Help! My plant is dying

30 posts in this topic

Hi all!

 

I am having some problems with my plant (which I think is a howea forsteriana?) and wondered if anyone could help?! 

 

The leaves are turning brown and drying up - please see pictures, are there any giveaway signs of the problem ? Have owned for around 5 months, re-potted on day 1, water around once a week when soil becomes dry, was positioned by a single glaze window in a bright room but have since moved as it can get pretty cold by that window during the night but not usually below 15 celcius. Any advice would be much appreciated!

 

I would also like to remove the dead leaves and stems but not sure how to go about this, I don’t want to upset the plant even more.. can the dying stems simply be cut or is it best to leave them? Thank you !

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Hi Rafi,

your palm is a Dypsis lutescens, a very common palm. Unfortunately it's not the best for indoors in winter time. I already lost two or three because of wrong care. It needs higher humidity, a good draining soil, frequent watering and a very bright place. Depending on your micro-climate watering once a week might be not enough. Also spraying in order to increase the humidity might help.

I often think that also the big number of plants in one pot might be critical. Now I have a single plant and it looks way better than all before.

Hope you can rescue it.

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Try not to sir it in water,and let it dry out substantially before rewatering.

Give it Bright intense light to part sun.

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How long has your palm been in that pot and potting mix? If more than 2-3 years you may need to repot it in a new pot with new potting mix that is very well draining. If you can't do that I suggest you place pot in the bathtub and give it a shower to flush excess salts out of the soil. That clay pot looks like it is coated with residual salts from previous waterings and fertilizer. Fertilize it 2-3x per year with a time release fertilizer with micronutrients, not the blue granular stuff. If you repot, don't use cheap potting soil that turns to black muck. I agree this palm needs more light. Your home is probably too dry and too cold too. Dypsis lutescens is a clumping palm but is also sold commercially by jamming multiple seedlings into one pot to fight for survival. Likely the dying ones are the weaker ones. This species would be so much more attractive if it were grown seed by seed and allowed to cluster naturally.

Welcome to PalmTalk

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Margret,

you're so right. It's hard to see the Dypsis and Chamaedorea palms jailed into a small pot in big groups. I now have single plants of each and they do much better than before.

A friend had a Chamaedorea elegans with around 20 small plants together and today only 5 are still alive. But that's commerce...

Eckhard

 

 

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Rafi, Sorry about your palm, but Welcome to Palmtalk ! :)

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Thanks everyone for all the information!

I’ve only owned the plant for about 5 months, I repotted it on day 1 (purely to swap the plastic pot for a nicer one) so used the same soil.. the pot was an old one I picked up from the dump so sort of looked like that already really !

I think everyone is right - it’s too cold and dry and perhaps not enough light.. it’s generally around 50% humidity in the room it’s currently in so have started to mist daily..

So just to clarify, should the soil always be kept moist or should I allow to dry completely between watering? Also, is it okay to cut the dead stems and leaves off ?

Thanks again, I hope I can save it !

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Dypsis lutescens comes from Madagascar and needs warmer temps, higher humidity and more light than you are currently giving it. This species does well in FL's high heat & humidity (50% humidity is on the low side here) but struggles in CA's dry mediterranean climate. You would actually have a better chance with a Howea, which is a from a cool, oceanic climate and can deal better with chilly, low light conditions. That said, D.l. does not like sitting in cold, wet soil and can develop root rot and fungal diseases. Rather than water it on a predetermined schedule, water thoroughly when soil feels dry an 1" or 2" deep, then let pot drain in sink or tub. Never let it sit long term in a tray of leftover water. Give palm more light, heat & humidity. Rather than misting constantly, which some members here object to, consider setting up a nearby humidifier or set pot on a tray of rocks and water to raise ambient humidity.

If the palm/s come back and continue to grow, I suggest you invest in two slightly larger pots, new potting mix, then unpot the cluster and carefully separate the plants into two groups to replant. You will end up two pots of less crowded individual palms with better chances of survival.

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Those photos look to me like your palm has root rot.  I see leaves dying but it doesn't look to me like the classic signs of low humidity and under watering.  

Looks like too much water, too little light, not enough warmth as others have said.  That combo is rotting the roots along with a soil that probably is not well draining enough. 

I would drench the soil with hydrogen peroxide, increase the heat if at all possible, let the palm dry out more between waterings...and especially so after the peroxide drench. The roots need to heal. Buy a high quality cactus mix and pot up in the looser soil after it has dried from the soil drench.  More light.

Humidity will be much less of a factor if you could water more.  But you can't do that until or unless the rot is addressed. Warmth and better soil are the key to that long term.

Good luck and please keep us updated. 

 

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I agree with @Hammer, @Rafi.

The key characteristic that Hammer picked up on was the graying dead leaves. That means that they aren't getting water, which often means rot somewhere.

Rafi, does the pot containing your palm have a hole in it? Given that it's standing in a saucer, it likely does, but tip it up and check and see it's not clogged. If it is, unclog it.

Dypsis lutescens (also called "Areca" or "butterfly palm" or "golden cane palm") needs a lot of light, and good drainage above all else. They HATE standing in water.

I see you're in the UK. I used to live in Ohio, in the northern United States, and it gets and stays cold and dark all winter, and some plants hate that. Try to move your plant to near a window to get light (but not too close, if it's cold), or, even better, put it under "strip lights" i.e., flourescent lights.

Let us know how it goes, keep telling us.

When you can keep them happy, palms make some of the best indoor plants. PT members @Funkthulhu, @Ilovepalm and many others can show you!

Cheers!

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@Rafi Yes, as friends wrote - more light, you sprinkle the palm. You water so that the soil is always moist (finger method). And necessarily transplant to a larger palm tree pot (high and narrow). I recommend you a mixture of coconut fiber with perlite or vermiculite and sand. My palms grow in it, like on steroids (bellow photo Areca catechu rescued from the agonal state bought from the market. Difference of 1.5 years).

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Edited by Ilovepalm
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Good mix,ilovepalm

I use similar, coco coir,perlite,composted pine bark and expanded clay pebbles,works a treat, yes talk pots better.:greenthumb:

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@palmad Merc I try to make my palms grow healthy, although I'm not an expert. ;) 

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It looks pretty dark there near the wall. You'd probably benefit from some supplemental lighting, one that can penetrate through the leaves. 5 hours a day would be fine. Wait till it's dried out enough, and flush it with some water in the sink or bathtub and try getting rid of some of those built up deposits, or at least break them down a bit. keep doing that as a schedule so you're not left with a slop of soil that's rarely circulated. Your roots have probably been effected in some fashion at this point looking at that pot. Watch the temperature indoors too, pretty much every palm is a disaster to take care of indoors if it's cold and dark. if it's 60 indoors for an example, that pot is going to be pretty darn cold to the touch, especially with a clay pot. 

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Thanks again for all the information, and that is very impressive @Ilovepalm I would love to grow one like you ! I actually have another rather small Areca Palm (no more than 1ft, see 1st pic) would it be possible to take one of the plants and grow a larger one ?

Back to my dying palm, @DoomsDave yes the pot does have a hole and seems to be draining ok - I have always emptied the saucer after watering too. I hope it is not root rot as I don’t really have the knowledge or products for how to properly treat it..

I have now moved it to the bedroom where it is a little warmer, more humid, and lighter (2nd pic). I hope this will make a difference. I know it is by a radiator but I put a thermostat in the palm and it never goes above about 19 celcius a few feet away. I would still like to remove the dead leaves and stalks, can anyone tell me the best way to go about this ?

Thanks again!

C6CF1C10-A3E9-48A7-960C-62DFDF2F1AE0.jpeg

0DC64DEC-E4F4-4EBD-A549-FF3B26546555.jpeg

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48 minutes ago, Rafi said:

Thanks again for all the information, and that is very impressive @Ilovepalm I would love to grow one like you ! I actually have another rather small Areca Palm (no more than 1ft, see 1st pic) would it be possible to take one of the plants and grow a larger one ?

Back to my dying palm, @DoomsDave yes the pot does have a hole and seems to be draining ok - I have always emptied the saucer after watering too. I hope it is not root rot as I don’t really have the knowledge or products for how to properly treat it..

I have now moved it to the bedroom where it is a little warmer, more humid, and lighter (2nd pic). I hope this will make a difference. I know it is by a radiator but I put a thermostat in the palm and it never goes above about 19 celcius a few feet away. I would still like to remove the dead leaves and stalks, can anyone tell me the best way to go about this ?

Thanks again!

C6CF1C10-A3E9-48A7-960C-62DFDF2F1AE0.jpeg

0DC64DEC-E4F4-4EBD-A549-FF3B26546555.jpeg

In the case of Areca, Kentia, or Chamedora, you can separate the rhizome of the mother's plant and replant it to a separate pot. The first photo is Chamedora elegans. I think it's a it would be a pity to split it, because will lose her charm. Regarding a large palm tree (Areca), you cut the dead leaves with scissors at the base.

Edited by Ilovepalm
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A lot of Dypsis lutescens are sold here in Finland. Very many palm suffer from the same situation. The reason for it is clay. In the center of the roots there is a big clay ball. Dypsis lutescens needs a lot of water. Its journey from the nursery to the owner's home takes a long time. Without that clay, they die on the way without moisture. On the way, nobody has time to take care of palm trees. They just sell them. Many buyers do not know that in the middle of roots there is a clay ball. I've seen it so many times. Those palm trees are all in the same condition as your palm is. The roots should be washed clean from the clay and plant the palm tree in the new good quality soil. Then the palm recovery begins. I know this is really annoying, but money talks.

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What great tips here!!

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I agree with Cisco.  Get that palm out of that pot and check the roots.  It looks like your soil is pretty tight, repot with a lighter mix that will hold some water but drains quickly.  This will let your roots breathe and cut down on the rot!  

-Cheers!

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And as your pot actually has many little palms struggling to live, not just one palm, you will doing the survivors a great favor and reward yourself with multiple happy palms instead of a miserable colony of dying ones. You just have to have patience, a garden hose and some dexterity to wash away old soil and untangle roots. Inspect the roots of each palm. White roots are healthy, black roots are dead/dying.

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The new soil could look like this. Pine bark, coco fiber, leca-gravel, perlite and coarse sand. A very good soil is also a PalmMeir mix. Seramis, pinebark and leca-gravel.

MMM.jpg

24.9.2015 - 1.jpg

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19 hours ago, cisco said:

The new soil could look like this. Pine bark, coco fiber, leca-gravel, perlite and coarse sand. A very good soil is also a PalmMeir mix. Seramis, pinebark and leca-gravel.

MMM.jpg

24.9.2015 - 1.jpg

Well done! Beautiful!! :greenthumb::greenthumb::greenthumb:

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On 2/18/2018, 7:58:24, Rafi said:

Thanks again for all the information, and that is very impressive @Ilovepalm I would love to grow one like you ! I actually have another rather small Areca Palm (no more than 1ft, see 1st pic) would it be possible to take one of the plants and grow a larger one ?

Back to my dying palm, @DoomsDave yes the pot does have a hole and seems to be draining ok - I have always emptied the saucer after watering too. I hope it is not root rot as I don’t really have the knowledge or products for how to properly treat it..

I have now moved it to the bedroom where it is a little warmer, more humid, and lighter (2nd pic). I hope this will make a difference. I know it is by a radiator but I put a thermostat in the palm and it never goes above about 19 celcius a few feet away. I would still like to remove the dead leaves and stalks, can anyone tell me the best way to go about this ?

Thanks again!

C6CF1C10-A3E9-48A7-960C-62DFDF2F1AE0.jpeg

0DC64DEC-E4F4-4EBD-A549-FF3B26546555.jpeg

 

That top palm looks like a Chamaedorea Elegans.  They are usually sold like like. The nursery trade shoves tons of seeds into a pot and grows it as a clump to sell as it makes them full.  They are in fact solitary palms.  Of course this is just based on the photo and the fact that it looks very much like C. elegans to me. 

Another thing to remember, and this ties in with others talk of soil types, may soils will have what is called a perched water table in them.  Especially smaller / finer gained soils.  Basically it has to do with adhesion, cohesion, and capillary action:  What that means is that even after the post has drained excess into the tray, the water tension between very small particles in the soil causes a large amount of water still being held in the bottom third of the pot.  You may not see it but there still is a "pool" of water in the soil in the pot even after you empty out the tray.  This surface tension interacting with the tiny particles via adhesion/ cohesion prevents capillary action from draining the water away.   By increasing the particle size in your soil, you begin to lessen the amount of water that its surface tension is able to adhere to particles in the pot, and increase the draining capillary action,  thus lessening the "Perched Water Table".    At least that is my own understanding of it. Others here might be able to help more.   You can also Click Here and there is loads of information out there on this particular subject.  I hope this helps you!   Welcome to PalmTalk! You are def in the right and best place for information on growing and maintaining healthy palms for sure.  The amount of knowledge, talent, and great folks here never ceases to amaze me! 

 

 

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When I told about clay there in the middle of the roots. It looks like this.

Clay.jpg

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That's ugly stuff there...

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Tell the suppliers of the palm,Clay should only be made for making pots,not putting in potting mix:floor:

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On ‎20‎/‎02‎/‎2018‎ ‎12‎:‎28‎:‎04, cisco said:

The new soil could look like this. Pine bark, coco fiber, leca-gravel, perlite and coarse sand. A very good soil is also a PalmMeir mix. Seramis, pinebark and leca-gravel.

MMM.jpg

24.9.2015 - 1.jpg

Hi, How often do you have to water ?

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On ‎17‎/‎02‎/‎2018‎ ‎03‎:‎32‎:‎14, palmad Merc said:

Good mix,ilovepalm

I use similar, coco coir,perlite,composted pine bark and expanded clay pebbles,works a treat, yes talk pots better.:greenthumb:

What ratio? :)

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All equal parts

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28 minutes ago, beliz1985 said:

What ratio? :)

All equal parts

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