Lady palm, what am I doing wrong

26 posts in this topic

Hello, I got this lady palm for free at a garden center because of how unhealthy it was. The leaves haven't changed and I've had it for a hear and a half now.

The leaves have this green-yellow look to them. I have repotted it when I got it and I made the error of going too large of a pot size because of how pot bound it was but apparently they like it like that. Anyway, the leaves have not turned that deeper shade of green as you can see in the older leaves.

I've been watering every 2 weeks because of the large pot size but the leaves still look like it has been too dry from the look of the leave tips.

I feel like I'm doing something wrong.

Any suggestions?

palm1.jpg

palm2.jpg

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The pot size does not look too big.  Maybe others are aware to the contrary, but I have never heard of a palm preferring to be root bound.

It looks like the palm needs more water.  When you water, do you water thoroughly so the water drains out the bottom of the pot?

Rather than being on a schedule, just use your finger to test the moisture level.  If it is dry on top, give it a good soaking.

As for the leaf color, hard to tell exactly what is going on.  But three possibilities come to mind. Iron deficiency, nitrogen deficiency or a pest infestation.  Look at the under side of the leaves and look for possible spider mites.  If you do fertilize, for potted palms, I would recommend using a time release synthetic.

Hope at least some of this reply is helpful. 

Welcome to PT!

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4 hours ago, Hammer said:

The pot size does not look too big.  Maybe others are aware to the contrary, but I have never heard of a palm preferring to be root bound.

It looks like the palm needs more water.  When you water, do you water thoroughly so the water drains out the bottom of the pot?

Rather than being on a schedule, just use your finger to test the moisture level.  If it is dry on top, give it a good soaking.

As for the leaf color, hard to tell exactly what is going on.  But three possibilities come to mind. Iron deficiency, nitrogen deficiency or a pest infestation.  Look at the under side of the leaves and look for possible spider mites.  If you do fertilize, for potted palms, I would recommend using a time release synthetic.

Hope at least some of this reply is helpful. 

Welcome to PT!

Thank you for you reply. I do water it until he comes out the bottom but I don't think I'm doing it thoroughly. What I'm going to do it buy a lifted plant caddy so I can put a bowl under it and give it a good even watering. It's way to heavy for me to lift and move so I just stop watering when I see a bit of water come from the bottom. 

i just bought the slow release ferilizer and waiting for it to arrive since it's coming from the US. I couldn't find palm fertilizer in Toronto... who would have though ;) lol 

I have checked the plant and there is no insect infestation so I'm leaning on the side it's a nutrient deficiency. Let hope the palm gain fertilizer I bought helps. I plan on using half strength because lady palms grow soooo slow.

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Rhapis palms need very fast draining soils, so that you can water them regularly without getting a soggy soil. Since you have repotted it into a container which seems to be too big the soil becomes soggy when you water it regularly or it becomes too dry when you wait with watering. I would repot it into a smaller container and use a very fast draining mineral rich soil so that you can water the palm more often. But Rhapis palms don’t like wet feet. Your palm looks to me like a Rhapis subtilis.

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1 hour ago, Pal Meir said:

Rhapis palms need very fast draining soils, so that you can water them regularly without getting a soggy soil. Since you have repotted it into a container which seems to be too big the soil becomes soggy when you water it regularly or it becomes too dry when you wait with watering. I would repot it into a smaller container and use a very fast draining mineral rich soil so that you can water the palm more often. But Rhapis palms don’t like wet feet. Your palm looks to me like a Rhapis subtilis.

Okay, I'm confused now, Hammer said the pot size is fine and you're saying it too large. I went about 3 sizes up from the last pot. so it was severely root bound in an 8 inch pot and i put it in a 14 in pot... like a fool lol. Should i go to a 10 or 12 inch pot since its been in there for almost 2 years now?

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It would be safer to use a container one number smaller. But more important seems to be that you use a faster draining mineral rich soil mix like e.g. this one:

5911d5af71e15_SoilP102086768.thumb.jpg.2

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Pal Meir knows his palms. Whether you can find the materials he recommends I don't know. They aren't available locally here. If not, look for a fast draining organic garden soil that contains coarser materials like bark, etc. You can also add additional orchid bark and perlite. Don't use the cheap potting mix for houseplants. It turns to black sludge when wet and can cause palm roots to rot. 

Other thoughts: Your plant likely has nutritional deficiencies but fertilize carefully even with specialist fertilizer. More and more often are not necessarily better. As you live in Canada, your house is likely too cold, too dry and too dark for most palms, even sold-as-houseplants Rhapis. The good thing is you are heading into summer. If you can, let your palm go outside in the shade to get natural light and summer rainfall. In winter, place pot next to a south- or west-facing window. If that's not possible, provide supplemental light. Let it have a period of warmth - if your house is consistently below 20C for months that's a problem. Try to keep humidity above 50-60% in the room where your palm stays. This species comes from a very humid part of the world. Set the pot on a tray of rocks and water to boost humidity. Also, giving it a tepid shower in the bathroom every few days helps too. I've hear of people who, after they've taken a hot shower, place their palm in the steamy bathroom and shut the door so it can enjoy the heat and humidity.

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6 hours ago, SilverMissy said:

Okay, I'm confused now, Hammer said the pot size is fine and you're saying it too large. I went about 3 sizes up from the last pot. so it was severely root bound in an 8 inch pot and i put it in a 14 in pot... like a fool lol. Should i go to a 10 or 12 inch pot since its been in there for almost 2 years now?

Okay, So i just got home and started to dig the palm out. What I've discovered through my excavation :P

1) Just as you said, half the root system at the top is dry and the bottom is soggy and really compacted. 

2) Water was not evenly being distributed.

3) root system is only 8 inches so a 10-12"  pot would be fine. The rooted just grew downward so they're super long so i may give them a trim to fit the new pot I'm going to grab.

 

I'm going to mix orchid bark and more perlite into the soil so give it more aeration. Would that be sufficient? I don't have the media you listed in the picture, here.

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Posted (edited)

So I repotted it into a 12" pot. Made a potting mix of 3 parts potting soil, 1 part perlite, 1 part orchid bark. It drains much quicker now and it much more aerated. I also trimmed about an inch off the ends of the roots so it fit the pot. Overall, I think it looks a lot better but I'll leave you guys to judge since you're the experts.

 59125a0c284f0_newpalm.thumb.jpg.58f7bbc4

 

 

Edited by SilverMissy
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Pal is right.  If the new pot is three sizes bigger that is probably too much.  That said palms don't prefer to be root bound. ...unless you are intending to "bonsai" the palm.

As for using Palm Gain...excellent product.  Buuuuutttt be careful in the application.  It is NOT slow release.  I have burned two palms recently that are in the ground.

If possible,  I would avoid trimming roots on palms.  

Whereabouts are you in Toronto?  I happen to be in town this week for a trade show!

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I really didn't want to trim the roots but it wouldn't fit in pot size smaller. It wasn't much so I hope it will be okay. It needed out of the other pot it was way to large for it. 

Im just outside of Toronto in Oakville. 

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In the future, try to avoid trimming palm roots if you can. I don't know about Rhapis spp but some palms are very root sensitive and respond badly to root disturbance. Good that you repotted it in better draining mix. Do keep in mind the temperature, light and humidity issues, esp, this coming winter. As for feeding, look into a time release fertilizer like nutricote. You use it every few months.

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36 minutes ago, PalmatierMeg said:

In the future, try to avoid trimming palm roots if you can. I don't know about Rhapis spp but some palms are very root sensitive and respond badly to root disturbance. Good that you repotted it in better draining mix. Do keep in mind the temperature, light and humidity issues, esp, this coming winter. As for feeding, look into a time release fertilizer like nutricote. You use it every few months.

I've read that lady palms a propagated through root division so let hope with my little trim nothing bad happens... I'll keep you guys posted. thanks everyone for the replies!

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I've split many rhapis.

Should be fine. Water with seasol or similar for root establishment. And let the top inch or two dry out before watering again. 

Give it nice bright defused light. 

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Sounds like you are on the right track.   While I don't really like pruning roots of most palms (though there are a few that can take that without much issue) I have to agree that Rhapis don't seem to mind root disturbance terribly.  Most are suckers cut from mother plants and dug out and potted up (after they have establish their own root system) and do just fine.  

As for Palm gain, I just got some myself. It is known to be a great product. I have friends that use it with much success.  For me, I usually only use HALF the recommended dosage quoted for any particular sized pot.  Maybe slightly more than that, but definitely not the full amount recommended.  I do this as to err on the side of caution.  I can always add more in small amounts later, as opposed to using too much and burn the palm.   Keep us posted!  Welcome to Palm Talk! 

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So everything has been good so far but today I noticed seed looking things coming out. It has never done that before... Don't know if thats a good sign or just regular occurance of a lady palm?

image.jpg

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It’s flowering! That’s a good sign that the plant is feeling happy. :D

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Definitely looks happier. You won't get viable seeds. Rhapis have sexes on separate plants.

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On 5/21/2017, 9:48:45, SilverMissy said:

So everything has been good so far but today I noticed seed looking things coming out. It has never done that before... Don't know if thats a good sign or just regular occurance of a lady palm?

image.jpg

YAY!  Its happy!   Whatever you are doing it is loving it.  Just keep on keeping on now and it should do just fine.  Congrats! 

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On 5/21/2017, 9:48:45, SilverMissy said:

So everything has been good so far but today I noticed seed looking things coming out. It has never done that before... Don't know if thats a good sign or just regular occurance of a lady palm?

image.jpg

Another update, please!

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We have one in the garden and has looked like that for 20 years.

Ours is probably a bad micro environment, we were told?  probably?

Or a badly draining part of the garden, although that is hard to imagine, when looking at it.

it is over 2 metres tall, and every leaf is always half dead.

I hope that you have more luck.

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On 5/21/2017, 10:48:45, SilverMissy said:

So everything has been good so far but today I noticed seed looking things coming out. It has never done that before... Don't know if thats a good sign or just regular occurance of a lady palm?

image.jpg

How are the leaf tips now that a few months have passed? I'm curious how the repotting and new soil affected the rhapis, and how quickly. A pic or two please.

JT

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On 8/24/2017, 6:38:09, JT in Japan said:

How are the leaf tips now that a few months have passed? I'm curious how the repotting and new soil affected the rhapis, and how quickly. A pic or two please.

JT

I'm curious too!  Keep us posted and post pics! 

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Not sure if I see too much of improvement but they are slow growing plants. I did notice the leaves a slightly greener so the fertilizer worked. I put it outside for the summer.

 

image.jpg

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Before:

 

after:

 

69AAA3A8-EEFC-4018-B1A7-9F08449ADBA7.jpeg

15D153EA-202A-4494-A699-0C9AB21D4911.jpeg

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