dracaena palm

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by tbird, Aug 18, 2013.

  1. tbird

    tbird Member

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    I have a dracaena palm which looks like it is getting very black parts along the edges of the leaves and where the leaves meet the stalk. It is several years old and has grown to ceiling height. It is in a sunny window, and I water it when the meter reads "dry." Any ideas? Am I doing something wrong, or does it sound like disease? Help!
     
  2. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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  3. tbird

    tbird Member

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    Ok, thanks--I'll try bottled water.
     
  4. mrsubjunctive

    mrsubjunctive Active Member

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    How long since the soil was changed? If the problem is mineral buildup (whether fluoride or something else), switching to bottled water isn't going to change anything; most bottled water is just tap water from somewhere else, stuck in bottles, which would continue to add minerals to the soil. If you want to fix this problem (and I'm not 100% certain that that's the issue -- mineral buildup is one of the more likely possibilities, but it's hard to get an accurate diagnosis without photos), you have to get the minerals out of the soil.

    The easy way is to just replace the soil with new soil. This won't seem like the easy solution while you're doing it, if the plant is that big, but you only have to do it once, and then you're good until the minerals build up again, which could be years from now.

    The less-easy way would be to take the plant to the bathtub, or to a shaded spot outside, and run a lot of water through the soil. In theory, the water will dissolve the minerals as it runs through and then carry them out the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot; in practice you might not get rid of very much on any one occasion, but if you do it every time you water for a while, you might reverse the process enough to get the plant another year or two in the same soil. (And yes, the tap water you use to flush out the soil is the same tap water that caused the mineral buildup in the first place, but the concentration in the soil is higher than the concentration in the tap water, so flushing still helps overall.)

    The really expensive way would be to flush the soil with lots of water, but use reverse-osmosis, rainwater, or distilled water instead, since those won't contain any of the minerals that caused the problems, and as a result might be better at dissolving the minerals and carrying them away. But we're talking gallons and gallons of the stuff, probably on multiple occasions, and RO and distilled water are not cheap.

    Also if you have a water softener, and have been using the softened water on your plant, that could be causing the problem all by itself. The cure would be the same; you'd just be trying to remove sodium instead of fluoride.
     
  5. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    My bottled water is reverse-osmosis so the OP's may be as well.
     
  6. tbird

    tbird Member

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    I will try repotting. Thanks for your help!
     

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