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Phoenix Sylvester Palm Problem

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hey guys, im really trying to find some answers to why this palm is not look good.

i had my palm guy come out and look at it and he said, if it was his he wouldnt do anything to it, it looks fine, but i beg to differ.

i told him i thought it was planted to low, he said he could raise it, but said it wouldnt make much difference.

anyway, my PH is roughly 6.5ish. soil is crap clay. its always soaking wet and heavy heavy.Ive added several fertalizers and food to the palm with no improvements.

also, it is not producing fruit or stalks at all, and my other one is, well to an extent, they just die of as soon has they form.

here is a pic.

As you can barely see, the new growth stunted almost completley, the try overal shape almost looks like and upside down V, with the new stuff being lowest

04171838.jpg

also here is a pick of the tree when it was first planted and healthy with fruit.

DSC00612.jpg

Edited by diggman08
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here is a pic of my other one, that seems healthier and growing

04171840A.jpg

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I have seen a few like this in my neighborhood. Mine is not like either of these, it glows a light silver/blue green and is planted in very high drainage sand and palm mix, and not much(2") above grade. I suspect the problem is the clay combined with regular sprinkler water. The high planting cant solve every problem, though your better looking sylvestris is planted higher. Clay soils that are frequently watered never experience a dry cycle. Landscapers around here also plant them high to compensate for the clay and planting them in the middle of a lawn. I have learned that there are a handfull of species that tolerate being wet all the time, and sylvestris wont be happy that way. When I put a palm in clay I get the pick axe out and ammend, then I watch it to see if its too wet. I recently shut off a sprinkler valve near one of my other palm species to prevent this condiditon and its responding very well, it likes a dry cycle. the palm had been languishing and I found an underground "clay bar" between it and the house. SO I made a "dry garden"(killed all the grass) gehind the palm so it wouldnt be constantly wet. I would consider digging up the area around it and ammending, or raising it in a raised bed planter. Neither of those palms looks particularly happy....

Edited by sonoranfans
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Diggman,

How long has it been since it's been planted? Was it field dug or planted out of a box? First you were worried about your Queen palm, which looks fine, now you're worried about your Phoenix, which your palm guy says looks fine. I can see from your yard that you enjoy a highly manicured look. I appreciate that and it looks great! But I think you need to relax brother, enjoy the beauty of the trees, brown tips and all. It's hard to tell from your picture but I only see an overpruned palm with some minor tip burn due to recent transplanting. Plants need to grow some roots to thrive. Give it some time to do so.

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sonor fan, most inciteful response ive gotten in a while man, thanks

mattb, i apprectiate your outlook on it and all, but if you saw it in person you would not be saying it needs time. It definetly needs something. just not fully sure what

it looks great in the picture compared to standing right in front of it. trust me i wouldnt just make it up.

sonorfan, i really feel like you hit the nail on the head. I agree and it is hard to water the yard with sprinkler without getting the palm watered also

it hasnt rained in over month here, and if i stuck my handdown into the soil a few inches it would be soaked wet heavy clayish soil, and thats just about 6" imagine 2 ft down

Do you think if i get it raised about 12" and then ammended the soil around it and down about 12" on the sides, (removing alot of the clay and adding manure,leaves,sand,compost)?

maybe some root stimulator also down in the mix

thanks for advice guys ( ill get some better pics of center soon)

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How long since it's been planted? I'm assuming that it was a field dug specimine because it's so large. I would expect the palm to look shabby due to transplant shock. Not sure how that works in Florida though. So it looks worse than the pic. OK. No matter what you do, add nutrients, raise planting level, etc., it's gonna take a few years to shape up. Just sayin'.

So you've got clay soil and the palm is planted in the lawn which is a problem because it gets watered with the lawn. If your soil is so soaking wet just a few inches down then can't you just not water so much? Can you train your grass roots to go deep so you only have to water once every week or two? I know you can do that here, even with our extremely low humidity at times, and still have a lawn that looks good. Can you adjust your sprinklers down so that the grass area near the palms doesn't get any direct water? Clay transmits water laterally with capillary action so even the grass you didn't water directly could get the water it needs. What about expanding the circular border/planter? I like the dry garden idea of Tom's, in a circle around the palm. Sounds like that palm can go down and get the water it needs without being watered directly.

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planted about 1 year ago and it is field grown

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05021805.jpg

05021803-1.jpg

05031756.jpg

05021800.jpg

Edited by diggman08
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sonor fan, most inciteful response ive gotten in a while man, thanks

mattb, i apprectiate your outlook on it and all, but if you saw it in person you would not be saying it needs time. It definetly needs something. just not fully sure what

it looks great in the picture compared to standing right in front of it. trust me i wouldnt just make it up.

sonorfan, i really feel like you hit the nail on the head. I agree and it is hard to water the yard with sprinkler without getting the palm watered also

it hasnt rained in over month here, and if i stuck my handdown into the soil a few inches it would be soaked wet heavy clayish soil, and thats just about 6" imagine 2 ft down

Do you think if i get it raised about 12" and then ammended the soil around it and down about 12" on the sides, (removing alot of the clay and adding manure,leaves,sand,compost)?

maybe some root stimulator also down in the mix

thanks for advice guys ( ill get some better pics of center soon)

Sounds like a good approach, raising it and ammending. Be sure to use plenty of sand(1/3-1/2) as the humus will be consumed and just leave you with clay again. I would dig that sucker out to a radius of about 2' from the edge of the rootball. There is also a clay breaker called SDS, sodium dodecyl sulfate(or sodium laurel sulfate, another name). I bought 1 gallon for $13 over the internet. Once you have a nice well around the rootzone, add 2 oz SDS per gallon of water in a can and treat with 3-4 gasllons when the root zone is dry. Floowl that with a slow soaker hose drip for 3-4 hours. Do this 2-3 times weekly and drainage below the root zone should improve. You should see the field grown sysvestris in my neighborhood in clay, 4-5 fronds vs one year ago when planted with 20 or so. Some of these landscapers dont want to tell you the bad news, that you must seriously ammend the soil to get that thing to grow right. Part of the reason is that some people would insist they do it at no cost or else they wont buy the tree. Good luck and let us know what happens.

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sonor fan, most inciteful response ive gotten in a while man, thanks

mattb, i apprectiate your outlook on it and all, but if you saw it in person you would not be saying it needs time. It definetly needs something. just not fully sure what

it looks great in the picture compared to standing right in front of it. trust me i wouldnt just make it up.

sonorfan, i really feel like you hit the nail on the head. I agree and it is hard to water the yard with sprinkler without getting the palm watered also

it hasnt rained in over month here, and if i stuck my handdown into the soil a few inches it would be soaked wet heavy clayish soil, and thats just about 6" imagine 2 ft down

Do you think if i get it raised about 12" and then ammended the soil around it and down about 12" on the sides, (removing alot of the clay and adding manure,leaves,sand,compost)?

maybe some root stimulator also down in the mix

thanks for advice guys ( ill get some better pics of center soon)

Sounds like a good approach, raising it and ammending. Be sure to use plenty of sand(1/3-1/2) as the humus will be consumed and just leave you with clay again. I would dig that sucker out to a radius of about 2' from the edge of the rootball. There is also a clay breaker called SDS, sodium dodecyl sulfate(or sodium laurel sulfate, another name). I bought 1 gallon for $13 over the internet. Once you have a nice well around the rootzone, add 2 oz SDS per gallon of water in a can and treat with 3-4 gasllons when the root zone is dry. Floowl that with a slow soaker hose drip for 3-4 hours. Do this 2-3 times weekly and drainage below the root zone should improve. You should see the field grown sysvestris in my neighborhood in clay, 4-5 fronds vs one year ago when planted with 20 or so. Some of these landscapers dont want to tell you the bad news, that you must seriously ammend the soil to get that thing to grow right. Part of the reason is that some people would insist they do it at no cost or else they wont buy the tree. Good luck and let us know what happens.

SDS is a detergent, is it really a good idea to pour it around a plant? It seems like it would damage the microbiota in the soil...

-Krishna

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sonor fan, most inciteful response ive gotten in a while man, thanks

mattb, i apprectiate your outlook on it and all, but if you saw it in person you would not be saying it needs time. It definetly needs something. just not fully sure what

it looks great in the picture compared to standing right in front of it. trust me i wouldnt just make it up.

sonorfan, i really feel like you hit the nail on the head. I agree and it is hard to water the yard with sprinkler without getting the palm watered also

it hasnt rained in over month here, and if i stuck my handdown into the soil a few inches it would be soaked wet heavy clayish soil, and thats just about 6" imagine 2 ft down

Do you think if i get it raised about 12" and then ammended the soil around it and down about 12" on the sides, (removing alot of the clay and adding manure,leaves,sand,compost)?

maybe some root stimulator also down in the mix

thanks for advice guys ( ill get some better pics of center soon)

Sounds like a good approach, raising it and ammending. Be sure to use plenty of sand(1/3-1/2) as the humus will be consumed and just leave you with clay again. I would dig that sucker out to a radius of about 2' from the edge of the rootball. There is also a clay breaker called SDS, sodium dodecyl sulfate(or sodium laurel sulfate, another name). I bought 1 gallon for $13 over the internet. Once you have a nice well around the rootzone, add 2 oz SDS per gallon of water in a can and treat with 3-4 gasllons when the root zone is dry. Floowl that with a slow soaker hose drip for 3-4 hours. Do this 2-3 times weekly and drainage below the root zone should improve. You should see the field grown sysvestris in my neighborhood in clay, 4-5 fronds vs one year ago when planted with 20 or so. Some of these landscapers dont want to tell you the bad news, that you must seriously ammend the soil to get that thing to grow right. Part of the reason is that some people would insist they do it at no cost or else they wont buy the tree. Good luck and let us know what happens.

SDS is a detergent, is it really a good idea to pour it around a plant? It seems like it would damage the microbiota in the soil...

-Krishna

SDS is a surfactant, its sold commercially as a product "Aerify" by "natureslawn" for much more money($60 gallon), I have used it for 6-7 years on palms in arizona and here with good results. People who use grey water are essentially doing the same thing but with more than just the surfactant. I would be sure to dilute to 1-2 oz per gallon, apply and then water in with a long, slow soaker treatment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_dodecyl_sulfate

Edited by sonoranfans
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P sylvestris thrives on our heavy clayey loams here, so I don't think a heavy soil is a problem. Your leaves are being held up well and are quite turgid so the root system also seems fine. For all you know, replanting it will send the plant into another transplantation shock. Why not wait another half-year ? There is no reason why it should not improve.

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Mike,

You might be able to dig a trench around the palm and ammend soil in the trench if you provide a path for the water runoff to the lower drainage surfaces I noted in your pic. think french drain with sand, this might mitigate the drainage problems and not require replanting. You clay does not look loamy to me, looks like construction clay.

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Your in MS? what was your low this year? The older fronds look like frost bite to me. New shoots are shorter may be due to full sun. I planted a larger one several years ago to replace one at the entrance of my driveway. It took 3 years for it to do anything. Be patient and relax.

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I like the trench/french drain idea. I don't like the raising it up idea, just because I think it's too much unnecessary work. That exploritory hole looks like there's roots right near the surface which tells me that the palm is not planted too low at least. Your new leaves do look stunted but I've seen that before with large Phoenix transplants and they recover and look beautiful after a few years. Considering it was a large field grown palm transplanted a year ago, I still say just wait a few years and it'll be fine. I don't think you need to do anything.

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sonor fan, most inciteful response ive gotten in a while man, thanks

mattb, i apprectiate your outlook on it and all, but if you saw it in person you would not be saying it needs time. It definetly needs something. just not fully sure what

it looks great in the picture compared to standing right in front of it. trust me i wouldnt just make it up.

sonorfan, i really feel like you hit the nail on the head. I agree and it is hard to water the yard with sprinkler without getting the palm watered also

it hasnt rained in over month here, and if i stuck my handdown into the soil a few inches it would be soaked wet heavy clayish soil, and thats just about 6" imagine 2 ft down

Do you think if i get it raised about 12" and then ammended the soil around it and down about 12" on the sides, (removing alot of the clay and adding manure,leaves,sand,compost)?

maybe some root stimulator also down in the mix

thanks for advice guys ( ill get some better pics of center soon)

Sounds like a good approach, raising it and ammending. Be sure to use plenty of sand(1/3-1/2) as the humus will be consumed and just leave you with clay again. I would dig that sucker out to a radius of about 2' from the edge of the rootball. There is also a clay breaker called SDS, sodium dodecyl sulfate(or sodium laurel sulfate, another name). I bought 1 gallon for $13 over the internet. Once you have a nice well around the rootzone, add 2 oz SDS per gallon of water in a can and treat with 3-4 gasllons when the root zone is dry. Floowl that with a slow soaker hose drip for 3-4 hours. Do this 2-3 times weekly and drainage below the root zone should improve. You should see the field grown sysvestris in my neighborhood in clay, 4-5 fronds vs one year ago when planted with 20 or so. Some of these landscapers dont want to tell you the bad news, that you must seriously ammend the soil to get that thing to grow right. Part of the reason is that some people would insist they do it at no cost or else they wont buy the tree. Good luck and let us know what happens.

SDS is a detergent, is it really a good idea to pour it around a plant? It seems like it would damage the microbiota in the soil...

-Krishna

SDS is a surfactant, its sold commercially as a product "Aerify" by "natureslawn" for much more money($60 gallon), I have used it for 6-7 years on palms in arizona and here with good results. People who use grey water are essentially doing the same thing but with more than just the surfactant. I would be sure to dilute to 1-2 oz per gallon, apply and then water in with a long, slow soaker treatment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_dodecyl_sulfate

All I know is that it is commonly used in labs to denature proteins and such. I have never tried it (dont have the soil structure that needs it) but I'll take your experience on it. Was just curious as to if it damages the microbial communities in the soil. If you dilute it to the amount you are saying, you are probably right about it not being much different than grey water.

Thanks for the info!

-Krishna

-Krishna

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i dont know if i want to add chemicals like that. but i heard dish soaps works good for that

probably muc milder

thanks for all the great advice guys,, its encouraging, i have decided to probably wait to raise it, im going to try some other things first and leave that as a last resort.. but still a chance that i will roll the dice and just raise it, probably dont want to wait too long, before the roots do start growing in good

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i dont know if i want to add chemicals like that. but i heard dish soaps works good for that

probably muc milder

thanks for all the great advice guys,, its encouraging, i have decided to probably wait to raise it, im going to try some other things first and leave that as a last resort.. but still a chance that i will roll the dice and just raise it, probably dont want to wait too long, before the roots do start growing in good

Im pretty sure most shampoos have sodium lauryl sulfate in them :)

-Krishna

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I have had palms feild grown and container grown shorten up like this. The new growth will come out stunted and gradually the new fronds will get larger. And this is common with Phoenix sylvesteris. It looks like the leaflet tips got nipped by the cold. I would leave it be. I think alot of problems are caused by grower trying to correct little imperfections. Alot of palms not only do well but thrive on some neglect ot some degree.It looks fine, just putting in my 2 cents.

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i dont know if i want to add chemicals like that. but i heard dish soaps works good for that

probably muc milder

thanks for all the great advice guys,, its encouraging, i have decided to probably wait to raise it, im going to try some other things first and leave that as a last resort.. but still a chance that i will roll the dice and just raise it, probably dont want to wait too long, before the roots do start growing in good

It is used in lower concentrations in toothpastes, shampoos, and shaving foams. It is an important component in bubble bath formulations for its thickening effect and its ability to create a lather. It may harm some microbes, but it is applied so infrequently I dont expect that to be a problem. I always follow it with humic acid,which encourages microbial growth and kills harmful nematodes.

SDS is likely less harmful than much of what goes into most NPK fertilizer, which is not approved for in skin contact by the FDA. I also suspect that construction soil has lots of junk in it that you would not like to know about. I apply SDS in low concentration 2x a year to areas with stubborn drainage problems. After a couple years(4 applications) the application can be discontinued since in most cases the roots will take over and penetrate the soil.

I think you should consider the french drain idea over raising the palm. Raising the palm will cause more root dieoff, it is likely to get worse before it gets better. Recovery could be a year longer(not this year). With a french drain concept, you will not disturb the roots much.

All the "field grown" sylvestris in my neighborhood look like crap. Some are 2 years in the ground, and all are above grade in clay that has little or no loam in it. My 5 footer(overall), planted from a 2' 5 gallon last june has at least 2x as many fronds as any of the field grown ones here that have 4-6' of trunk and all were planted before mine. And the field grown ones have this yellow/brown tinge to their green fronds, no blue or silver is obvious. When you take a pick axe to the clay we have here, it takes the shape of the blade and comes out in chunks 4-8" long stuck to the pick axe blade. You have to bang it off the pick axe, and some of it doesnt come off without extra scraping. Breaking it up is difficult. Drop it on the ground from 4' and the chunks dont break even, you have to use muscle to break it up with your hands, and some wont even break then. this is the kind of grey/brown clay I am talking about, not to be confused with loamy clay...

Any way good luck with your sylvestris....

Edited by sonoranfans
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That's some nasty clay!

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I had a canary do this when it was planted to low in the soil. I didn't realize it until I dug out the dead palm, after it's slow death, and discovered about 10" of trunk was buried under the soil. Oops.

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yeah , the palm dude is coming tomorow, and I HAVE DECIDED TO RAISE IT, and they are going to work sand down around it, to fill the voids. he said hes using sand from his lot, which im assuming it like beach sand, Should i go waste my money on some Sharp sand, or just let him use what he has,in that it wont make much a difference?? thanks

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yeah , the palm dude is coming tomorow, and I HAVE DECIDED TO RAISE IT, and they are going to work sand down around it, to fill the voids. he said hes using sand from his lot, which im assuming it like beach sand, Should i go waste my money on some Sharp sand, or just let him use what he has,in that it wont make much a difference?? thanks

I wouldnt bother with special sand, but I might throw in some organic material if you plant to raise to at least 4" or so. I also would still consider a french drain to the low spot, it will only help things.

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ok guys, so ended up not raising it, for one, the palm guys didnt show up till almost dark, so by the time the planted my Washy, and straitened the queen up, it was almost dark and the termites started swarming sooooo, WE DID NOT RAISE THE SYLVESTER.

i have some pics here.. what i ended up doing was digging all the clay out around the entire circle, down around the root ball, i did break up some roots, but had to to get the clay out. its was probably 8 wheel barrels full to the top of the that heavy wet crud. (BTW, THE CLAY MOUND WAS ABOUT 6-8" ABOVE THE TOP OF ROOT BALL, AND COVERING DEAD WOOD OF TRUNK A LITTLE)

next, i poked holes into the soil, and added some BIORUSH(michorrizal fungi), and some palm transplant bio stuff,fert, liquid palm nutrition,etc.

then, i added 6 50lbs bags of coarse sand, 2 bags of Mushroom compost, 2bags of black kow, 1 bag topsoil w/peat, and 1 bag Humus. then tilled back in a little of the clay that was there before.

well tell me what you think guys,, got my fingers crossed, dont know what else i can do from here.

05151609a.jpg

05151615.jpg

ALL CLAY REMOVED

05151710.jpg

THEN WITH NEW SOIL ADDED

05151843.jpg

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??

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??

Good luck, I have never dug at the roots like that. Sylvestris have a rep for rapid root growth, so I wouldnt worry about it. When you have drainage issues usually its not the top of the root zone that has a problem... Keep us posted...

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It's like you're poking a bear. It's gonna poke back if you mess with it too much.

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it was clear as i was digging out the clay, that it was mounded up way to high around the base. so if anything i helped it in that way.. im hoping the organic matter and sand all play a benificial role, i dont think i did anything that would hurt the tree. maybe piss if off a little for cuttin few of his roots.

do you think i need more sand on top? or keep the mound shallow like i have it? thanks

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I find the idea of sand on top of clay a bit strange - won't it wash away soon? I do the reverse, when putting plants into a pot or the ground I keep a layer of sand at the bottom for faster drainage but in my experience, the effect of wind and rain and human watering (not to mention walking around) hastens the rate at which the sand at the top is dissipated. There is also a marginal concern that the washed away sand exposes the lower parts of the stem.

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Can you try a piece of landscape fabric or plastic cut to size, then cover with mulch? This way the water will just wash away to the sides, leaving the immediate area around the rootball the driest.

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I have two of these, each about 12' tall. They LOVE clay. I have never seen any Phoenix palm grow like these did. I planted them 4 years ago bareroot when they were about 1ft tall. I would not add sand. Just give them a chance to get adjusted. They will take off.

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lack of Boron

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