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Merlyn2220

Copernicia Fallaensis problem, deficiency, water or normal?

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Merlyn2220

I bought a 3G Copernicia Fallaensis and a Baileyana from a local nursery on 12/7/18 and put them out on the South side of my house in a "nursery group" with a bunch of other larger palms. At the nursery they were in full sun in an open field, about 8 hours of midday sun.  In my location it's about 4 hours direct and the rest is semi-filtered from a couple of tall oak trees.  I have them in a group so I can water the whole crowd with a single 180 degree fan spray on a timer, I think currently set for 40 minutes around 8:30am every day.  The spray puts out about 20 gallons over that time in an area about 15 feet diameter, so each Copernicia is probably getting 0.25-0.5 gallons each morning from overhead spray.  I haven't added any fertilizer until a couple of days ago, when I put a sprinkling of Osmocote into each pot.  Our temperatures have had a couple of dips barely into the upper 30s, but have been mostly mid 70s for highs and mid 40s for lows.  Today is around 82F.  Everything else in the bed is growing normally with consistent spear growth (Bottle, D. Pembana, A. Caudescens, A. Engleri, S. Mauritiiformis, etc).  The Baileyana looks about the same and the partially opened spear has grown about 0.5" from 12/7-12/30.  The Fallaensis doesn't appear to have grown, but I forgot to sharpie-mark it before today.

The Fallaensis had a little bit of yellowing and spotting on 2 fronds when I bought it and slightly ragged/browned tips on the oldest fronds.  I figured this was not a big deal for a youngster, but it's gotten noticeably worse in the last week or so.  Attached are some photos of the Fallaensis moved onto my back porch.  The one with a backdrop of a few pots, a pineapple and a baby ponytail is from 12/7, the other 4 photos were taken today.  They are detail photos of the Fallaensis and an overhead picture with the Bailey too.  I'm concerned because the Fallaensis has quite a bit more browned tips on the leaves and the new spear has more browning on the right side.  I treated it with a dose of Banrot yesterday and wanted some suggestions or thoughts from the group:

  • Is the browned tips a simple lack of water?  Both the Baileyana and Fallaensis had a couple of finger-diameter roots escaping the pots, so they are probably ready to be stepped up to ~7G. I hadn't looked to see if one pot was getting a bit more spray than the other.
  • I've seen photos of potassium deficiency on Copernicias, browning, yellowing and necrotic spots or tips seems pretty common.  I've added the Osmocote, should I consider adding a little wood ash from my bonfire spot?
  • I have another spot with a bit more sun, and can run a dedicated dripper to the pot instead of an overhead spray.  If it's a fungal problem then that would probably help, along with another dose of Banrot.
  • Since they are growing roots out of the pots, should I step them up now so they'll have space to grow roots over the winter?

 

 

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kurt decker

"Our temperatures have had a couple of dips barely into the upper 30s" There is your problem right there. That's just cold damage. Going to happen on smaller plants from time to time. Your plant looks very healthy. Stop moving it around. Plants have to adjust to differing light conditions, every time you're moving it, you put it under that stress. The thing looks in great shape to me. Stop doing things to it and just let it grow. You're doing a lot better than you think you are. Very nice.

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mike in kurtistown

I agree. Those look like nice strong young palms. With big roots at the drainholes, you could pot up or even put in the ground. In Florida, I planted out Copernicias small because they wanted to develop big root systems, and why not in the soil. They don't show much growth above the soil surface for a couple years, then gradually accelerate.

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Merlyn2220

I'd be surprised to see cold damage on these palms, we officially hit 38F on 11/28/18 and 40-45F on a few nights around 12/10-12/12. Baileyana and Fallaensis typically don't see damage until freezing, though I suppose I don't know enough about young Copernicias to say that for sure.  But the cold-tender pineapples, D. Pembana, C. Macrocarpa and Bottle palms less than a foot away show no damage and are happily opening new fronds.

I haven't planted them yet because I have a few 3 foot diameter water oak trunks that I need to dig up and yank out of the ground first.  Some days I curse the builders of my house, who decided that planting 40x water oaks was a good idea.  They grow fast up to 70-80 feet tall and then die, they drop big branches on a weekly basis and they like to fall over in hurricanes.  The other reason is I read the Copernicias (like Bismarcks) don't like to be transplanted. I'm still looking for an Acrocomia Aculeata, Attalea Cohune and maybe an Arenga Pinnata to finish out the "monster palm" areas.  I thought I'd get these up to 1-2ft tall before picking their final planting spot.

If these aren't particularly susceptible to fungus from overhead watering, then I may just step them up to deeper pots for more root growth over the winter.  Once I finish painting the back porch I have a large area I can use as a super-sunny nursery over the winter. I have some heliconias in pots there that wouldn't mind a couple of neighbors.

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DavidLee

I believe Kurt is right. It is a differently kind of cold damage than from a freeze.  Prolong cold can cause nutrient deficiency in the leafs of palms from tropical origins. Especially see this in young palms in pots where the roots are exposed to cold. You could see less of this when the palm is well established in the ground with a deep root system. Beside that your young palms are beautiful. Good luck with them.

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PalmatierMeg

They look good to me, too. Copernicias want to be in the ground when they seem insanely small. And they grow large root systems. I planted two seedling C. rigidas a couple days ago and surrounded them with bricks so we don't accidentally step on them. If you have a place to put those, consider planting them sooner rather than later. The ground in central/south FL doesn't get cold enough to damage the root systems and you can always protect the leaves with a towel or blanket when really cold weather threatens.

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Merlyn2220

Actually that's a couple of good points David and Meg, I hadn't thought about them being in small pots vs the ground.  The last potted palm I had with roots busting through the pot was a Phoenix Reclinata/Loureiroi/Pusilla hybrid.  It had been in a 15g pot for ~10 years and didn't seem to care at all.  Of course it tripled in size in 6 months after I put it in the ground, but it never showed a sign of damage or any nutritional problems.  And of course they are safe to much colder than the typical 25-30F lows we see here every few years.

I took a closer look at the two palms while I was painting the porch, and the Baileyana only had 1 pinkie-sized root sneaking out.  The Fallaensis had 5 finger-sized, trying to escape out of every opening in the pot. They were broken off at 0.5" diameter, so they were probably spreading a pretty good distance into the ground at the nursery.  Most likely the Baileyana didn't suffer much loss when I bought it, but the Fallaensis was probably 25% or so drawing water and food from the ground instead of the pot.  

Based on the feedback I think my best bet is to dig up the one water oak stump asap and get the Fallaensis into the ground.  If they are as root-sensitive as Bismarckia Nobilis then repotting now and planting in 2 months might be worse for it than planting it next week and protecting it on cold snaps. :) 

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PalmatierMeg

I don't think Copernicias are particularly root sensitive. About 9 years ago I bought my largest baileyana from a seller on eBay. That moron upotted it, rinsed off the soil and tossed it into a cardboard box: no packing for roots or leaves. When I opened the box I almost had a heart attack. I swore never to buy from the guy again, potted it in a 14" treepot and waited. In two months roots were escaping the drain holes and I had to plant it because I had no deeper pots left. Tough palm. You need to get yours into the ground ASAP.

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Merlyn2220

Meg, honestly that's the best news I've heard this year!  :D  And since this year is 99.99999% over that's saying a lot!  I received a similar Chamberyonia Macrocarpa with washed off and dried out roots from an eBay seller, and it's still struggling to survive 4 months later.  I have read several other PT posts about trying to move Copernicias of a couple of types, where they declined and died after transplanting.  That sounded so much like people's experience with Bismarckia Nobilis that I made the (maybe faulty) assumption that they had a root death-regrowth issue like Sabals.  If they aren't that root sensitive then repotting small ones should not be too difficult, and the loss of the escapee roots may be only a temporary nutritional/water issue.

Either way, the 5x large diameter root loss when I bought it seems more like the major reason why my Fallaensis is showing a water/nutritional problem.  And why the Baileyana is fine when it only lost 1 expeditionary root.  So I think you are all right.  Repot or get it in the ground ASAP, preferably into the ground!  :D 

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Merlyn2220

I marked the new frond on the 1st and it grew noticeably in the first few days of the year, when temperatures were about 83/65.  I marked it again today to see if it keeps growing in temps that are more "normal" for January of 70/50.  I moved it from 3G to 7G this afternoon, it was not root bound on the sides and only very slightly on the bottom.  Interestingly enough, the top inch of soil was completely free of roots and fell off when I tilted it to look at the bottom.  

I moved it to a maximum sun location on the porch, which is usually ~10F warmer than the back yard.

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PalmatierMeg

They need deep pots not necessarily wide pots. They also want full sun so don't skimp on that.

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Steve in Florida

I personally would not water them with overhead spray daily since your average daily temperatures are 60F and below.  Try removing them from the spray area and hand water at the base every 3 days or twice weekly.   The color should improve in a week or less. 

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mike in kurtistown

I disagree with Meg about the deep pots. Deep pots can be a way of killing Copernicias. They do have long roots, but the roots tend to circle around the sides of their pots, so that lateral space is more important than vertical space. At least that is my policy. I have have angry arguments with prominent nurserymen about that, but I have also raised tons of Copernicias of numerous varieties.

 

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Missi

I need to hijack this thread for a moment. I'm planting out my 2 fallaensis and 2 hospita this spring. Should I add any soil amendments short of a thick layer of mulch (peat, compost, topsoil)? My native soil is basically sugar sand and and limestone cap rock. Is that similar to Cuba's soil?

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sonoranfans

Deep pots are harder to water cycle, I suspect less consistency.  But my experience is cuban copernicia don't like to be in pots because they cant grow these huge root systems that is in their DNA.  Watering every day is a no for me and I have a fast draining potting soil(added perlite).  I have 2 hospitas and 2 macroglossas in 5g pots now, I water them 2x a week in winter.  

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Merlyn2220

Thanks for all the feedback on pots and watering!  These definitely have an unusually large amount of roots for such a small above-ground palm!  The 3G pots were pretty solid with roots except for the top inch, and probably had 2x the roots on the bottom of the pot compared to the sides.  They were definitely starting to circle the pot, but not enough to be a concern.  I should have taken a photo, I'll do that when I step up the Baileyana.

I moved them onto the porch into the sunniest spot I have, and away from the overhead watering. I was thinking of running a couple of 0.5gal/hour drippers over to the pots, so I don't forget to water them.  Does 2 drippers @ 0.5gal / hour for 40 minutes seem reasonable per 7g pot?  That's 0.66 gallons per watering, 3x per week.  

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Merlyn2220

Missi, my reading is that Copernicias don't like really acidic soil, and some people recommend adding dolomite or lime to the mix.  Apparently they are not too picky about soil types, but avoiding very acidic soil seems like a good idea.  My step up was with ~1/3 each of generic Miracle Gro potting soil, coarse sand and perlite.  This was pretty similar to what it was already growing in, which I believe was a mix of medium ground pine bark, sand and dirt dredged from the bottom of a FL lake.  If anyone has other suggestions or thinks my mix is a bad choice, let me know! :) 

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Merlyn2220

I've revised my thinking on the cold damage.  My wife gave me an Acurite weather station for Christmas, and I have been logging temperatures since the end of the year.  My back yard (and nursery area) are generally a few degrees colder than the "official" weather for the area.  I double-checked the Acurite's temperature readings with an absurdly expensive optical Fluke meter from work, and it is pretty much within 1F accuracy.  Wednesday night (9th) was 44F per Weather.com and local Wunderground stations.  My yard read 37-38F at 7am and the Acurite station recorded 35F overnight.  Early this morning I read 38-40F in the yard (same as the Acurite) and the local stations and Weather.com showed 44F.

So my conclusion from the above is that my yard is several degrees colder than the "official" temperatures, so the "official 40-42F" low on December 10-11 could have been easily in the mid 30s in my backyard.  It could have been colder, maybe even close to freezing.  This could definitely have contributed to the frond damage on the Fallaensis in a pot.  

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