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Phoenix canariensis drooping leaves and black spots HELP!


Selgd
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Hi! I'm new here. I bought a small Phoenix canariensis 3 weeks ago, my intention is to plant it on the ground when it gets bigger. It came in a small plastic nursery pot and I left it there for a week so it could get used to it's new home and then repotted to a bigger terracotta pot. I live in Gijon, north of Spain and our weather is mild, rarely goes below 0°C during winter and is usually 19-23°C during summer, but it rains quite a lot. There are lots of Phoenix canariensis around, in parks, yards... My palm is on the porch, having full sun during the afternoon, and protected from the wind but not the rain. It looked pretty healthy except for some black spots in the base of the outer leaves. Now those leaves are drooping, losing it's bright green color and they have several black spots. Also the tips of the leaves look brownish-white. I watered it with distilled water twice in three weeks because it is raining 3 times a week. It looks like a new leave is in the center and it looks healthy. What is the issue here? What I am missing? Too much water? Too little? Maybe a fungal infection? I'm uploading some pictures. My daughter was born in the Canary Islands and I was really hoping to have this palm for years and watch them grow together. Please help me!

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The black stains/spots are spreading. Does it look like a fungal infection? Now there are three leaves drooping and turning brownish. Today I watered it and used some slow release fertilizer but it only made the palm look worse. I think it's going to die soon... IMG_20220629_222653192.jpg

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I think it is some overwatering issue. If I were you I would wash out the current soil and replace it with a 50% perlite 50% potting soil mix, perlite really helps with overwatering and fungus issues.

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The soil does look really rich.  For potted palms you'll want a fast draining mixture with drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.  There are several great threads on here about people's favorite potting mixes, but fast drainage is key.  My personal mix is equal parts generic topsoil, perlite, small pine bark chunks, and Sakrete Paver Base (limestone gravel).  I used to use Turface MVP, which is expanded fired clay, but I discovered it holds more water than perlite or pumice, and was preventing my potted palms from drying out.  My notes on watering issues are:

  • Underwatering brown at the edges first, later followed by yellowing of the whole leaf.
  • Overwatering can be drooping fronds turning yellowish and losing color

One problem with overwatering is that you can end up with root rot...and then the visible symptoms on the leaves look like it's underwatered.  The root rot prevents the palm from absorbing water...so it looks like it's underwatered...so you add more water...and make the rot worse!  :o 

Here's one of the good threads about preferred soil mixes:

 

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And here's another great thread on soil mixes for potted palms:

 

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Thank you! That was my first thought but it's so odd, I only watered it twice in 3 weeks, like every 10 days or so. It rained on it but it's partially sheltered and it didn't rain that much. I used this thing that tells you soil humidity before watering and it said dry. But I watered it for the third time before your post and it's worse now so I'm not so sure. I'm using a universal substrate that has coconut fiber and perlite, and in the bottom I put some gravel. It's a terracotta pot with holes for drainage. I'm scared to kill it if I take it out of the pot again, should I try adding more perlite?

On 6/30/2022 at 6:58 PM, Zeni said:

I think it is some overwatering issue. If I were you I would wash out the current soil and replace it with a 50% perlite 50% potting soil mix, perlite really helps with overwatering and fungus issues.

 

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53 minutes ago, Merlyn said:

The soil does look really rich.  For potted palms you'll want a fast draining mixture with drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.  There are several great threads on here about people's favorite potting mixes, but fast drainage is key.  My personal mix is equal parts generic topsoil, perlite, small pine bark chunks, and Sakrete Paver Base (limestone gravel).  I used to use Turface MVP, which is expanded fired clay, but I discovered it holds more water than perlite or pumice, and was preventing my potted palms from drying out.  My notes on watering issues are:

  • Underwatering brown at the edges first, later followed by yellowing of the whole leaf.
  • Overwatering can be drooping fronds turning yellowish and losing color

One problem with overwatering is that you can end up with root rot...and then the visible symptoms on the leaves look like it's underwatered.  The root rot prevents the palm from absorbing water...so it looks like it's underwatered...so you add more water...and make the rot worse!  :o 

Here's one of the good threads about preferred soil mixes:

 

It's a universal substrate with perlite and coconut fiber. It's in a terracotta pot with drainage holes and I put some gravel in the bottom. I'm not sure about the quantities of each in the substrate I have to check the package. I'm going to read those threads now, thank you! I'm pretty sure it also has a fungal infection now, I'm using horsetail as a fungicide but it doesn't look like it's working. I've seen this spots in newer leaves yesterday...

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18 minutes ago, Selgd said:

It's a universal substrate with perlite and coconut fiber. It's in a terracotta pot with drainage holes and I put some gravel in the bottom. I'm not sure about the quantities of each in the substrate I have to check the package. I'm going to read those threads now, thank you! I'm pretty sure it also has a fungal infection now, I'm using horsetail as a fungicide but it doesn't look like it's working. I've seen this spots in newer leaves yesterday...

Coconut fiber (I buy coco coir bricks) is good for potting too.  I haven't used it a lot, sometimes the "bricks" have a ton of salts in them and need to be thoroughly washed before using in a pot.  But if your mix is fairly loose and drains water fast from the top out the bottom, then it's probably okay.  A rule of thumb for watering is to check the soil at "finger depth" and see if it's wet or dry.  If it's still wet then don't water again until it dries out at "finger depth."  That's true for most palms, with the exception of swamp dwellers like Licuala and some others.  Canariensis like to be on the dry side, though they tolerate daily afternoon thunderstorms here in Florida just fine.  One key factor for you might be the low summer temperatures.  Many palms don't like it cool and wet, and 23C is not very hot for a Canary.  With temperatures in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit and rain, it's like winter here in Florida.  That can contribute to fungal problems and slow growth.

The black spots do look like a fungal infection.  I get "graphiola leaf spot" on my Canariensis, but your issue looks different.

  • If it's a surface infection, then Daconil, Mancozeb, hydrogen peroxide, sulfur powder, and a copper-based fungicide are all good options.
  • If it's a rachis blight or otherwise "internal" then a systemic fungicide like Banrot (thiophanate-methyl + etridiazole), Alliette (aluminum tris), Clearys 3336 or Heritage SC (etridiazole) or other soil drenches are a good choice.

Some fungicides aren't kid or pet friendly.  Rachis blights are usually cosmetic and not a big threat to the palm's health. 

One thing I didn't mention is "transplant shock."  Shortly after planting or replanting you can expect the oldest fronds to die off quickly.  The palm is "eating" the oldest fronds to power new root growth.  This is normal for potted or landscape palms.  It usually takes 1-3 months for a transplant/repot to root in and acclimate to the new location.  So if the new leaves look good, but the oldest one or two are dying fast, that is totally normal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Very large pot allows the soil to stay wet too long. Get some good draining soil. Coco and perlite is a great mix for pots 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok so the palm kept getting worse and worse until I used a fungicide (difenoconazole). Then the leaves stopped dying but the palm is not growing either. Yesterday I decided to repot to a smaller pot with a better soil mix. It came in a 17 cm nursery pot, it was in a 32 cm pot and now it's in a 25 cm pot. I used this mix:

  • 50% coconut substrate
  • 15% loam
  • 15% sand
  • 20% perlite
  • A bit of worm castings
  • The bottom of the pot has volcanic rocks too.

It was odd, the palm appeared to be root bound but in the size of the nursery pot. The roots hadn't grown at all in the new pot. They were healthy, no rot in sight, they actually appeared dry but the old soil was wet. I repotted it like that without touching the roots. I hope I didn't kill it with all the repotting...

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