doesn’t require much, thrives in neglect, and can easily live for over 50 years, even indoors. Needless to say, if you want to reach real “palm tree like” resemblance, it is better growing in outside, in a sunny spot, where some roof does not limit its growth.

What many people do not know is that ponytail palm can flower and bear fruits, if you grow male & female exemplar together, and it the conditions are fitting. The plant has also some special meaning in Feng Shui, and can bring you luck and prosperity if you place it correctly in your house. And if you believe in such stuff, of course :).


Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei) as the no. 2 succulent resembling a palm tree

Attribution: H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As the name suggests, this stem succulent comes from the beautiful (yet poor) isle of Madagascar, and it resembles a palm tree. It can grow quite tall outside–up to 7 meters, which is the size of many palm trees, and hence in such cases it can resemble a real palm even more than a ponytail palm does. However, it rarely reaches over 1.5 meters inside, hence you may not get the expected results should you grow it in your living room.

Many nurseries in the US grow this succulent, and it isn’t as hard to purchase as one may think, considering the origin of the plant. It requires bright light and warm temperatures, and it may wilt if you do not provide it with such. Water just enough to keep the soil from drying out completely, but remember that less is more in this case. It is rare losing a Madagascar Palm to under-watering, but pretty common to lose it to over-watering…


Chinese Fan Palm (Livistona chinensis) as no. 3 succulent that looks like a palm tree

Source: Zureks, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons ; this palm can grow to amazing proportions outside, in fitting conditions. Inside it stays much smaller though.

Another corner of the world, and another amazing succulent that resembles a palm tree. It s a slow-growing plant that can live for decades, and eventually grow as tall as 15-feet, resembling some smaller palm trees in both shape and size. It prefers bright indirect light and enjoys some shade. When the top of the water feels dry, water it, but do not overdo it. It can tolerate variety of soils and it is relatively easy to grow.

I hope you have found on the list your favorite succulent, and wish you best of luck with your plants!

May also interest you: Ponytail palm trunk soft – Causes & Remedies.