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newswirl200

Diagnosing and trying to save possibly over-watered majesty palm.

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newswirl200

Hello,

I have lurked on this forum for a while while learning how to take care of a majesty palm (my first palm of any kind) which I acquired around a year and a half ago. I subsequently became aware of all of the warnings about keeping them as an indoor houseplant, but I thought that I was doing pretty well with mine until it started encountering a new problem which I am trying to understand. It was sold as a Home Depot plant with several palms in the pot, and over the past few months the smaller palms have been dying off. I am beginning to suspect that I will need to repot the main large palm (and also one remaining smaller palm which I think is still alive) if the other palms in the pot have rotted, but I want to hear some external perspectives and I would also like to better understand what is going on with my plant. Apologies in advance for the lengthy description.

 

Some background:

- I have generally erred on the side of giving the palm more rather than less water and fertilizer. I water it when the soil becomes half-damp/half-dry to the touch, which ends up being around every 2-5 days depending on the temperature/season. (I've read about the basics of how these palms naturally grow on riverbanks etc.) I effectively ended up fertilizing it (with gradual-release palm fertilizer sticks) every 1-2 months when I would see phenomena like new leaves sticking together, under-sized new leaves, or yellow streaking on leaves and assume that any related nutrient deficiencies were a cue to fertilize more often. I used to apply potash in response to the yellow streaking, but I wasn't sure if it was making a difference or not. The plant has also had ongoing issues with spider mites which I have sporadically treated with alcohol, but which I should have probably been more proactive about eliminating.

- Around November of last year, there was a time when I may have I lapsed and gone too many days without watering it. I also remember than I may have accidentally broken a root while inserting a HydroSpike system to keep it watered over the Thanksgiving vacation. Around a week or two later, one of the smaller palm trees started to turn a kind of sickly green color which I hadn't seen before. The spear became discolored, and when I tried to see if I could pull on it the entire palm (minus any roots) pulled away in my hand. I should have probably done something to repot the other plants at the time, but I had a really busy schedule (I'm in a really demanding graduate school program right now), and I didn't take any action.

- While I was away over the holidays I installed an automatic watering system (the Claber Oasis) which I have previously used, and which the palm seemed to like before, ie. I felt like it looked better after I returned from vacation than it would if I had watered by hand. The system gives the plant around an ounce of water every day. After I returned from the vacation I was busy and left the system running for another month before disconnecting it, for three months total between mid-December and mid-February. I am wondering if maybe that system wasn't watering the palm deeply enough, and providing good enough drainage, and if that could have contributed to a kind of overwatering where the water in the pot might have become too stagnant.

- A few weeks ago I saw some new yellow streaking on one of the leaves of the largest palm, and I added more fertilizer, and also as part of that process had to give it extra water while its soil was already pretty wet.

- Around a week after the addition of the extra fertilizer and water, I noticed one of the smaller palms started to have its entire leaves turn a kind of dried-out green color, like they were dead without going through a process of browning or discoloration first. Now another of the small palms is doing the same thing, and the spear on the first dried-out palm has become discolored and kind of shriveled/tilted, so it seems like they are dead. There is another small palm in the back of the pot which tends to receive less water and be located further away from where I most often tend to fertilize, and it seems to still be doing okay.

 

I am guessing that as a result of these circumstances I will need to try to separate out the dead palms and re-pot in order to save the remaining palms from any kind of traveling rot or infection. I am wondering about how to balance between avoiding disturbances to the roots of the surviving palms and ensuring that I adequately separate them from their dead/potentially rotten neighbors. If I would end up needing to wash the roots that would be hard for me to do in my small apartment.

In terms of preventing this from happening again in the future (assuming that I can save the rest of the palms), I also wonder if I may have given the palm too much fertilizer (ie if I should have used potash instead), or too much water.

 

Here are my images: https://imgur.com/a/psJXLwB

The first two show the palm itself and the yellow streaks I've seen on the leaves. The next two are close-ups of the smaller tilted/discolored palms which I suspect are dead/dying. The last image is a close-up of what the shriveled leaves look like on the smaller dead palms. None of the images really show the smaller palm in the back of the pot that also still looks relatively healthy (it has a green spear) apart from some browning leaves. Sorry if some of the surroundings are kind of messy.

 

Thank you for any thoughts and perspectives which you have!

Edited by newswirl200

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Allen

Over winter and indoors a Majesty palm will have die off of older fronds.  It was grown in perfect conditions in FL with more sunlight/etc.  Your best bet is to get the palm outside into filtered light/part shade when low temps are above 40F.  Or go to HD and buy another.  I went there yesterday and the new shipments seem to be in. Keep watered as I doubt overwater is a problem.  Indoors there are just too many issues to correct - humidity, mites, light, etc.  I don't see any disease that sticks out immediately but I'm not a expert.  I've had a ton of Majesty palms I keep in garage over winter and put outside in summer and mine do similar during winter.  I water roughly every 2 weeks fully when indoors.  

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gtsteve

I'm with Allen @Allen, I would guess that it wants more light.

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newswirl200
5 hours ago, gtsteve said:

I'm with Allen @Allen, I would guess that it wants more light.

Thanks for the suggestion. I used to have a grow light nearby it which was also being used for some succulents, and I could try turning it back on. I wonder if that might have been part of why it got through the last winter without problems like it is having now.

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RJ
15 hours ago, newswirl200 said:

Thanks for the suggestion. I used to have a grow light nearby it which was also being used for some succulents, and I could try turning it back on. I wonder if that might have been part of why it got through the last winter without problems like it is having now.

A good bet, Mine got too large to bring inside the house so now I wheel it in an out of the garage. We have a couple cold nights coming (29. 27) so  I'll wheel it in tonight. Hoping these are the last two nights they need to be in the garage. 

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Funkthulhu

More light, but also. . . is it possible to overwater a majesty?  I've had them sitting in several inches of water for weeks at a time.

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Brad Mondel

I never let my Majesty dry out, doing so proves fatal. Remember Ravenea rivularis is named after where it grows...in rivers and even in standing water. 

 

I've made the mistake of ripping leaf bases off though which allows bacteria and fungus to infect and kill the palm. Be sure to cut dead leaves and never rip or shred off leaf bases. 

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Merlyn2220

A couple of photos would definitely help, but I'd guess you have a fungus or bacteria in there.  The distorted leaves or spears that won't open normally is sometimes a sign of boron deficiency, and lengthwise dead or yellow streaks can be Magnesium or Manganese deficiency.  An odd yellow-green new spear is likely an iron deficiency, which can be caused by mucky soil or root rot.  Those are only guesses based on your description, you can look up photos online of deficiencies and see if one of them matches your syptoms.  If your fertilizer is a "basic" one without the micronutrients then adding a little palm-specific might help.

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