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Palm Plant Help
updated: Feb 21, 2013, 9:57 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

I need help with understanding what is wrong with our palm plants. Is it too much water, not enough, the rest cold weather? I believe these plants have been established in the ground for a while (just moved into this house).

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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 377063 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 10:09 AM

I would say that is from the hard freeze we had a few weeks ago. They look established, so, you dont need to water that much in the winter...or the summer for that matter.


 COMMENT 377064P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 10:09 AM

(No plant expertise here) -- but certain plants all over the area have (visually) major problems with whole and/or partially browned leaves after the frosty weather a couple of weeks ago.


 COMMENT 377065 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 10:10 AM

Needs palm fertilizer and water.


 COMMENT 377067 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 10:12 AM

From the burning at the tips I would guess it's a combination of poor nutritional value in the soil (maybe washed out by the rains and/or overwatering) and cold temps we've been having. I've got a similar problem with an orchid tree and I'm treating it with an iron supplement with a higher N content (21-5-6).


 COMMENT 377077 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 10:52 AM

We have micro climates here and it looks like you're tree is in a cold spot, doubtful it's a nutrient or water issue.


 COMMENT 377081P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 11:04 AM

Not an expert either. Any other time of the year and I would say fertilizer burn or too much water. But I think it's from the freeze last month. Is it in an open area, no shade above?


 COMMENT 377088 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 11:17 AM

Looks like too little water actually. If you've been depending upon the rain for watering, we really haven't accumulated very much. If I dig a small hole, the soil is very dry. Try digging a small test hole, 6-8" deep, just outside the root zone and see how moist your soil is. It is also a good time of year to trim them.


 COMMENT 377093 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 11:30 AM

I'm sorry, but I have to laugh. You have the following listed as what's wrong: too much water, too little water, too much fertilizer, too little fertilizer, cold, exposure. Edhat is a great source, but sometimes I laugh at the responses of admitted non-experts because they so often vary widely. Anyway, 088's tip to dig outside the root zone to see how the soil looks sounds like your best bet, unless you want to contact a plant/palm person. Good luck & I hope it's looking better come spring/summer!


 COMMENT 377095 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 11:34 AM

OP here: Thanks for the posts. I'm not sure how to trim them...clip off the whole leaf or just the portions that are "burned"? They are in a spot that gets some shade during this time of year and yes pretty cold. But there are other palm plants nearby that don't look as bad...yes, they are burned looking but not to this degree so far. I'm still not sure what to do. My plan was just to leave them alone and water some time next week if the soil is dry. Frustrating because these are pretty plants and I'm not sure how to proceed.


 COMMENT 377118P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 12:19 PM

Some plants within same genus fare better than others with extreme temps. My one Brugmansia is looking a little stressed, thanks to the frost, while the other looks like it is ready to call it quits.

This is due to low temperatures. Call Island Seed & Feed or some local palm grower and ask what supplements you can feed these stressed out palms. I don't know about the iron. Call first.


 COMMENT 377121 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 12:33 PM

First order of business is to prune off the completely brown spears. I would clip off other brown bits, but make sure to leave all the green. The green is necessary for photosynthesis.

Most sites recommend that you then spray with copper fungicide. I personally avoid using any material that ends in "cide," as this means you would be using something deadly and harmful to the environment.

I agree with 118P, call Island Seed at 967-5262 or email: islandseed@earthlink.net and ask their advice. They know how to fix this organically and keep you and your plant healthy. (Make sure you talk with Matt or Brant, if you call.)


 COMMENT 377159 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 01:19 PM

Don't trim anything until danger of frost has past. The foliage protects the rest of the plants and the roots and trimming them now will only stress them further.


 COMMENT 377289 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 08:00 PM

Looks like damage from the cold weather. If possible put some burlap or plastic over/around it next time it's going to freezing.


 COMMENT 377322P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-21 11:06 PM

keeping them watered will protect from frost damage.


 COMMENT 377325P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-22 12:15 AM

322P is right.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-22 07:33 AM

I agree with the "don't trim now" advice, wait until it's warmer; that seems to be the experts advice for all plants & trees. I'd also talk with a palm tree expert so as not to make any mistakes. Island Feed and Seed is a good place to start. Listen to Garden Gossip today, Friday, at 11am, 1290. You can call in and ask Chris Cullen about the palm; he's always glad to answer questions.


 COMMENT 377414 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-22 09:34 AM

I had similar problems with many plants not just palms following periods of substantial cold (32 degrees or less for 8 hours or more) The most vivid example I saw was in Los Alamos after a significant cold spell of temps into the low 20s and high teens a few years ago. The motel on the North side of the freeway up on the hill had a row of palm trees lining the driveway all the way up the hill. They all completely browned out from the cold but I think they eventually recovered


 COMMENT 377429P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-22 09:43 AM

looks like a Pigmy Date Palm? they're not very cold hardy--and yes, that looks like frost damage--nor do they like full sun or exposure to wind.

Palms are of many genuses (groups) and come from many tropic or semi tropical areas of the world, so adressing general "palm" problems as far as their environment is not very productive.

Suggest you take some fronds in a plastic bag (in case they have some 'visitors') along with a baggie of a soil sample to Terra Sol. They can help you identify the genus and species, and help address any problems with suitablility for the exposure within your yard and neighborhood. (Pigmy Date Palms tip burn in peristent wind, whereas the Queen Palms so ubiquitous here, don't mind) About 10 years ago local Costcos had some big multi PDP's that it sold by the truckload, so they are everywhere within the coastal zone, suffering silently.


 COMMENT 377712 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-22 08:04 PM

One year we had an early unexpected frost in Fresno, and of 25 mature sago palms I had in tubs, all suffered frost damage which "whited" them right down to the nut. My nursery expert advised to leave them alone until spring, when new growth appeared. Then I was to cut back the damaged fronds. Worked like a charm, and only one died permanently. Good luck!


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