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JASON M

Dwindle of the Spindle

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JASON M

Good evening everyone,

Two years ago I planted a little spindle palm on the south side of my house, only a few feet from the wall. 
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As you can see, two of the leaves are very sadly stunted, but the newest leaf came out at a much better size. I am led to believe by the orange spotting that there is some potassium deficiency. 
 

My questions:

1.) Does the potassium deficiency also cause the stunted leaves, or is that more related to weather here in 9A Florida? 

2.) As bananas provide potassium, will a banana plant take more potassium from the soil? I have a small banana clump (4 trees no more than 2 feet each) about two feet to the right of my spindle. 
 

3.) What are some ways to add potassium to the soil, without using ‘actual’ fertilizer? I do not fertilize any of my plants, but I would consider an exception if it would improve the livelihood of my spindle!

 

Thank you all for sharing your wisdom B)

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gtsteve

Jason, I can't help you much as I have never made myself conversant with American zones or weather but... 

That soil (dirt) looks really bad for growing nearly anything, I think that you will be struggling indefinitely to have much do well there, except the native plants common to the area, or similar arid low nutrient soil loving plants. Mate, over here we have a lot of eucalyptus that would love that nutrient deficient dirt that you apparently have, you really should make more of an effort to look after that plant by improving the soil with mulch and nutrients or it will likely never look good.

But to answer one of your questions directly, you can give it potassium in wood ash. Wood ash has potassium. But you are better off giving a balanced fertiliser. It is also unlikely that the banana is taking the potassium out of the soil away from the palm. But Jason, If you do not have the time, money, inclination whatever, ok, no problem, we all understand, just don't expect the spindle to look good, I think that it just needs more attention (water, food) than it has had. 

If you get a reply from a local who differs from any of this, well ignore me and listen to him. Obviously.

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Johnny Palmseed

Couple problems here. First off your soil is probably not ideal. Florida soil doesn’t hold much nutrient wise so some kind of fertilizer is needed. Also, it looks like these were just planted in an area that had grass but not prepped with amendments or sprinklers. It’s usually best to dig out the grass first around where the palm will be planted. Also, you are “pushing your zone” with this palm. It will never look spectacular without a lot of help. The yellowing on the older leaves is an indication of potassium deficiency but it does not necessarily mean that if you add potassium, the condition will be corrected. Some soils have too high of pH for the plant to actually use the potassium that may be available. The small leaf size of the newest could be a manganese deficiency but it could also just be a general fertilizer deficiency as you have the other symptoms as well. I would recommend that you do use some palm specific fertilizer and perhaps increase your watering. It looks like the area is quite dry. I know the banana will love it. And you can get your soil tested by the local extension office for a small fee. They can recommend a treatment plan better as they will be more familiar with the local soil. I would not wait to do something though since the growing season will be over soon. You will want to have some good growth before winter.

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JASON M

I should have stated that I did add some garden soil to amend the location when I planted it. The last time I mulched the area was last year. As far as the moisture level, it receives more natural irrigation from the water falling off the roof as I do not have gutters. When gutters are on my radar, I have plans to carry some of that water to the immediate area to keep it moist. 

I realize that hyophorbes are not a 9A (-6.7C to -3.9C) plant by any means, but I have been very surprised to see them in some other marginal areas in Central Florida and figured I'd give it a shot. To the left of the palm,  I have a peach hibiscus that has done exceptionally well in the same time frame (apples to oranges, but this is probably the best section of my perimeter for tropicals).  I will definitely consider another soil amendment around the area and go for the balanced fertilizer. I understand he will most likely not excel regardless, but I want to at least extend a fighting chance. ;) This palm is definitely easier to throw a frost blanket over than my pride and joy Charles (Roystonea Regia).

 

Thanks for the replies!

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Tyrone

Just to keep it simple, it looks like a zinc and manganese deficiency causing the little leaf syndrome. As others have said a balanced fertiliser will likely bring the plant back. Little and often is better than lots almost never though when it comes to fertiliser. 

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