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Indoor Pygmy Date Palm - any advice?


Molobrian
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Hey there, I'm new to PalmTalk and very thankful for this community! Very cool to see so many enthusiasts.

We're house plant nerds and have only ever lost one plant (dang hibiscus, just couldn't keep up), but definitely not experts. Our new pygmy date palm ("Big Boy") is making me feel a little nervous. We had just bought a new condo, so to celebrate, I bought this lovely 3.5-foot tall 3-stalk pygmy from the local nursery, which at the time was quite green and vibrant. It was in its regular temporary container for a few weeks, which made it difficult to water, but we did our best. At first we had him near the large windows, but in a more shaded corner. Now he's fully in the north-facing windows as pictured, which get tons and tons of indirect light all day. We were able to repot it in a larger planter recently, using basic potting soil and a small layer of aluminum cans for filtration (After reading some threads here, I think we could do better!). We have since been watering about once a week based on some articles from the web, and its starting to look quite dry, yellow and droopy.  My guess is its underwatered, so I've moved to watering it about every 3 days or so (only 3 times), but I'm really looking to understand how often and how much we should be watering, as not to further damage it. Additionally, is there anything else we should be considering to figure out the best way to bring this guy back to life? Thank you so much for your help!XHSkKrp.jpeg

fLlNRYi.jpg

JuVpSXb.jpg

 

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On 8/17/2021 at 9:13 PM, Molobrian said:

Hey there, I'm new to PalmTalk and very thankful for this community! Very cool to see so many enthusiasts.

We're house plant nerds and have only ever lost one plant (dang hibiscus, just couldn't keep up), but definitely not experts. Our new pygmy date palm ("Big Boy") is making me feel a little nervous. We had just bought a new condo, so to celebrate, I bought this lovely 3.5-foot tall 3-stalk pygmy from the local nursery, which at the time was quite green and vibrant. It was in its regular temporary container for a few weeks, which made it difficult to water, but we did our best. At first we had him near the large windows, but in a more shaded corner. Now he's fully in the north-facing windows as pictured, which get tons and tons of indirect light all day. We were able to repot it in a larger planter recently, using basic potting soil and a small layer of aluminum cans for filtration (After reading some threads here, I think we could do better!). We have since been watering about once a week based on some articles from the web, and its starting to look quite dry, yellow and droopy.  My guess is its underwatered, so I've moved to watering it about every 3 days or so (only 3 times), but I'm really looking to understand how often and how much we should be watering, as not to further damage it. Additionally, is there anything else we should be considering to figure out the best way to bring this guy back to life? Thank you so much for your help!XHSkKrp.jpeg

fLlNRYi.jpg

JuVpSXb.jpg

 

I'm no expert and still a noob but I would guess that the water has nowhere to drain in the pot and since Phoenix roebelenii like well draining soil and from what I've seen on palmtalk, you can't really overwater them but if the soil is poor draining then maybe that's why its not doing so good?

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@ZPalms makes good points. Does that pot drain? If not, your palms likely have root rot - they sure look like they do. Pots should have drain holes and your palms should never sit in trays of water. You can unpot them (you have 3 solitary palms in that pot) to examine the roots. Healthy roots are white, dead/dying roots are black/brown. Your potting mix should be loose and drain very well. Sounds like you may be using ordinary black potting soil that turns to muck when watered. You also have to be careful not to overwater which can lead to root rot. Where are you?

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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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Thanks for your help @ZPalms and @PalmatierMeg! I'm in the Northeast, re: location.

I took Big Boy out of the pot to check out the roots and add a better drainage layer. The roots seem fairly healthy to me, but I'm attaching photos for the experts :) Let me know if you see any signals?

After pulling him out, I added about 2 inches of gravel/rock and put him back in. Overall the soil didn't seem mucky, maybe a bit too moist but didn't seem too concerning. Overall the soil feels pretty loose around the tighter roots. Trimmed back the dead leaves as well, there's still some good green on him. I also added some palm fertilizer sticks to the pot. Hoping these adjustments will help bring him back.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Molobrian said:

Thanks for your help @ZPalms and @PalmatierMeg! I'm in the Northeast, re: location.

I took Big Boy out of the pot to check out the roots and add a better drainage layer. The roots seem fairly healthy to me, but I'm attaching photos for the experts :) Let me know if you see any signals?

After pulling him out, I added about 2 inches of gravel/rock and put him back in. Overall the soil didn't seem mucky, maybe a bit too moist but didn't seem too concerning. Overall the soil feels pretty loose around the tighter roots. Trimmed back the dead leaves as well, there's still some good green on him. I also added some palm fertilizer sticks to the pot. Hoping these adjustments will help bring him back.

 

 

IMG-3689.jpg

IMG-3688.jpg

I know nothing about roots so I'll leave that to somebody else :blush2: but I do think you should amend this soil with things to make drainage more efficient and either cut the bottom of this pot and add drainage holes or put it in a brand new pot with a drainage dish that can be emptied for the best of the palms health! :shaka-2:

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Does the pot have drain holes or not? If not, that's almost surely the problem. You will need to replace the potting mix, toss or drill holes in the ceramic pot before disinfecting it or buy a new pot with adequate drain holes. All 3 palms are looking very far gone and I'm not sure if they can be saved. Fertilizer won't help their problem. Before you invest a lot more time and effort, consider tossing those palms and start over. Pygmy dates are common.

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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Start over with new palms and a new pot. As already mentioned, these are easy to find, they should be located somewhere in the indoor palms section at a big box store. If you want to keep the current pot, drill holes in the bottom then put the new palms in. 
Something i would carefully try is to lightly pull on the center spear. If they come out, you might as well throw those in the dumpster.

Palms - 3 S. romanzoffiana, 2 W. bifurcata, 7 W. robusta, 3 R. rivularis, 1 B. odorata, 1 B. nobilis, 2 P. roebelenii, 2 S. palmetto, 1 H. lagenicaulis, 1 A. merillii, 3 P. sylvestris

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A few things about these palms. 

 

1.  Does your pot drain / have drain holes?  This is a MUST.  

2. Your soil looks too fine to me.   I have one that i've grown for 4 years now from a small plant to a tree as tall as I am.   I make my own potting mix for it (and almost everything I grow in pots now) , and its VERY COURSE.  Its very well / fast draining, and I used a layer of lava rocks in the bottom of the pot for added drainage and for weight.  My palm seems to love my mix and is healthy as a horse and gorgeous.  These palms do not like wet feet / sitting in water. They like fast draining potting media the best.  This is especially important for indoor palms in pots that do not get dried out by sun / heat.   Were I you id make my own mix.  Here is what I use: 

5 parts fast draining palm / cactus soil mix

2-3 parts pine bark fines / orchid bark 

2 parts Pearlite. 

3.   Pygmy date palms are full sun palms and like high humidity from my experience.   They CAN be kept indoors but this is not ideal and can be a struggle.   I would imagine that a south window is needed as when I lived up north that is what I had mine in during winter indoors. It did not decline as much in that siting.    You'll also want to turn the palm every few weeks as the top will grow to point at the window.    If it is straight, a quarter turn every 2 weeks or so should be fine.  

Best of luck with it and welcome to Palmtalk! 

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