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Lady palm, what am I doing wrong


SilverMissy

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Hello, I got this lady palm for free at a garden center because of how unhealthy it was. The leaves haven't changed and I've had it for a hear and a half now.

The leaves have this green-yellow look to them. I have repotted it when I got it and I made the error of going too large of a pot size because of how pot bound it was but apparently they like it like that. Anyway, the leaves have not turned that deeper shade of green as you can see in the older leaves.

I've been watering every 2 weeks because of the large pot size but the leaves still look like it has been too dry from the look of the leave tips.

I feel like I'm doing something wrong.

Any suggestions?

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The pot size does not look too big.  Maybe others are aware to the contrary, but I have never heard of a palm preferring to be root bound.

It looks like the palm needs more water.  When you water, do you water thoroughly so the water drains out the bottom of the pot?

Rather than being on a schedule, just use your finger to test the moisture level.  If it is dry on top, give it a good soaking.

As for the leaf color, hard to tell exactly what is going on.  But three possibilities come to mind. Iron deficiency, nitrogen deficiency or a pest infestation.  Look at the under side of the leaves and look for possible spider mites.  If you do fertilize, for potted palms, I would recommend using a time release synthetic.

Hope at least some of this reply is helpful. 

Welcome to PT!

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4 hours ago, Hammer said:

The pot size does not look too big.  Maybe others are aware to the contrary, but I have never heard of a palm preferring to be root bound.

It looks like the palm needs more water.  When you water, do you water thoroughly so the water drains out the bottom of the pot?

Rather than being on a schedule, just use your finger to test the moisture level.  If it is dry on top, give it a good soaking.

As for the leaf color, hard to tell exactly what is going on.  But three possibilities come to mind. Iron deficiency, nitrogen deficiency or a pest infestation.  Look at the under side of the leaves and look for possible spider mites.  If you do fertilize, for potted palms, I would recommend using a time release synthetic.

Hope at least some of this reply is helpful. 

Welcome to PT!

Thank you for you reply. I do water it until he comes out the bottom but I don't think I'm doing it thoroughly. What I'm going to do it buy a lifted plant caddy so I can put a bowl under it and give it a good even watering. It's way to heavy for me to lift and move so I just stop watering when I see a bit of water come from the bottom. 

i just bought the slow release ferilizer and waiting for it to arrive since it's coming from the US. I couldn't find palm fertilizer in Toronto... who would have though ;) lol 

I have checked the plant and there is no insect infestation so I'm leaning on the side it's a nutrient deficiency. Let hope the palm gain fertilizer I bought helps. I plan on using half strength because lady palms grow soooo slow.

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Rhapis palms need very fast draining soils, so that you can water them regularly without getting a soggy soil. Since you have repotted it into a container which seems to be too big the soil becomes soggy when you water it regularly or it becomes too dry when you wait with watering. I would repot it into a smaller container and use a very fast draining mineral rich soil so that you can water the palm more often. But Rhapis palms don’t like wet feet. Your palm looks to me like a Rhapis subtilis.

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My photos at flickr: flickr.com/photos/palmeir/albums

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1 hour ago, Pal Meir said:

Rhapis palms need very fast draining soils, so that you can water them regularly without getting a soggy soil. Since you have repotted it into a container which seems to be too big the soil becomes soggy when you water it regularly or it becomes too dry when you wait with watering. I would repot it into a smaller container and use a very fast draining mineral rich soil so that you can water the palm more often. But Rhapis palms don’t like wet feet. Your palm looks to me like a Rhapis subtilis.

Okay, I'm confused now, Hammer said the pot size is fine and you're saying it too large. I went about 3 sizes up from the last pot. so it was severely root bound in an 8 inch pot and i put it in a 14 in pot... like a fool lol. Should i go to a 10 or 12 inch pot since its been in there for almost 2 years now?

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Pal Meir knows his palms. Whether you can find the materials he recommends I don't know. They aren't available locally here. If not, look for a fast draining organic garden soil that contains coarser materials like bark, etc. You can also add additional orchid bark and perlite. Don't use the cheap potting mix for houseplants. It turns to black sludge when wet and can cause palm roots to rot. 

Other thoughts: Your plant likely has nutritional deficiencies but fertilize carefully even with specialist fertilizer. More and more often are not necessarily better. As you live in Canada, your house is likely too cold, too dry and too dark for most palms, even sold-as-houseplants Rhapis. The good thing is you are heading into summer. If you can, let your palm go outside in the shade to get natural light and summer rainfall. In winter, place pot next to a south- or west-facing window. If that's not possible, provide supplemental light. Let it have a period of warmth - if your house is consistently below 20C for months that's a problem. Try to keep humidity above 50-60% in the room where your palm stays. This species comes from a very humid part of the world. Set the pot on a tray of rocks and water to boost humidity. Also, giving it a tepid shower in the bathroom every few days helps too. I've hear of people who, after they've taken a hot shower, place their palm in the steamy bathroom and shut the door so it can enjoy the heat and humidity.

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Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Florida
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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6 hours ago, SilverMissy said:

Okay, I'm confused now, Hammer said the pot size is fine and you're saying it too large. I went about 3 sizes up from the last pot. so it was severely root bound in an 8 inch pot and i put it in a 14 in pot... like a fool lol. Should i go to a 10 or 12 inch pot since its been in there for almost 2 years now?

Okay, So i just got home and started to dig the palm out. What I've discovered through my excavation :P

1) Just as you said, half the root system at the top is dry and the bottom is soggy and really compacted. 

2) Water was not evenly being distributed.

3) root system is only 8 inches so a 10-12"  pot would be fine. The rooted just grew downward so they're super long so i may give them a trim to fit the new pot I'm going to grab.

 

I'm going to mix orchid bark and more perlite into the soil so give it more aeration. Would that be sufficient? I don't have the media you listed in the picture, here.

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So I repotted it into a 12" pot. Made a potting mix of 3 parts potting soil, 1 part perlite, 1 part orchid bark. It drains much quicker now and it much more aerated. I also trimmed about an inch off the ends of the roots so it fit the pot. Overall, I think it looks a lot better but I'll leave you guys to judge since you're the experts.

 59125a0c284f0_newpalm.thumb.jpg.58f7bbc4

 

 

Edited by SilverMissy
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Pal is right.  If the new pot is three sizes bigger that is probably too much.  That said palms don't prefer to be root bound. ...unless you are intending to "bonsai" the palm.

As for using Palm Gain...excellent product.  Buuuuutttt be careful in the application.  It is NOT slow release.  I have burned two palms recently that are in the ground.

If possible,  I would avoid trimming roots on palms.  

Whereabouts are you in Toronto?  I happen to be in town this week for a trade show!

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I really didn't want to trim the roots but it wouldn't fit in pot size smaller. It wasn't much so I hope it will be okay. It needed out of the other pot it was way to large for it. 

Im just outside of Toronto in Oakville. 

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In the future, try to avoid trimming palm roots if you can. I don't know about Rhapis spp but some palms are very root sensitive and respond badly to root disturbance. Good that you repotted it in better draining mix. Do keep in mind the temperature, light and humidity issues, esp, this coming winter. As for feeding, look into a time release fertilizer like nutricote. You use it every few months.

Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Florida
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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36 minutes ago, PalmatierMeg said:

In the future, try to avoid trimming palm roots if you can. I don't know about Rhapis spp but some palms are very root sensitive and respond badly to root disturbance. Good that you repotted it in better draining mix. Do keep in mind the temperature, light and humidity issues, esp, this coming winter. As for feeding, look into a time release fertilizer like nutricote. You use it every few months.

I've read that lady palms a propagated through root division so let hope with my little trim nothing bad happens... I'll keep you guys posted. thanks everyone for the replies!

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I've split many rhapis.

Should be fine. Water with seasol or similar for root establishment. And let the top inch or two dry out before watering again. 

Give it nice bright defused light. 

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Sounds like you are on the right track.   While I don't really like pruning roots of most palms (though there are a few that can take that without much issue) I have to agree that Rhapis don't seem to mind root disturbance terribly.  Most are suckers cut from mother plants and dug out and potted up (after they have establish their own root system) and do just fine.  

As for Palm gain, I just got some myself. It is known to be a great product. I have friends that use it with much success.  For me, I usually only use HALF the recommended dosage quoted for any particular sized pot.  Maybe slightly more than that, but definitely not the full amount recommended.  I do this as to err on the side of caution.  I can always add more in small amounts later, as opposed to using too much and burn the palm.   Keep us posted!  Welcome to Palm Talk! 

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So everything has been good so far but today I noticed seed looking things coming out. It has never done that before... Don't know if thats a good sign or just regular occurance of a lady palm?

image.jpg

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Definitely looks happier. You won't get viable seeds. Rhapis have sexes on separate plants.

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Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Florida
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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On 5/21/2017, 9:48:45, SilverMissy said:

So everything has been good so far but today I noticed seed looking things coming out. It has never done that before... Don't know if thats a good sign or just regular occurance of a lady palm?

image.jpg

YAY!  Its happy!   Whatever you are doing it is loving it.  Just keep on keeping on now and it should do just fine.  Congrats! 

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  • 1 month later...
On 5/21/2017, 9:48:45, SilverMissy said:

So everything has been good so far but today I noticed seed looking things coming out. It has never done that before... Don't know if thats a good sign or just regular occurance of a lady palm?

image.jpg

Another update, please!

Naples (inland), FL - technically 10a but more like 9b in the winter :hmm:

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  • 3 weeks later...

We have one in the garden and has looked like that for 20 years.

Ours is probably a bad micro environment, we were told?  probably?

Or a badly draining part of the garden, although that is hard to imagine, when looking at it.

it is over 2 metres tall, and every leaf is always half dead.

I hope that you have more luck.

Cheers Steve

It is not dead, it is just senescence.

   

 

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 5/21/2017, 10:48:45, SilverMissy said:

So everything has been good so far but today I noticed seed looking things coming out. It has never done that before... Don't know if thats a good sign or just regular occurance of a lady palm?

image.jpg

How are the leaf tips now that a few months have passed? I'm curious how the repotting and new soil affected the rhapis, and how quickly. A pic or two please.

JT

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Shimoda, Japan, Lat: 36.6N, Long: 138.8

Zone 9B (kinda, sorta), Pacific Coast, 1Km inland, 75M above sea level
Coldest lows (Jan): 2-5C (35-41F), Hottest highs (Aug): 32-33C (87-91F)

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  • 1 month later...
On 8/24/2017, 6:38:09, JT in Japan said:

How are the leaf tips now that a few months have passed? I'm curious how the repotting and new soil affected the rhapis, and how quickly. A pic or two please.

JT

I'm curious too!  Keep us posted and post pics! 

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Not sure if I see too much of improvement but they are slow growing plants. I did notice the leaves a slightly greener so the fertilizer worked. I put it outside for the summer.

 

image.jpg

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  • 5 months later...

Hello everyone! 

Winter has come and gone and so has a few of my palms stems. Not sure why they died but I trimmed the dead off and it’s left the middle bare. I’m not really sure if I should repot even smaller. Or maybe divide the plant? Here are a few pictures. The interesting thing is a a really dark green batch of leaves has come up.

 

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47D955E1-5F70-4B2D-973A-1A89EFF4D63F.jpeg

6F9CE2DC-8FC2-40D6-BD0E-9B264C499427.jpeg

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Rhapis is a clustering palm. The new leaves are new stems the palm is sending up. I suggest leaving it in the same pot. But be very careful not to overwater it, which I suspect you have done. Don't water until the top 1" of soil is dry and don't let water collect and sit in the tray. When your weather has warmed up the palm may appreciate being outside in the shade, if possible. 

Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Florida
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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40 minutes ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Rhapis is a clustering palm. The new leaves are new stems the palm is sending up. I suggest leaving it in the same pot. But be very careful not to overwater it, which I suspect you have done. Don't water until the top 1" of soil is dry and don't let water collect and sit in the tray. When your weather has warmed up the palm may appreciate being outside in the shade, if possible. 

This palm hates me, lol. I barely watered it in the winter. Anyway, I’ll be putting it outside in a months time when the chance of frost is gone. 

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I would guess that, from my limited experience with potted plants, you may never get that plant to look any good. Most potted plants that do not initially do well for me rarely improve with time or effort. Not only potted plants either. As I mentioned earlier my 20yr old 3m tall clump of Rhapis in the garden still looks like yours, just much bigger. I suggest that you give it away or keep it and hate it back, but get something else that you will enjoy on a daily basis. 

I reckon that life is to short to dance with ugly people and care for ugly plants. (I'm lucky that Lizzy doesn't agree with that.), Get another pretty little palm and put beside it and also get a little pot plant for a bright window like a Nepenthes or Phalaenopsis, they will love you back.

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Cheers Steve

It is not dead, it is just senescence.

   

 

 

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On 2018-04-08, 9:53:49, gtsteve said:

I would guess that, from my limited experience with potted plants, you may never get that plant to look any good. Most potted plants that do not initially do well for me rarely improve with time or effort. Not only potted plants either. As I mentioned earlier my 20yr old 3m tall clump of Rhapis in the garden still looks like yours, just much bigger. I suggest that you give it away or keep it and hate it back, but get something else that you will enjoy on a daily basis. 

I reckon that life is to short to dance with ugly people and care for ugly plants. (I'm lucky that Lizzy doesn't agree with that.), Get another pretty little palm and put beside it and also get a little pot plant for a bright window like a Nepenthes or Phalaenopsis, they will love you back.

Lol! Some great advice except for the phalaenopsis suggestion, as there is currently an orchid genocide happening in my house. I’ll continue love my rhapis even if it’s one sided. I live with two cats; I’ve grown accustom to this one sided relationship. 

 

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My two cents worth. Mist it everyday with water or put a glass of water in the pot. Not enouph humidity.

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@SilverMissy, see my private message ("PM")

I'm from Ohio, just south of Ontario, and growing plants of any kind indoors isn't easy. That lack of humidity in the winter is tough, but some plants can take it.

Sometimes it's hard to avoid burnt leaves. Don't sweat it! Your palm's blooming. It's happy enough!

I note that you have two kitties . . . . maybe they're using the pot in lieu of the cat-box at times? (I have five, and they'll do that, oh yes. Boys and girls, both. Neutered or not. I know.) Kitty pee is destructive. Oh yes. Ick, but the love is worth it. To me anyway.

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Thanks guys! Another bloom is coming out I just noticed today. What I’ll do is put a humidifier in there to help until I can get it outside.

Thankfully, I have not had issues with my cat urinating in the plants. 

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  • 5 months later...
On 2018-04-10, 9:07:02, DoomsDave said:

@SilverMissy, see my private message ("PM")

I'm from Ohio, just south of Ontario, and growing plants of any kind indoors isn't easy. That lack of humidity in the winter is tough, but some plants can take it.

Sometimes it's hard to avoid burnt leaves. Don't sweat it! Your palm's blooming. It's happy enough!

I note that you have two kitties . . . . maybe they're using the pot in lieu of the cat-box at times? (I have five, and they'll do that, oh yes. Boys and girls, both. Neutered or not. I know.) Kitty pee is destructive. Oh yes. Ick, but the love is worth it. To me anyway.

Those are half your seeds! Next year I’ll do the other half, Thanks :) 

image.jpg

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