Palm killer? - How can I help these Palms do better?

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by tforrester, May 14, 2006.

  1. tforrester

    tforrester Member

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    I must be doing some obviously wrong. I love the look of potted palm plants, both indoor and outdoor, but every palm that I purchase and bring home I seem to destroy.

    Can anyone take a look at the pics attached and help me determine what type of palms these are what I am doing wrong?

    The FIRST 2 pics are a pair of outdoor potted palms that I've had for 1 year and they have slowly deteriorated. Last autumn and winter the tips turned brown and then a black band (see closeup) formed across the leaves. I presumed the black band meant I was overwatering so I recently (past 2 months) cut way back on the water. Also, their pots did not drain, so I moved them into draining pots and repotted using sandy palm soil from Home Depot. Now they get watered about once per week only when pretty dry and no longer sit in water. I gave them some palm food about 2 months ago as well. Nothing has happened. They look as bad as ever. They sit outside in southern california with day/night temp range of 55 to 75 and get bright indirect sun. Are the gone? Have I damaged them beyond repair and should I give up on these two? (PS - these two palms did get exposed to some very cool nights this past winter with temps down to 45 degrees on many occassions.)

    The SECOND 2 pictures are of a new palm I just bought about a month ago. It looked great in the store (Target). Being afraid of overwatering, I have not watered it much more than lightly once per week. The tips are now turning brown and it has developed some light yellow spotting. :-( With the exception of 2 days sitting in direct sunlight, I have kept it inside in a bright window area with strong indirect light. But I really want it outside in a bright shady area. I am just afraid to put it outside in case cool nights are not good for it.

    I really want these palms to do well. Am I barking up the wrong palm tree? Is there a better way to care for them - or a better type of palm that will do well? I can take care of them everyday if needed, I just don't know what to do.

    Thanks. Tom
     

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  2. L.plant

    L.plant Active Member

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    The symptoms of over and underwatering look very similar on palms. Palms can be difficult to water because they require moist soils, but they hate standing water or "wet feet". You need to strike a good balance. When you water, water heavily to ensure coverage of the root system and to leach excess salts that accumulate in the soil.
    The first palm(s) will take a while to recover; the damaged portions will not re-green and you'll have to wait for new fronds to emerge. The second palm is most likely just drying out a little too much between waterings.
    As far as identification, the second palm appears to be Ravenea rivularis Majesty Palm. The first may be the same, but here's a site for comparison: http://www.csupomona.edu/~isardinas1/hort439/list4/ravena.jpg
    If that doesn't look right, here's a palm gallery site: http://www.junglemusic.net/palmgallery.htm
    --Good luck
     
  3. tforrester

    tforrester Member

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    Thank you so much for your reply! Your assesment that this is a case of both over and under-watering makes perfect sense. I will try to be more attentive to watering and find that balance.

    So to put it into terms that I can begin to execute on - should the soil be kept moist frequently (water thoroughly 2x per week) ensuring good drainage? This would probably result in the top soil in the pots becoming dry to almost-dry before rewatering. Or should I let the top soil thoroughly dry out before watering? Don't these palms naturally grow in rainy environments where it rains almost everyday - like Hawaii?

    I am encouraged to hear you say "recover" referring to the first palms. I was ready to assume they were lost. How long before one might to expect to see new fronds emerge?

    In the under watering case (the second palm), I assume the brown tips will remain brown forever. If so, is there a problem with trimming the brown tips off for aesthetic purposes or is it best to just let them be?

    WATER WATER - is it ok to use tap water? I can't help but wonder what the chlorine in tap water does to plants (not just palms). But my supply of rain water is pretty scarce here in Los Angeles. Over the rainy season, I did catch rain water and nearly filled a 35 gallon trashcan. Thinking rain water is better for plants I have been using it for the past month or so, but it is running low and I will have to go back to tap water.

    Thanks so much. Best regards. -Tom
     
  4. Ally

    Ally Member

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    Hi, Tom:

    I use "stale water" to water my plants. I fill up a large jug and let it sit for about a week before watering my plants with it. This way you don't have to depend on rain water.
    When we do get a nice, soft, steady rain, I put my plants outside, also. They love it.

    Ally
     
  5. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Dr. Green Thumb likes this.
  6. tigerstail21

    tigerstail21 Member

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    Hi! I also have a Majesty Palm that is looking pretty bad. The previous threads have really educated me. My main question is the brown fronds. Is it alright to trim them off? Or will they fall off on their own?
    Thanks, Becky
     
  7. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Becky,

    Trim away!! It will only weaken the plant to have the browning fronds.

    Newt
     
  8. tigerstail21

    tigerstail21 Member

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    Thanks! ~B
     
  9. devinrae55

    devinrae55 Member

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    Interesting... i have the same prob with every palm i buy, I bought i spindle palm last year by far my fav. and now its dying too... brown tips that continue to fade in ultimately resulting in big dead leaves... check for scale or parasites thats what mine always die from and i can never seem to beat them
     
  10. Bluewing

    Bluewing Well-Known Member

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    L.plant saying to balance the watering is right! I have a huge Areca palm (indoors) that gets watered once a week in the summer. You want to water when the top inch or two of soil starts to feel almost dry, then you want to thouroughly water.You don't want the soil to dry out or stay wet all the time. Unless the soil completley dries out within a week, a once a week watering should be enough, but you'll need to make sure by testing the soil with your finger.
    If you cut any of the brown tips back, cut them far enough back that your into the healthier green tissue, the fronds will look a lot neater and cleaner
    If you fill something like an empty milk jug (s) with water (without their tops) flouride, which can cause brown tips, will escape. after a day or two.
     
  11. Flaxe

    Flaxe Active Member

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    I would:

    1) figure out a final spot for the plant! No more moving - too much stress
    2) trim dead foliage
    3) figure out a consistent watering/know how to water for 2-3 weeks, let it recuperate
    4) repot after 3 weeks in bigger pot without destroying too much of the existing rootmass, do not prune any healthy roots. Remove dead, black, brown, stinking, rotted roots.
    5) about 2 weeks later (1 month or 1.5 months from now), start a gentle feeding with something organic (fertilizer), very diluted
     
  12. fungipami

    fungipami Member

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    I have the same problem. I recently bought 2 6 foot Majesty Palms from my local supermarket. They were only 9.98 each and they looked fine in the store. One had a few brown spots on a few of the leaves but it looked minor. As soon as I got them home they started to deteriorate. Now I can only sit and watch while the leaves wither and brown to the point where they must be removed. The center leaves are still green so I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to save them. I do not believe it's a watering problem, as I have been very careful about watering. They don't have any visible bugs. They are in a large airy space which has lots of light but not too much direct sunlight. The pots seem large enough and have good drainage. I'm wondering if there could be some kind of toxin in the soil itself which is killing these plants, or something else I have not thought of. Does anyone have any ideas? I hate to watch these beautiful palms die.
     
  13. Angela Day

    Angela Day New Member

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    I've had the same problems with watering so this thread has been very informative. I recently repotted my Majesty palm and split it. Since then both plans have the same strange buds on them that I've never seen in the 10 years I've had this plant. What are they?
     

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  14. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Those will be the flowers/fruits!
     

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