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New Windmill Palm Problem


Tropical6b
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Hello,

2 weeks ago I received (2) 6' Windmill Palms. They arrived in good shape, with their root ball wrapped in plastic. I planted them into the ground into a mix of 50/50 sandy soil/Miracle Grow moisture control potting soil. Fast forward to today and 5 of the older fronds have turned yellow on one of the palms. The palm has 4 spears growing simultaneously, which all are healthy.

Of the two palms, one has no yellowing of fronds and one does not. There planted in the same soil/yard.

The grower told me not to fertilize for the first month.

I've included a picture of some fronds from June 5th and June 6th just to show the rapid deterioration that has occurred in one day.

Ant thoughts /help would greatly be appreciated.

Joe

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Welcome! Windmill palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) are great palms for Virginia too! I often lose some leaves due to shipping stress in all plants, but have never received palms of that size. If the central spear still looks good I wouldn't worry too much. I've learned on this forum to try to wait until the leaf base/petiole is totally brown before pruning it off so no need to hurry removing the yellowing fronds. Not likely to be a fertilizer problem since the other petioles and leaves look green.

I'd ask the seller what he or she thinks as well as hoping those more experienced with moving trunking palms on this forum will chime in.

If all else fails, we'd be glad to send you free of charge seeds (or small plants) as they volunteer in our yard. It would be a bit of a wait until they trunk though...

Keep us posted with your progress.

Cindy Adair

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Transplant shock. I like to cut off the dying fronds (you will get varying opinions on this) and you can fertilize a little early. The palm is rapidly shuttling nutrients to the younger fronds and elsewhere in the palm. It looks bad (the yellowing) but happens to well established palms also so its natural.

As long as the spear and younger fronds are still green then it is okay.

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That palm looks like it's water stressed. Did you soak the rootball of the palm before planting it? If the rootballs were dry before you planted them, which they usually are to make shipping easier, then chances are the rootballs are repelling water and the palms are slowly drying out.

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apaandssa, bbrantley and brahea axel. Thank you for your responses. I've been going crazy surfing the web trying to figure out what is wrong. All I can come up with is potassium deficiency.

I talked to the grower he said "it was being watered to much" to let it dry out. We been getting more than normal rain fall here lately.

There are 4 spears growing at the same time.

bbrantley you mentioned the palm is shuttling nutrients to younger fronds. Would adding a fertilizer stop the yellowing/necrosic of the fronds/tips? The grower stated to wait one month before fertilizing, if it will stop the derterioration, can I add the fertilizer sooner?

Brahea like you, the grower mention "too much water" also.

I hosed the rootball down slightly to keep it wet upon arrival.

If the rootball is repelling water how can I get to absorb water?

Thanks guys for all your help.

Joe

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Just to add some additional info. The deterioration seems to extend from 5 fronds to now going on the 7th one. just wanted to know if it will stop and what can I do to help the palm.

Thanks again.

Joe

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Stick your finger into the rootball, you need to get in there and see if it's dry. If it's dry, then get a hose with a nozzle, slightly unscrew the nozzle from the hose so that there is a steady drip coming out. Then place that right up next to the base of the palm, leave it on for a couple of hours and It should slowly re-wet the rootball.

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If the roots were wrapped in plastic you may have more than normal root loss.

I would not fert and would actually drench them with Superthrive or some other

root stimulator as they need to grow new roots-give them some time,they need to

heal from the bottom up so it will take some time to see progress but it will come with spear movement.

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As a rule of thumb, I never put a palm that has been bare rooted or root wrapped into full sun. It goes into shade for about three weeks to allow the roots to settle in a pot. If it's small and can be planted out, then I put up shade cloth for a little while. That works like a charm.

But check the rootball for dryness, I bet you will find it lacks water.

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I've found that with Trachycarpus fortunei, they can also lose old fronds rapidly upon transplanting if the roots stay too wet, and aren't getting proper air exchange. You might want to dig down by the side of the rootballand check to see how wet/dry the soil is, or whether there's standing water in the root zone. I recently planted a 7 foot trunked Trachy here in Oakland and started to see the same thing. I also suggested more water as we had had two weeks of 95°F weather, so I just assumed it was too little water. Come to find upon actually checking the soil 2 feet down, it wasn't draining properly. Fortunately, like your palm, the newest spears still looked good, I reduced the irrigation, added better draing soil mix all around, and raised the root ball a bit. So it pays to check with a soil probe or digging to see which water state applies in your case.

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I've found that with Trachycarpus fortunei, they can also lose old fronds rapidly upon transplanting if the roots stay too wet, and aren't getting proper air exchange. You might want to dig down by the side of the rootballand check to see how wet/dry the soil is, or whether there's standing water in the root zone. I recently planted a 7 foot trunked Trachy here in Oakland and started to see the same thing. I also suggested more water as we had had two weeks of 95°F weather, so I just assumed it was too little water. Come to find upon actually checking the soil 2 feet down, it wasn't draining properly. Fortunately, like your palm, the newest spears still looked good, I reduced the irrigation, added better draing soil mix all around, and raised the root ball a bit. So it pays to check with a soil probe or digging to see which water state applies in your case.

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Jim, thanks for the reply. The tree arrived with a root ball dirt included wrapped in plastic. Here's the kicker there is spear movement 4 to be exact.

Is it safe to say that spear movement is a sign of how the palm is doing.

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Brahea thanks for the reply.

I checked the soil with a moisture meter. It's been moist/wet for 14 days straight. Reason being is that right next to the palm I added sod to patch up a small bald spot in the lawn. I've been adding water to the sod every other day thus water would run off into the palm. Maybe it's stressed from overwater.

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A 7' trunked trachy, WOW that must be awesome looking. I hope mine will reach 7'. If I can get these two to grow, I'll upgrade to something bigger.

Dave, Once I take a sample of the dirt around the root zone, how will I know if there is standing water? Will the dirt be really wet?

I've stopped all watering. Covered the ground around the palm with a tarp because we are expecting rain. And I'm going to wait till the dirt dries out a little bit before the next watering.

Dave how would I know when this problem has passed?

According to your post I'm going through the same process you experienced with your palm. Even though some fronds are dying at least I now have some direction of what the cause is.

Thank you Dave and everyone that provided any info. I researched each and every suggestion. I truly appreciate it.

I will keep everyone posted so others can learn from my mistakes.

Joe

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  • 9 months later...
  • 5 weeks later...

Also, I am wondering why you put miracle grow on your windmill Palm? I've been advised by many local palm growers here in Seattle area to never ever put miracle grow on palms. It could be a non factor but if I had to guess I'd say this may have hurt your palm or possibly contributed to the issue.

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