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PeteMoss

W. Robusta Shriveled leaf, what does it mean?

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PeteMoss

Hi,

tl;dr what does it mean when the leaf shrinks like in the picture?

So I’ve posted a few times about washies that I seem to be putting through a lot of misery. I received a couple more from a Florida nursery to start fresh. I took a sample of the nursery soil and separated it into its components and measured the ratios so I think the next mix I prepare will be “good” - last one is very soggy.

But I just noticed one frond on one of the new ones shrivel up. One of my old ones would do that, and I thought shrivel meant lack of water, so I watered it and it opened back up a bit. This happened a few times. Then recently it had a couple do that after replanting (trying time get rid of gnats) and I watered it and the rest just closed up and died :(.

I pointed out the closed up leaf on a new one to my gf yesterday and I mentioned I water every two to three days like I saw on google, and she said she only waters her house plants maybe once a week and to just let them be. I don’t drench them, only 1 cup at a time, but am I still over watering? Is the leaf closing up a result of too much?

sincerely,

Not very good with plants

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Rickybobby

In pots you should only be watering when the plant needs it. Every few days is too much. I stick my finger in the soil down a bit to see how moist it is. Usually for me when a frond folds up bits from excess water or root damage. Show us a pic of the soil 

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PeteMoss

I haven’t watered it since Friday. Its dry on top and just a little moist a couple knuckles deep. Inspecting the planter it came in I noticed it only has holes on the sides and not the bottom, so it may well have water standing on the bottom despite the top being dry for an inch or two... the nursery said wait a week before transplanting.

 

thanks for taking a look

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PalmTreeDude

One of my Washingtonia robusta seedlings is doing this as well and I'm not also not sure why. The tips of some of the leaves are shriveled up and some are not. Toward the top of the spear is shriveled up but the new growth seems to be fine. I'm not sure what's up. 

Edited by PalmTreeDude

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PeteMoss

The rest of the plant is okay, I noticed another getting a little thin when I took that pic. The new spear however is growing fine and is starting to open up, with another spear already emerged 6”. So I think there is hope, I’m just concerned because I’ve seen the shriveled up leaf a lot and not sure what it means.

 

it seems most the issues I’ve posted about are due to overwatering, so I think I’ll try to lay off more. I got two and overall they’re doing pretty well. Plus a queen which is new to me. Just trying to do better than my first set.

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zoli

Watering in sips (i.e. one cup at a time) is bad practice in my experience. If the soil mix is well draining, a thorough drench is preferred. A general rule of thumb that I use to gauge efficient drainage is to see approximately 80% of the water run out the drainage holes as I water. It should appear as though you were pouring water into a bottomless cylinder. Of course, drainage like that will mean that your mix will dry out much faster, but I can guarantee you that you will no longer have issues with fungus gnats, springtails or any other moisture loving insects. Additionally, fast draining mixes will provide adequate root aeration and improve air circulation, which all translate to healthier and stronger roots in the long run. Water logged soils and root rot will become a thing of the past. 

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PeteMoss
9 hours ago, zoli said:

Watering in sips (i.e. one cup at a time) is bad practice in my experience. If the soil mix is well draining, a thorough drench is preferred. A general rule of thumb that I use to gauge efficient drainage is to see approximately 80% of the water run out the drainage holes as I water. It should appear as though you were pouring water into a bottomless cylinder.

I took a sample of the soil they came in and it drains very well. That's why in the post above I said I think there's water sitting on the bottom even though the top looks dry - it drains fast but the pots they came in don't have holes. I've gathered material to recreate the soil as best I can. The reason I do sips at a time is because they're inside. The saucers catch what runs through sure, but not enough to keep from needing a drain somewhere. I have tried bringing them to the tub so that I have a drain for it all, but it's tight in the bathroom and these plants I received are slightly larger than the ones I already had which I already had a hard time not smacking into walls and doorways and ultimately the whole process seemed to do more harm than good to the plant as far as I could tell. Also it gets messy. Over the summer before I moved I had them out on a patio and I could water them and let it run right into the yard. I have been literally using just a cup, after reading your post I am thinking maybe I get an actual watering pot so I can more evenly pour and moisten the soil, and give it enough so that I see it start to come out the bottom (when I switch to pots with holes in the bottom).

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zoli

Yes, watering large plants can be a challenge indoors. I try using large flood trays that you can purchase from indoor/hydroponic specialty stores, but even those can spill and create a mess. Another option for overwintering (though admittedly less enjoyable) is to keep them in a cold, but frost free garage with minimal water and grow lights. 

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Reynevan
17 hours ago, PeteMoss said:

I haven’t watered it since Friday. Its dry on top and just a little moist a couple knuckles deep. Inspecting the planter it came in I noticed it only has holes on the sides and not the bottom, so it may well have water standing on the bottom despite the top being dry for an inch or two... the nursery said wait a week before transplanting.

 

thanks for taking a look

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The soil looks kinda messy.  If you're about to repot it, move it to some rocky material instead of soil mixes from the gardening centers. My small washingtonia now grows in pure lava rock and is super happy.  I used to have all my plants in a standard mixes but it just doesn't work with palms kept indoors in pots. Hard to adjust watering and fertilization, especially during winter time.

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PeteMoss

 

7 hours ago, Reynevan said:

My small washingtonia now grows in pure lava

I did just get a bunch of stuff to replicate the current soil, I could make it less dense though. I would like something that retains the water somewhat because every now and then I am gone for a few days or so. Do you use a fine or coarse rock? Does it hold water at all? I think I am going to use what I have since I already purchased a ton and dug through it a bit to make some small sample mixes. 

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PalmatierMeg
On 1/13/2020 at 7:57 PM, PeteMoss said:

 

I did just get a bunch of stuff to replicate the current soil, I could make it less dense though. I would like something that retains the water somewhat because every now and then I am gone for a few days or so. Do you use a fine or coarse rock? Does it hold water at all? I think I am going to use what I have since I already purchased a ton and dug through it a bit to make some small sample mixes. 

A Washy that large should be able to go several days or more without watering, esp. during winter. They come from a desert/semi-desert climate and have drought tolerance. You don't want a mix that "retains" water for days. That leaf in the photo at the top of this topic looks like it is damping off. I believe you are watering too much and too often, leading to root rot and damping off (a fungal disease). More palms die of overwatering than underwatering.

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PeteMoss
4 minutes ago, PalmatierMeg said:

A Washy that large should be able to go several days or more without watering,

So how do I know how often to water these things? I’ve been going by when the top 2” are dry which is what most sources say, but that’s apparently too much? Should I water like every two weeks to ensure I don’t harm them?

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Reynevan
On 1/14/2020 at 1:57 AM, PeteMoss said:

 

I did just get a bunch of stuff to replicate the current soil, I could make it less dense though. I would like something that retains the water somewhat because every now and then I am gone for a few days or so. Do you use a fine or coarse rock? Does it hold water at all? I think I am going to use what I have since I already purchased a ton and dug through it a bit to make some small sample mixes. 

I use Lava like the one from this listing:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lava-Scoria-small-bonsai-soil-14-lbs-8-Liter-1-8-minus/182308785357?hash=item2a72734ccd:g:6DQAAOSwpLNX-ve8
 

Just add any rocky material to your soil, lava, pumice or Leca would do. It does not hold much water, but it's purpose is to make soil less dense, gives better areation so plant doesn't succumb to overwatering. Yes, it means you'll have to water it more often during summer, but that shouldn't be a big deal with palm native to deserts. The leaf from your photo already looks like a victim of some kind of fungal disease, it may be better to repot the plant soon.

Check this thread here, that helped me grow my palms indoors :

 

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PeteMoss
48 minutes ago, Reynevan said:

The leaf from your photo already looks like a victim of some kind of fungal disease, it may be better to repot the plant soon.

So my intent was to match the soil they’re in now and move basically the whole thing and mix the dirt to minimize root ball disturbance, and put them in slightly bigger pots (roots are already busting out) with holes in the bottom to let water drain out so they don’t sit in it like I’m sure they are right now. If there’s fungus, should I remove the old dirt completely or will it be ok if I amend my mix to drain faster and change my watering practice?

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PeteMoss

So I noticed the petioles on fully open fronds shriveling too, I guess I should replace the soil they came in. Do I need to cut rotting roots or is that just going to harm them more? Will they be able to make it? I’m not really sure what to do now 

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Bismarckiafan

In my experience,  Washingtonias  when kept indoors in winter absolutely hate the dry air coming from a heater or a radiator.  It may sound implausible given their desert origin  but  that is a fact.  Even  Howeas  are more resistant to the dry heat.  I once kept losing fronds on my Washie  really fast until I found a unheated room for it.   That is why I think it is very difficult for an average person to keep them alive indoors in winter unless you have got a frostfree greenhouse or a basement/garage  with some minimum daylight or growlights.

I advise against repotting in midwinter. That will probably cause more harm than good.  If the roots were decaying due to soggy soil or overwatering, the fronds  would be turning yellow first before shrivelling up. The frond in the photo is greyish green so I assume it is the heat that is doing the damage. My advice is to find another place for it as far away as possible from the central heating. 

By the way,  Chamaerops humilis palms fare far better indoors in winter.  Still, when they are kept at a room temperature, they grow weak elongated petioles that you have to cut off in spring because they fall over.  If the Washingtonia doesn´t make it,  try  Chamaerops in the future.   They are cheap and troublefree palms.  Good luck with your palm. 

Edited by Bismarckiafan

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PeteMoss

I had a coconut kick the bucket I think for that same reason. I don’t control the heat in the apartment, it’s just maintained at 73 which is nice buts incredibly dry. They are desert palms but they came from Florida so I’m sure they’re not having a great time with it.

I have 4 now and the first couple I got in June and July did the same shrivel thing so I was curious what it means. Another frond on the tree on the pic is starting to close up too, but I do remember the ones in the summer burned the tips first which I learned was too much water, so I thought I learned that already.
 

I suppose I’m having trouble adjusting to seasonal watering while they’re trying to adjust to a completely different environment. I do mist them in the morning but maybe that’s not enough inside in winter.

i think I’ll leave them be and when summer rolls around look into potentially using lava rock soil or something and try not to drown them if they make it. Thanks for the responses and tips everyone!

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PalmatierMeg

Rather than mist,  steam bath once or twice a week is much more effective. Run the hot water in the shower with the bathroom door closed for several minutes, turn it off, then place potted palms in the empty tub and close the door. Your palms may want humidity rather than watering.

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PeteMoss
42 minutes ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Rather than mist,  steam bath once or twice a week is much more effective. Run the hot water in the shower with the bathroom door closed for several minutes, turn it off, then place potted palms in the empty tub and close the door. Your palms may want humidity rather than watering.

Might I be better off with a humidifier? Tiny Bathroom. How long do I leave them in there for if I do so? It gets cold in there pretty quick, it's the only room without a heater.

I placed them near the heater initially because i thought they would want to be warm, but if it's too dry it's not gonna be much help I suppose. Might they eventually grow accustomed to a dryer environment?

Edited by PeteMoss

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jimmyt

PeteMoss...  a portable ultrasonic humidifier would probably work.  They can be set to humidity % and can be located right next to your plants.  Water tanks are easy to fill/remove. Auto shutdown when empty.  Have used them myself down here in dry ‘ol Texas

jimmyt

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Rickybobby

Just be careful when rooms get to 60 plus percent humidity you will get mould and wreck your house. I have decided to go the dry way and hot. Haven’t lost a palm that way ever if your frond is shrivelling up. It’s from something else. Wet cold roots they hate 

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PeteMoss
1 minute ago, Rickybobby said:

Just be careful when rooms get to 60 plus percent humidity you will get mould and wreck your house. I have decided to go the dry way and hot. Haven’t lost a palm that way ever if your frond is shrivelling up. It’s from something else. Wet cold roots they hate 

I have moved them further from the heater and more fronds are starting to go lol. I know they're cold hardy but I think they like being hot. I might have given them too much water the first week but otherwise I really haven't given them that much, I've only had them maybe three weeks? I'm hoping they're just adjusting to new climate -_-

On wet cold roots I usually use at least room temp water too, and I tend to use filtered water because the water in Connecticut seems to be pretty "hard"

For what it's worth I also got a queen palm of the same size with the w. robustas from the same nursery and it literally hasn't changed since unboxing it. It's just the washies giving me a hard time. From my experience in SoCal the washies seem to do better in the aridity so I'm a little surprised if it's a humidity thing. Then again they came from Florida which is a totally different climate.

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PeteMoss

The first picture are the two I had since summer. The one on the left you can see all the dead parts on the fronds, that was from me overwatering (like A LOT) when i first brought them inside. The one on the right was actually doing great right next to the heater, it had three new spears coming out at once and growing fast. But then I put it in a new pot for some silly reason and the whole thing died except the spears. These two haven't shown any growth (or death for that matter) since maybe November, but they still have green.

The second picture is one I just got, slightly larger than the two from summer. you can see the fronds shrinking and tearing.

Third picture is the washie I originally posted about and it's actually doing better out of the two new ones aside from the completely closed leaf.

Fourth is the queen. That's exactly how it came out of the shipping box, and it seems fine as far as I can tell.

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Merlyn2220

I also had a couple of pots with holes part way up the sides, but not on the bottom.  They are great for swampy palms like Licuala Grandis, but not so much for other types.  The ones I have would hold about 2 inches of water in the bottom of the pot.  The Grandis loved it, since apparently they hate ever drying out.  My Grandis pots are outdoors with 50% shade and daily sprinkling to keep them wet.

As others have said, the Washingtonia prefer to be on the dry side.  W. Robusta do pretty well in the humidity of FL but poorly in the hot, dry Western states.  So if you continue having issues with keeping things humid enough you might consider W. Filifera.  I don't know how well that palm does in pots, and it loves sun, so it might not make a great indoor palm.

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PeteMoss
1 minute ago, Merlyn2220 said:

So if you continue having issues with keeping things humid enough you might consider W. Filifera. 

I’ve read it’s difficult to find true filifera on palmtalk, otherwise I was thinking that too.

 

i popped the smaller washies out of their pots to see roots and like half of them were brown and mushy and falling off. I take it this is root rot? I put them back in the pots. I feel like I need to scrap those, and possibly check that the new palms aren’t infected :( Any methods to remedy minor rot if they’re not too bad?

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Merlyn2220

That sure sounds like root rot.  Anything that isn't firm and white is probably infested with fungus.  A systemic fungicide may help, I use Banrot as a soil drench.  That might not be safe indoors though, especially with pets or small humans around.  We were just discussing a potential "cure" for "pink rot" fungus a few days ago, they used Thiophanate-Methyl (Topsin) as a soil drench and Copper Oxychloride.  These were on outdoor palms and for a different kind of stem rot.  

Others here might have better suggestions on root rot, especially for indoor palms.  My guess is that you could slice off any infected roots, treat with a copper-based fungicide and an indoor-safe systemic fungicide and you may save them.  If they were cheap to replace then it might be better to just buy new ones.  

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PeteMoss

~50 a piece. Expensive if I want more than one. I really don’t want to go through the process of root trimming on more than one or two plants. I trashed my mix because I accidentally cross contaminated checking the roots; can’t use that mix on potentially clean trees.

 

Does the tree stay in the pot for the soil drench fungicide?

 

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PeteMoss

Bump

i ended up trashing the two that were 50+% rotted. I deported one of the new ones that’s not doing well at all, and it looks to me most of the roots are good. I found a few that were brown and gross, I cut off some brown ends, but otherwise it looks good as far as I can tell. The root ball is pretty packed with dirt that’s a little moist towards the center of the root ball, but as I pull some dirt out it seems to expose nice white roots.

 

edit: would it be okay to use fungicide on it anyway or will it be okay?
 

On that note, I think they’re having a hard time with humidity then. I’ve read even if palms can grow in multiple climates, that doesn’t mean a grown palm will necessarily survive going from one extreme to another: hot sunny humid florid to my fairly warm and really dry apartment under grow lamps. Any humidifiers to recommend? I was looking at this one https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B077Z2QCS5/ref=sspa_mw_detail_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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Edited by PeteMoss

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Rickybobby

I disagree I have washys and humid tropicals indoors at 82f and 38 percent humidity 24/7 and everything is growing like a weed and perfectly healthy 

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PeteMoss
2 hours ago, Rickybobby said:

I disagree I have washys and humid tropicals indoors at 82f and 38 percent humidity 24/7 and everything is growing like a weed and perfectly healthy 

Then maybe they just need time to adjust to it?

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