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Mule palm rescue?


Cody Salem

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I have a new mule palm that I'm worried about.  I tried to protect it from the cold, with heat tape and frost cloth but I'm worried I wrapped it too tight and might have damaged it.  The spear has turned yellow/white in the middle and gone soft.  This has been a sign of death on every other palm I've had.  I just planted then palm last spring and it was a bit stressed  from an undersized container.  I am in Oregon, so I'm concerned about the next 4 months of rain before it is warm enough to start growing again.

Being only 8mo in the ground, I think my best bet is to pull it out and get it someplace dry, and hopefully stop any rot.  It was very well protected so there shouldn't be any physical damage from the freeze.  On the other hand, I have a tendency to love my plants to death, so maybe it would be best to leave it alone.  I would appreciate any advice.

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Without a sensor in there we'll never know if it was too hot or too cold.   Looking at your forecast I'd leave it planted and pre-emptively squirt hydrogen peroxide in the spear area once per week instead of copper fungicide since it is raining every day.  Can you tell me if all other fronds are green to the tips?

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YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@tntropics - 60+ In-ground 7A palms - (Sabal) minor(7 large + 27 seedling size, 3 dwarf),  brazoria(1) , birmingham(4), etonia (1) louisiana(5), palmetto (1), riverside (1),  (Trachycarpus) fortunei(7), wagnerianus(1),  Rhapidophyllum hystrix(7),  18' Mule-Butia x Syagrus(1),  Blue Butia odorata (1) +Tons of tropical plants.  Recent Yearly Lows -6F, -1F, 12F, 11F, 18F, 16F, 3F, 3F, 6F, 3F, 1F, 16F, 17F, 6F, 8F

 

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The yellow (interior) portion of that spear is just that, unexposed foliar tissue. It normal emerges in a tight compressed spear. This looks to have been disturbed to expose individual leaflets. I'd leave it planted but I might also be compelled to bundle the spear (until spring) with jute twine. This would help with exposure to any future cold weather. An overhead canopy might also be a benefit from the elements.

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Has it been exposed to strong wind lately? That can also “shred” spears to make them look like this. Would follow Allen’s advice regardless.

Palms - 4 S. romanzoffiana, 1 W. bifurcata, 4 W. robusta, 1 R. rivularis, 2 B. odorata, 1 B. nobilis, 3 S. palmetto, 1 A. merillii, 1 P. canariensis, 1 BxJ, 1 BxJxBxS, 1 BxS, 3 P. roebelenii, 1 H. lagenicaulis, 1 H. verschaffeltii, 8 T. fortunei, 1 C. humilis, 2 C. macrocarpa, 1 L. chinensis, 1 R. excelsa, 1 S. bermudana, 1 L. nitida

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You will see spears emerge yellow in winter with the lack of sun.  My big butia usually threw yellow spears in winter but with some sun and warm weather they'd green up.  The tissue looks ok from the photo, as in not rotting, but I would try and keep it dry at least and try some preventative fungicide.

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52 minutes ago, Allen said:

Without a sensor in there we'll never know if it was too hot or too cold.   Looking at your forecast I'd leave it planted and pre-emptively squirt hydrogen peroxide in the spear area once per week instead of copper fungicide since it is raining every day.  Can you tell me if all other fronds are green to the tips?

Actually I did have a sensor, it stayed around 50-55 at the base of the spear even though it got down to 14° outside. The fronds are variable depending on how close they were to the middle of the wrap.  Some of them were damaged from the wrap but I was mostly concerned about the base.  

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18 minutes ago, Chester B said:

You will see spears emerge yellow in winter with the lack of sun.  My big butia usually threw yellow spears in winter but with some sun and warm weather they'd green up.  The tissue looks ok from the photo, as in not rotting, but I would try and keep it dry at least and try some preventative fungicide.

I think this is more what's going on since it was heated well.  The mule there just doesn't like that cool weather.  Mine doesn't perk up well till it's really 85 or above. 

Edited by Allen
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YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@tntropics - 60+ In-ground 7A palms - (Sabal) minor(7 large + 27 seedling size, 3 dwarf),  brazoria(1) , birmingham(4), etonia (1) louisiana(5), palmetto (1), riverside (1),  (Trachycarpus) fortunei(7), wagnerianus(1),  Rhapidophyllum hystrix(7),  18' Mule-Butia x Syagrus(1),  Blue Butia odorata (1) +Tons of tropical plants.  Recent Yearly Lows -6F, -1F, 12F, 11F, 18F, 16F, 3F, 3F, 6F, 3F, 1F, 16F, 17F, 6F, 8F

 

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On 1/21/2024 at 3:16 PM, Allen said:

Without a sensor in there we'll never know if it was too hot or too cold.   Looking at your forecast I'd leave it planted and pre-emptively squirt hydrogen peroxide in the spear area once per week instead of copper fungicide since it is raining every day.  Can you tell me if all other fronds are green to the tips?

Why do you prefer the  hydrogen peroxide?  I've been doing the copper stuff, but maybe I should try both.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Cody Salem said:

Why do you prefer the  hydrogen peroxide?  I've been doing the copper stuff, but maybe I should try both.

Copper fungicide is more long lasting contact preventative and hydrogen peroxide is  instant kill fungus and done.  I was thinking the rain you're having would wash away the copper.  But anyway I don't think you have a fungus problem but it won't hurt to treat it a time or 2.

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YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@tntropics - 60+ In-ground 7A palms - (Sabal) minor(7 large + 27 seedling size, 3 dwarf),  brazoria(1) , birmingham(4), etonia (1) louisiana(5), palmetto (1), riverside (1),  (Trachycarpus) fortunei(7), wagnerianus(1),  Rhapidophyllum hystrix(7),  18' Mule-Butia x Syagrus(1),  Blue Butia odorata (1) +Tons of tropical plants.  Recent Yearly Lows -6F, -1F, 12F, 11F, 18F, 16F, 3F, 3F, 6F, 3F, 1F, 16F, 17F, 6F, 8F

 

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It's night time now, otherwise I would show you some of my Butia crosses.  They look just like your palm, as they have been in the garage in low light the last 6 weeks.  Temps never dropped below 50F and they've been kept real dry.  Now that I'm here in Houston I have them outside again so once we get some sunny weather I expect they'll green up in a few days.

My big Butia in Portland always had yellow spears that would linger until we had a couple of 70 degree days, and then by magic it would be green literally overnight.  I think you're over thinking it.  Keep it dry and protected from cold and it will be fine.

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