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garek007

Problem with King Palm tree, not sure if I'm over or under watering it.

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garek007

Hello,

I recently transplanted my King Palm from a container to the ground. I dug the hole a little deeper than the pot and filled with sand, as the instructions said to do. At first I was watering it almost every other day and it actually started doing worse. The tips of the palms started to brown. I then backed off of the watering, but it hasn't gotten any better. 

I just realized yesterday that I think I have poor drainage. In another hole, I filled it with water last night, and overnight, it was not empty this morning. Is that bad? What constitutes poor drainage? 

I've read that using a slow drip method is best. If I do that, do I still have to worry about poor drainage?

Edited by garek007
fixed typo

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PalmatierMeg

Welcome to PT. Where are you? Please post photos.

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garek007

Sorry, I'm in San Diego, 5 miles from the coast as the crow flies.

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Edited by garek007

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Silas_Sancona

Based on your description of how water stands in the 2nd hole, hours after flooding it, sounds like you have a lot of dense Clay where your at.. That said, Kings seem to love it/ thrive with a lot of water... If you search around, look for threads started by  @DoomsDave  and @Jim in Los Altos -among many other members there in San Diego/ other areas who grow kings to perfection- who will have lots of great advise to share.. Jim himself has a few that grow in/ within reach of a permanent water source, w/out issue in his landscape up in Nor. Cal. 

While the problem could be something else of course, trouble could be something as simple as yours  could have been shade grown where you purchased it and is going through an adjustment to more light. As mentioned, lots of great tips should be coming your way shortly..  Welcome to Palm Talk.

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Jim in Los Altos

Looks like sunburn to me. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to over water a King palm. As stated above, I have them flourishing with all roots submerged in water 24/7/365 day per year. I get seedlings in my pond that germinate below the surface and grow up out of the water. Three of my Archontophoenix are in stagnant water and very happy. 

Just keep yours well watered and watch the new growth and don’t worry about the browned older leaves. These palms need some adjustment when planted in the ground. 

Edited by Jim in Los Altos
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Tracy
3 hours ago, garek007 said:

 

I recently transplanted my King Palm from a container to the ground. I dug the hole a little deeper than the pot and filled with sand, as the instructions said to do. At first I was watering it almost every other day and it actually started doing worse. The tips of the palms started to brown. I then backed off of the watering, but it hasn't gotten any better. 

Hello and welcome to PT Garek007.  Seeing the browning you have experienced and knowing how dry it has been with the Santa Ana's blowing the last few days, I suspect that may be part of the issue.  No palm appreciates the dry winds we have been experiencing.  Some additional thoughts and questions.  It sounds like you transplanted your King after having it for a while, but depending on how long you have had it and where you got it, that could be the issue as well.  If its a relatively recent purchase from one of the Boxes, it may have been grown in a greenhouse.  This could explain the shock of being shifted into a sunny spot.  Even if you have owned it for a few months and its acclimated to your garden, if you moved it from a more shaded spot in your garden to its new in ground home you could be experiencing some sunburn.

While these palms are hard to overwater, I do want to suggest that if you plant additional ones, don't fill the hole with sand.  You would be better off digging a large whole and mix a palm and succulent soil mix in with the soil you remove and backfill with this amended mix.  While King palms don't mind having their feet wet all the time in clay soil, many other palms appreciate good drainage.  Adding mulch over top of the soil will also help you to retain water so you don't have to irrigate as often whether one has clay soil or a faster draining soil. 

King palms aka Archonotphoenix cunninghamiana are quite resilient palms, so despite the initial damage, they can pull through this.  What part of San Diego County are you in?  There are many different micro-climates even 5 miles inland here in San Diego, depending on whether you are on a mesa, in a canyon or a ridge top as what lies to the east or west of you blocking either coastal winds or Santa Ana winds coming out of the east.

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garek007

Wow great responses! @Jim Lost Altos thanks for the tips. I thought I read that palms can get root rot if sitting in water, but I'm glad to hear that isn't the case.  Tracy, I bought it from Home Depot back in June or July and it was indeed in shade for the latter half of the day. It is definitely getting more sun where it's at. I'm in Clairemont Mesa if that helps. 

The other thing I want to mention, and I'm not sure if you can tell from the pic. Is that the palm has like 5 different pups. There are two fairly large trunks, and then 3 smaller ones forming. So maybe it really does need more water because there are so many different trees trying to grow? 

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Fusca
38 minutes ago, garek007 said:

Is that the palm has like 5 different pups. There are two fairly large trunks, and then 3 smaller ones forming. So maybe it really does need more water because there are so many different trees trying to grow?

Welcome to Palmtalk!  King palms are solitary and don't produce pups so what you have are 5 individual palms.  They're often sold as multiples and 3 of the seeds germinated much slower than the other two in your case.  There will be competition for water among the 5 palms.

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Kim
1 hour ago, garek007 said:

Wow great responses! @Jim Lost Altos thanks for the tips. I thought I read that palms can get root rot if sitting in water, but I'm glad to hear that isn't the case.  Tracy, I bought it from Home Depot back in June or July and it was indeed in shade for the latter half of the day. It is definitely getting more sun where it's at. I'm in Clairemont Mesa if that helps. 

The other thing I want to mention, and I'm not sure if you can tell from the pic. Is that the palm has like 5 different pups. There are two fairly large trunks, and then 3 smaller ones forming. So maybe it really does need more water because there are so many different trees trying to grow? 

Welcome to PalmTalk! Clairemont Mesa is home to some pretty fabulous palm gardens, so you are in a choice location. 

Just want to mention that although your King palms are water hogs, not all palms are the same. Some palms will indeed get root rot if sitting in water. But not these.  :)

Once a frond has gone completely brown, trim it off with clean loppers. These palms are fast growers, as palms go, and you'll get more new fronds opening from spears before too long. Also, about the 5 palms in a pot -- it's not unusual to lose one or two of the smaller palms from such a group, so don't take it too hard if one doesn't make it.  Happy palm growing!

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DoomsDave
1 hour ago, garek007 said:

Wow great responses! @Jim Lost Altos thanks for the tips. I thought I read that palms can get root rot if sitting in water, but I'm glad to hear that isn't the case.  Tracy, I bought it from Home Depot back in June or July and it was indeed in shade for the latter half of the day. It is definitely getting more sun where it's at. I'm in Clairemont Mesa if that helps. 

The other thing I want to mention, and I'm not sure if you can tell from the pic. Is that the palm has like 5 different pups. There are two fairly large trunks, and then 3 smaller ones forming. So maybe it really does need more water because there are so many different trees trying to grow? 

Nice to meet you!

Treat king palms right and they’ll soar overhead like these Archontophoenix tuckeri in like ten or twelve years an eyeblink in geological time 

509D80F7-116A-44DD-8603-E66D0E3705F3.thumb.jpeg.e513f96f6dd971cda0a8a875c0d49d76.jpeg

 

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BigWaveDav3

This is a good thread and something that would have brought me comfort last year after planting 3 triples and 2 singles. I  was always worrying about overwatering and root rot when my friend kept saying that "kings love water". All of them survived our wet winter last year and are thriving with several new spears throughout the year.  Now I can obsess on fertilizer instead :D

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NickJames

This happened to the a. Cunninghamiana I planted recently. Definitely sunburn. Mine went from being in a nursery container for probably years surrounded by and under other palms. It is now out in the middle of a residential yard getting more sun and also exposure to hot wind. 
 

The new growth on mine is normal whereas the older fronds have the sunburn look. 
 

I planted it in the lowest part of my yard as nothing else will grow there except elephant ears and cannas. It’s basically a swamp. The top half inch of mulch will look dry but as soon as you go down half an inch it’s a watery mess. When I was digging the hole, I was basically shoveling out water. I added some cactus/palm mix and organic material to the planting area simply because our soil is so poor in Florida. From all accounts, my king palm is thriving in its permanent home, probably glad to finally have an unlimited source of water :)

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garek007

This is great news! I was so worried it was dying. I'm not super excited about what my water bill is going to look like though. :o

I also thought I read you shouldn't trim them because they are self cleaning, but good to hear you can. Mine is starting to look horrendous. 

Yes DoomsDave and Kim, I drive around Clairemont and am so envious of all the other magnificent palms. Two doors down my neighbor has beautiful king palms. I would have asked him about them, but haven't seen him outside. It's great to know that maybe some day mine will look like the ones above.

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Johnny Palmseed
34 minutes ago, garek007 said:

This is great news! I was so worried it was dying. I'm not super excited about what my water bill is going to look like though. :o

I also thought I read you shouldn't trim them because they are self cleaning, but good to hear you can. Mine is starting to look horrendous. 

Yes DoomsDave and Kim, I drive around Clairemont and am so envious of all the other magnificent palms. Two doors down my neighbor has beautiful king palms. I would have asked him about them, but haven't seen him outside. It's great to know that maybe some day mine will look like the ones above.

It sounds like you have already received good advice but in the future you can generally determine over or underwatering with a touch test. If the leaf tips are brown and soft, it usually is too wet or overwatering for the current conditions like cool temps. Dry and crispy is underwatering or too much heat. Aside from the desires of a particular plant to be more or less dry, I would say that being too dry is easier to recover from. Often, when a plant is overwatered it will show its distress too late and could die. Underwatering is easily fixed and most plants will recover.

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Tracy
1 hour ago, garek007 said:

I'm not super excited about what my water bill is going to look like though. 

That is where having mulch over the soil will help retain moisture.  When you decide to add more palms to the garden there are plenty to select from that won't demand as much water as this species.  That is where doing a little research here and/or asking for suggestions here can come in handy.  As Kim mentioned, you are in a good climate zone for growing a diverse number of palms both plenty of heat and yet not in a cold zone.

 

11 hours ago, BigWaveDav3 said:

Now I can obsess on fertilizer instead 

Dave, welcome to PT too, it looks like that was your first post!  Make it easy on yourself and get a slow release palm specific fertilizer which you can apply in the early spring, summer and autumn.  I have been using Palm Plus™ 13-5-8 with GAL-XeONE® which you can get at most irrigation supply stores locally in the North County in 50# bags, which is the cheapest way to get it for residential use.  The big boxes and most retail nurseries have competitive products that are palm specific (higher nitrogen) and slow release as well.  Vista has some of the best growing microclimates in Southern California with some really spectacular gardens, but due to it's rural nature, they tend to be harder to find as they are tucked away.  Mulch will be your friend too and help cut down on your watering bill.  That was one trick that eluded me for well over a decade.  My surfing friend and Master Gardener MattyB came by my house in Leucadia shortly after I had planted out some things from pots several years ago and gave me a hard time about how frugal I was being with mulch only to be spending much more on water.  So don't be slow to learn like me!

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garek007
1 hour ago, Johnny Palmseed said:

It sounds like you have already received good advice but in the future you can generally determine over or underwatering with a touch test. If the leaf tips are brown and soft, it usually is too wet or overwatering for the current conditions like cool temps. Dry and crispy is underwatering or too much heat. Aside from the desires of a particular plant to be more or less dry, I would say that being too dry is easier to recover from. Often, when a plant is overwatered it will show its distress too late and could die. Underwatering is easily fixed and most plants will recover.

This is great advice, thanks!

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garek007
10 minutes ago, Tracy said:

That is where doing a little research here and/or asking for suggestions here can come in handy.  

 

 

Yes, but I'd have gone King Palm anyway because they are my favorite. I just won't buy anymore!

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garek007
13 hours ago, Kim said:

 

Once a frond has gone completely brown, trim it off with clean loppers. 

Does it matter where I trim it? I've heard that if you do it wrong it can kill the entire tree.

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GottmitAlex
3 minutes ago, garek007 said:

Does it matter where I trim it? I've heard that if you do it wrong it can kill the entire tree.

Welcome @garek007!

You want to cut the petiole as close to the base as possible.  After a while the rest of the leaf base will detach from the crownshaft.

 

 

 

 

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garek007
3 minutes ago, GottmitAlex said:

Welcome @garek007!

You want to cut the petiole as close to the base as possible.  After a while the rest of the leaf base will detach from the crownshaft.

 

 

 

 

Thanks!

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Jim in Los Altos
1 hour ago, garek007 said:

Does it matter where I trim it? I've heard that if you do it wrong it can kill the entire tree.

If it’s an ugly mostly brown leaf, you can cut its stem close to the trunk. Otherwise, Kings are self cleaning and never need trimming. It would be a disaster for me if I needed mine trimmed. There are over 50 of them in my yard. The old leaves fall off on there own and are light in weight so they don’t damage anything below. Enjoy yours. They’re great palms and fast growers relative to many other palms. 

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C0131175-AE39-4264-9F7A-19A6A5CFCA43.thumb.jpeg.08f145b2b26652f2118d760ba66cb9ac.jpeg

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BE36FFB0-3A4B-4957-A86E-341CC090BF1A.jpeg

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Fusca
2 hours ago, garek007 said:

Does it matter where I trim it? I've heard that if you do it wrong it can kill the entire tree.

I agree with the advice given above.  Just don't try and rip off the frond/petiole and let it fall on its own as Alex stated.  Damage to the crownshaft is what can kill the palm.

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enigma99

To me looks like shock. Were you super careful with the roots? Maybe try some super thrive?

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BigWaveDav3
13 hours ago, GottmitAlex said:

Welcome @garek007!

You want to cut the petiole as close to the base as possible.  After a while the rest of the leaf base will detach from the crownshaft.

 

 

 

 

Good advice, the leaf base will continue to provide nutrients to the plant while it eventually browns and detaches. Don't be tempted to rip it off once the leaflets and petiole are browned but where it attaches to the crown is still partially green. You can introduce disease to the plant unnecessarily.

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BigWaveDav3
On 10/30/2020 at 9:16 AM, Tracy said:

That is where having mulch over the soil will help retain moisture.  When you decide to add more palms to the garden there are plenty to select from that won't demand as much water as this species.  That is where doing a little research here and/or asking for suggestions here can come in handy.  As Kim mentioned, you are in a good climate zone for growing a diverse number of palms both plenty of heat and yet not in a cold zone.

 

Dave, welcome to PT too, it looks like that was your first post!  Make it easy on yourself and get a slow release palm specific fertilizer which you can apply in the early spring, summer and autumn.  I have been using Palm Plus™ 13-5-8 with GAL-XeONE® which you can get at most irrigation supply stores locally in the North County in 50# bags, which is the cheapest way to get it for residential use.  The big boxes and most retail nurseries have competitive products that are palm specific (higher nitrogen) and slow release as well.  Vista has some of the best growing microclimates in Southern California with some really spectacular gardens, but due to it's rural nature, they tend to be harder to find as they are tucked away.  Mulch will be your friend too and help cut down on your watering bill.  That was one trick that eluded me for well over a decade.  My surfing friend and Master Gardener MattyB came by my house in Leucadia shortly after I had planted out some things from pots several years ago and gave me a hard time about how frugal I was being with mulch only to be spending much more on water.  So don't be slow to learn like me!

Thanks Tracy, I will definitely check  out your recommendation. Most of the big box stores carry Miracle Grow or Jobes and they don't go very far at their 4 and 8 lb sizes. I am using drip emitters and a few inches of mulch (staying away from the trunk by about a foot).

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garek007
On 10/30/2020 at 2:41 PM, Jim in Los Altos said:

If it’s an ugly mostly brown leaf, you can cut its stem close to the trunk. Otherwise, Kings are self cleaning and never need trimming. It would be a disaster for me if I needed mine trimmed. There are over 50 of them in my yard. The old leaves fall off on there own and are light in weight so they don’t damage anything below. Enjoy yours. They’re great palms and fast growers relative to many other palms. 

38455068-C755-4BB6-A7C0-7DBA4B3212C0.thumb.jpeg.fd1936c951a7163d8c6f60447ea07dd6.jpeg

C0131175-AE39-4264-9F7A-19A6A5CFCA43.thumb.jpeg.08f145b2b26652f2118d760ba66cb9ac.jpeg

B0BE4D77-7852-4887-8C5E-5F88E47104A5.thumb.jpeg.2ab4d392ae7e35bedad15794b95988db.jpeg

E37B7127-DF38-43D9-8DC6-3F99541ED4FE.thumb.jpeg.7ed563202b708413e6b46426d34e6f07.jpeg

DE676A0E-2971-452F-980D-A15D3F3EBC9E.thumb.jpeg.7cb59911f975a4f90301943691c8afc7.jpeg

BE36FFB0-3A4B-4957-A86E-341CC090BF1A.jpeg

Jim the tropical paradise you show in these pictures is exactly what I'd like to have one day. But not sure I want to pay that water bill!

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garek007
On 10/30/2020 at 6:01 PM, enigma99 said:

To me looks like shock. Were you super careful with the roots? Maybe try some super thrive?

I may have done it wrong. I did not pull the roots out like some say to do. I just took it out of the pot and plopped it in the hole. It seems my palm has completely stopped growing. It hasn't gotten worse, but hasn't gotten better and doesn't seem to be growing. Yesterday I set up a drip at the roots for 2 hours. Based on what I'm hearing, that still may not be enough water. 

I'm also wondering if it could just be that there are so many trunks fighting for resources... Should I remove one of these?

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enigma99
41 minutes ago, garek007 said:

I may have done it wrong. I did not pull the roots out like some say to do. I just took it out of the pot and plopped it in the hole. It seems my palm has completely stopped growing. It hasn't gotten worse, but hasn't gotten better and doesn't seem to be growing. Yesterday I set up a drip at the roots for 2 hours. Based on what I'm hearing, that still may not be enough water. 

I'm also wondering if it could just be that there are so many trunks fighting for resources... Should I remove one of these?

Google superthrive plant food, soak the plant with it.  Just keep the roots wet in the meantime. All you can do.

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garek007
2 hours ago, enigma99 said:

Google superthrive plant food, soak the plant with it.  Just keep the roots wet in the meantime. All you can do.

What do you mean "soak the plant"? Like dump the whole bottle?

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enigma99
6 hours ago, garek007 said:

What do you mean "soak the plant"? Like dump the whole bottle?

No read the instructions of the bottle. It’s concentrate

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Jim in Los Altos
12 hours ago, garek007 said:

Jim the tropical paradise you show in these pictures is exactly what I'd like to have one day. But not sure I want to pay that water bill!

My water bill is a lot less than my neighbors with lawns instead of palms. Monthly outdoor water costs during our summer dry period range $100-$150 to keep 300 palms, hundreds of plants happy, and large koi pond full. It’s well worth it. 

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Jim in Los Altos
12 hours ago, garek007 said:

I may have done it wrong. I did not pull the roots out like some say to do. I just took it out of the pot and plopped it in the hole. It seems my palm has completely stopped growing. It hasn't gotten worse, but hasn't gotten better and doesn't seem to be growing. Yesterday I set up a drip at the roots for 2 hours. Based on what I'm hearing, that still may not be enough water. 

I'm also wondering if it could just be that there are so many trunks fighting for resources... Should I remove one of these?

That’s actually good. You never want to disturb palm roots when planting! The whole root ball should go directly into the ground whole. Messing with the roots usually caused a big setback.  

Edited by Jim in Los Altos
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garek007
8 hours ago, Jim in Los Altos said:

My water bill is a lot less than my neighbors with lawns instead of palms. Monthly outdoor water costs during our summer dry period range $100-$150 to keep 300 palms, hundreds of plants happy, and large koi pond full. It’s well worth it. 

Yeah that's not too bad at all.

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