How To Grow Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda)

Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Wiki Commons.

The Lipstick Palm Tree, scientific name Cyrtostachys renda, considered to be rare and exotic because of the time it takes for a seed to germinate and palm availability.

Tricky to grow, the sealing wax palm needs high humidity, a lot of water, and is not tolerant of drought or wind. It is definitely a collectors palm and is one of the most beautiful and sought-after palms in the world.

Lipstick palm is definitely one of my favorite palms trees. Its striking red crownshaft  creates a nice contrast with its lush bright green fronds. I think it is a must-have for any tropical garden.

Quick Facts:

Scientific name:Cyrtostachys renda
Common names:Lipstick Palm, Sealing Wax Palm, Rajah Palm, and Red Sealing Wax Palm.
Origin:Native to Malaysia and the island of Sumatra.
Growth Rate:Slow to Moderate. Up to 10 – 20 ft tall and 1-5 ft wide. In the wild it can get up to 50ft tall.
Cold Tolerance:USDA Zones 10b (35 to 40 F) to 11 (above 40 F)
Light Req:Partial shade to Full sun.
Water Req:High.
Soil Req:Widely adaptable.
Fruit:Yes.
Propagation:By seed germinating in 2-4 months.

The scientific name for the palm is Cyrtostachys renda (syn: Cyrtostachys lakka), Cyrtostachys comes from the greek ‘kyrtos’, meaning curved and ‘stachys’, meaning ear of grain to describe the curved inflorescence.

Lipstick Palm Identifying Characteristics

The Lipstick Palm trunks have similar characteristics with the Bamboo Palm. The Lipstick Palm is well known because of its brilliant red, sometimes orange, colored crownshaft. It is slender, smooth and slightly swollen at the base.

It has pinnate, or feather like, dark green leaves that grow upward more than outward and can get up to 2ft long. Stiff leaves have around 50 slender leaflets that are 18 in. long.

Lipstick Palm Flowers and Fruits

Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda) flowers
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Flickr.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda) flowers
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Flickr.

The Lipstick Palm produces greenish flowers which grow on the long stalks from below the crownshaft. It has male and female flowers on the same inflorescence.

Flowers are followed by small shiny fruits that turn black when they ripe. Fruit is about 1 in. long and oval in shape with a single seed inside. The lipstick palm fruit is not edible.

How To Care For Lipstick Palm

Cyrtostachys renda has multiple slender trunks which grow in clusters up to 10 – 20 ft tall and 1-5 ft wide. In the wild Lipstick palm can get up to 50ft tall.

It is not hardy, surviving only brief temperature drops down to 35F. Ideal year-round temperatures range from 75-85F.  It is great for growing in USDA Zones 10b (35 to 40 F) to 11 (above 40 F). It likes partial shade or full sun.

As they naturally grow in swamps, they are highly tolerant of flooding and can be grown in standing water. Lipstick Palm prefer rich, moist, loamy soils but will adapt to any well-drained soil. It does not tolerate drought that well.

To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during growing season. It has no major pests or disease problems.

The propagation of Lipstick Palm is through seeds. Seeds are very slow to germinate. Fresh seeds germinate much more quickly, but will take 2-4 months to germinate. Young plants stay small (a few inches tall) for perhaps 3 years, then begin to grow slowly.

Lipstick Palm Pictures

Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Flickr.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Flickr.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Flickr.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Flickr.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Wiki Commons.
Privacy wall out of Lipstick Palm Trees (Cyrtostachys renda)
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Flickr.
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda) trunks
Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda). Photo by Flickr.

7 thoughts on “How To Grow Lipstick Palm Tree (Cyrtostachys renda)”

  1. Where can I get catalogs to order palms that they will ship to south Alabama ( the gulf Coast ) ?
    Thank You PALM CRAZY
    Nancy Wilkerson

  2. Great article on growing Lipstick Palms. Your are correct about arrested growth for the first 3 years. By Dr. Gregg L. Friedman MD

  3. Hi
    I am about to visit my son in Sunnyvale CA. I am interested in several young seedlings of the cold tolerant lipstick palms to take back home.I will not mind at all if your seedling art smaller that the size you usually offer them for sale.How can you help me and what size are currently the seedlings?
    Best regards,
    Simcha

  4. Excellent article on Lipstick Palms. I agree, they like a lot of water. I move mine indoors anytime the temperature goes below 58 degrees. They cannot handle any cold weather. By Gregg L. Friedman MD

  5. Hello,

    I’m trying to grow a couple of these palm trees outdoor here in Dubai, I managed to buy 4 of them with a 2m height, unfortunately in July-Aug the temperature went up to 45C (113 F) and despite watering everyday apparently the trees are not surviving, drying out an scorching. Any idea if this is normal? Is it worth trying again or is it hopeless?

    Thanks

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