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Help save my potted majesty palm


AlexaSay

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Hello friends, 

I am very new to indoor plants but I love them! I purchased my Palm a few months ago and the ends of the pronds started to turn brown. We recently took a week long trip and I came back to a fully yellow prond. 

I have repotted the palm about a month ago and used some liquid plant food. I water it enough but not too much because the soil seems to keep damp when I check. 

What am I doing wrong ? 

Also should I cut the prond that is dying ? 

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Looks like 2 trees in there. Mine has done the same thing from too much water and not enough drainage mixed in with not warm enough temps 

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Would you suggest separating them? That’s how I bought them and I was afraid to damage the roots by separating them when I repotted. 

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Hi Aleksandra,

Welcome to PalmTalk! A few thoughts from me, thinking ahead. First of all, I wouldn't go to the trouble of separating them if you're planning to keep them indoors. They were no doubt planted as a pair to make the foliage appear fuller. My concern would be for your ceramic pot, which appears to have a lip around the top and vertical sides. When the root ball gets bigger, you will have to resort to smashing the pot before you can lift the root ball out, which will eventually become one solid mass of roots.

If you look at the base of the palms you can see where the old fronds have been cut off. It sounds as though you've not done that yourself, but it's all you need to do with that dead frond. Use a small serrated knife, bend the frond outwards, and saw gently through the green part of the frond from the back whilst putting pressure on the frond. Once the knife breaks through you can cut the frond off cleanly. Old frond bases turn very hard and woody, so it's easiest to do whilst the lower part is still green.

I'm sure others will chime in with help on re-potting when the time comes, and the importance of drainage.

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Thank you so much for the advice ! I have trimmed the frond and will continue to see what happens. 

The pot doesn’t have a lip but that is definitely something to think about. Would you suggest a pot that is shaped differently for future reference ? I would hate to smash it. 

And another question comes to mind. Should I trim the browning ends on the green fronds or let them be ? I’ve heard mixed answers reading web articles and don’t want to hurt the Palm. 

Thank you so so much! 

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Ideally, the pot should be wider at the opening than the base, allowing the compacted soil and root ball to be lifted cleanly out of the pot. It's a good idea to have the palm in a plastic 'tapered' pot like you would find in a nursery, then sit it inside a larger decorative pot. Not sure if your ceramic pot has a hole in the bottom, but it should, given that your palm is planted directly in it. Good drainage is paramount. If you did re-pot it into a plastic nursery pot that sits inside a larger decorative pot, the decorative pot could be any shape you like, and it wouldn't affect the maintenance of your palm. Furthermore, if the decorative pot didn't have a hole in the bottom, it could act as a water reservoir - then your palm could 'bottom feed' which is always preferable.

Trimming brown tips is a matter of personal taste IMO. It doesn't really do any harm, but could be considered as 'chasing your own tail'. That is to say, once you trim them, the cut edges will not stay green for very long. Then the cut edges will turn slightly grey/brown and you'll want to trim them again! It's a vicious circle, really. With pinnate palms you can get away with snipping off the odd leaflet that dries up, but only if it got scorched or something.

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Speaking as a Pot-Palm grower in Nebraska, I have had several Ravenea rivularis in the past and they always have brown tips.  ALWAYS.  Don't cut the tips, or if you do only cut through the brown parts.  Cutting green creates a new damaged edge that will brown all over again.

As John has said above, you're going to want a different pot, one that has angled walls, for easier transplanting.  Additionally, I prefer pots that have saucers underneath to catch excess water or those bottom-watering pots John mentioned.  Some palms have an annoying habit of loving water but not liking "wet feet", so they need to be watered often and then allowed to completely drain with no standing water.  Thankfully (for my dry climate) R. rivularis is not one of these palms, it's a water hog.  You almost can't overwater the thing and I've seen them actually sitting in the edge of koi ponds and the like.  When I still had them they were too big for bottom-watering pots, but I did keep a large saucer under the big pot each was in.  I would water until I saw water come out the bottom and then I would leave it in the saucer as a reservoir.  If you keep it happy it will be too big for your living space in about 4 or 5 years, maybe more if it grows slow.  

Issues:  I put mine outside every year over the summer.  Since they rarely got direct sun while inside they almost always got leaf-burn when they went back outside and looked like crap for a month or two.  Secondly, R.rivularis is the only species I have ever lost one to fungus in the crown.  Maybe it's being too careful, but I always water the dirt, not the palm, and only allow the leaves to rinse of dust from rainwater. 

That's my $0.02 

"Ph'nglui mglw'napalma Funkthulhu R'Lincolnea wgah'palm fhtagn"
"In his house at Lincoln, dread Funkthulhu plants palm trees."

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On 4/24/2018, 12:56:25, AlexaSay said:

Would you suggest separating them? That’s how I bought them and I was afraid to damage the roots by separating them when I repotted. 

As John said previously I wouldn't bother to try and separate them unless they just get too big for you.  Yours is an attractive plant.  I grew one in my garden when I lived in Corpus Christi and they do love lots of water and fertilizer.  I think your main concern will be light, but it looks like it's in a good spot.  It was funny, shortly after reading this thread I was looking through some old threads from this forum and saw this one:

http://www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?/topic/9769-looking-for-20-majesty-palms/

There must be something about Massachusetts and majesty palms!  I don't know if that member eventually found her wedding centerpieces.  Good luck with the palm!

Jon

Jon Sunder

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*** UPDATE 

after trimming the one yellow prond on the palm within a week it seems like 3 more are now dying ?! 

Some of the green probes seem to be wrinkled and limp as shown on the photo with my hand. 

Is this normal and I should trim those as well or is this a sign that I need to change something ? 

Thanks so much for all the helpful advice so far! I love reading your input and wisdom! Hopefully this guy gets well soon because I’m worried! 

 

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Yeah I did this a while ago it’s from over watering it or not good enough drainage. This will keep happening until only the spear is left. Trust me on this now this probably was not from under watering 

you need to get the tree into some shade 

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Unfortunately I did cover the hole in the bottom of the pot, but it’s not soaked. It’s pretty much dry for the most part with a bit of moisture if you stick your finger inside. I try not to water too much since it doesn’t have drainage 

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Should I repot the tree again ? Also my house is pretty dark except by this one window. Should I move it into shade? 

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1 hour ago, AlexaSay said:

Should I repot the tree again ? Also my house is pretty dark except by this one window. Should I move it into shade? 

Yes, repot it, but don’t move it into shade. The palm needs a pot with draining holes and a well draining soil mix which does not get soggy even if watered daily. R rivularis is growing near rivers and needs always plenty of fresh (O2 rich) water. As examples below a mineral rich fast draining soil mix and a pot (with 4 holes) and a 2nd pot (with holes) used as »saucer«:

5ae88542c7b34_SoilP102086768.thumb.jpg.a

5ae885461d2a0_PlasticPotP1020872.thumb.j

5ae8856399c3a_PlasticPots3xP1020873.thum

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

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With no drainage holes in the pot anytime you watered it just sat there at the bottom and had probably done a number to the roots even with going down a few inches with your fingers you cant see or feel the muck that will be there. Get that puppy in fresh soil immediately and get drainage holes and good luck. All my fronds except the new spears have died 

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1 hour ago, Pal Meir said:

Yes, repot it, but don’t move it into shade. The palm needs a pot with draining holes and a well draining soil mix which does not get soggy even if watered daily. R rivularis is growing near rivers and needs always plenty of fresh (O2 rich) water. As examples below a mineral rich fast draining soil mix and a pot (with 4 holes) and a 2nd pot (with holes) used as »saucer«:

5ae885461d2a0_PlasticPotP1020872.thumb.j

Oops: … and a pot (with 4 holes) and a 2nd pot (without holes) used as »saucer«:

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

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Thanks so much for the answers! I would love to keep a somewhat decorative ceramic pot since it really adds a nice look to my living room.

Is it possible to just uncover the whole in the bottom replace the soil and maybe sit the pot in a saucer ? I would love to avoid the plastic pots if possible 

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7 hours ago, AlexaSay said:

Thanks so much for the answers! I would love to keep a somewhat decorative ceramic pot since it really adds a nice look to my living room.

Is it possible to just uncover the whole in the bottom replace the soil and maybe sit the pot in a saucer ? I would love to avoid the plastic pots if possible 

Why not this way: Repot it into a plastic pot with big/many holes and use a nice ceramic pot as »saucer«?

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

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Update *** 

palm is repotted in a new plastic pot with lots of holes like the one in the photo but with the holes punched out. I’m putting it outside to grab some extra sun and I watered it pretty well after repotting. 

Hope this helps 

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For now I’m keeping it in the plastic one because I’ve been taking the palm outside everyday to the backyard to get as much sun as possible. It’s so much lighter now to carry ha ha. 

I’m thinking when it recuperates some I’ll look for a nice woven basket to stick it inside. 

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  • 2 years later...

Hi Alexa,

How has your palm held up since repotting? I was recently gifted this plant and it has been showing the same symptoms as yours. Originally, it was in a plastic pot without good drainage, so I did not water it often (allowing it to dry almost completely between waterings). After repotting to a clay pot (better drainage holes and moisture absorption), I have began to water it slightly more often while keeping it approximately 5 feet away from an East-facing window. It seems like the palm leaves become increasingly yellowish by the day. After yellowing for a while, the leaves turn completely brown and dry out. At first, this was only happening to the lower and smaller fronds. Now, it seems like its working its way up to the leaves of the larger fronds. I noticed that some of these leaves have a little tiny black spot near the yellowing. Other leaves have tiny little holes, almost like something was chomping on the middle of the leaves. I am trying to figure out what's making it mad... I don't think its been sunburnt or overwatered. I read that the little black dots could be indicative of fungi or root rot, but the roots looked really healthy when I repotted. Any tips would be greatly appreciated! 

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Everyone says majesty’s are water hogs. Maybe true in the ground. In pots remember get that water in and out fast nice moist soil. Yellowing leaves on potted ones is from lack of oxygen to the roots. Nice fluffy soil works well and only water when it needs it. 

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  • 7 months later...
On 5/1/2018 at 11:32 AM, Rickybobby said:

With no drainage holes in the pot anytime you watered it just sat there at the bottom and had probably done a number to the roots even with going down a few inches with your fingers you cant see or feel the muck that will be there. Get that puppy in fresh soil immediately and get drainage holes and good luck. All my fronds except the new spears have died 

It sounds like my palm currently. A couple of the stems are soft and yellowing fronds. I bought the palm a year ago and it doesn’t have drain holes. Is it ok to repot given that it’s winter??

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  • 1 month later...

All of you are so handy to follow!  No yellowing going on but brown tips on the leaves! Boy, were you correct!! I wish I had not ever started to trim them, however I saw a plant caretaker do this in our local mall so I did!  Live and learn right?!! My soil, drainage, light all good but have read epson salts once a month added to water is good. Any thoughts?  I also have to run a plant humidifier in the winter(cold, dry, northern climate) it seems to like it but I still wasn’t watering enough either (after listening to this chat) thank you so much!! 

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On 3/6/2021 at 9:06 AM, C.B said:

but have read epson salts once a month added to water is good. Any thoughts?

Yeah I mean you could dilute some epsom for the added manganese, but if you are using a good 8-2-12 or something like that they add manganese as a trace element so it’s covered there, no need to worry about adding epsom to your monthly leach.  But still keep up with regular leaching for sure.  My two rivies love it.

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Be careful about monkeying with nutritional elements until you learn some of the chemistry involved. Epsom salt = Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4). I think of Magnesium (Mg) as the 4th major element after Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Magnesium is the yin to Potassium's yang - they balance each other. If you continually add Mg when watering your palm you will upset the chemical balance between them and cause a K imbalance.

Manganese (Mn) is one of the essential minor elements. It is totally different from and not interchangeable with Magnesium (Mg). Manganese deficiency causes the well known disorder "Frizzletop", which can be treated with applications of Manganese Sulfate (MnSO4).

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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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8 hours ago, PalmatierMeg said:

Be careful about monkeying with nutritional elements until you learn some of the chemistry involved. Epsom salt = Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4). I think of Magnesium (Mg) as the 4th major element after Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Magnesium is the yin to Potassium's yang - they balance each other. If you continually add Mg when watering your palm you will upset the chemical balance between them and cause a K imbalance.

Manganese (Mn) is one of the essential minor elements. It is totally different from and not interchangeable with Magnesium (Mg). Manganese deficiency causes the well known disorder "Frizzletop", which can be treated with applications of Manganese Sulfate (MnSO4).

:greenthumb: YES A MILLION TIMES thank you Meg I totally mixed those up.  But I stand by them going on just fine with the Palm Gain or any other with a low phosphorus and not needing to do any Epsom feedings.

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