Palm tree's are dying too!

adinainaz81January 31, 2010

I have several palm trees in the yard at a home I recently purchased. Having lived in apartments all of my adult life I have never had to take care of any outdoor plants and have no idea how to do it!

I have tried to identify the exact type of palms I have but can not really distinguish one from another! I have two palm trees that are about five feet tall, their canopy is very thick and their trunk is straight and narrow not short and fat. But I think they are full grown. I also have one medium sized palm, not the super big one you often see here in Phoenix, it is more like ten feet tall or so and it is really dying! I also have several really small ones that have the shorter stubbier trunk. Well my taller palm and my two four foot palms are dying it would seem and I don't know how to properly care for them. If you have any palm tree info it would be greatly appreciated!

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Adina, welcome to gardening! I hope my post isn't too much of the third degree, but in order for our help to be really useful, we need more info.

The first step is to identify the palms.

What are their fronds like? Some have fronds with a long center stem, with grass-like leaflets coming off the sides--like the center shaft and soft parts of a feather. These are called (of course) feather palms. Others have a stout stem from the trunk that ends in a broad, pleated leaf like a huge Japanese fan, usually with the edges split into long, grass-like segments--the fan palms. Some plants that aren't palms, but are sometimes sold as them, have long, grass-like or sword-like leaves coming directly from the trunk.

What are the trunks like? Are they smooth and ringed? Do they have old leaf-bases attached? Do they have rough bumps in a diamond pattern?

The next thing to do is to describe the exact symptoms. Are the lowermost leaves dying first, or the very newest ones at the top center? Are all the fronds turning brown at the tips? Are all the fronds just turning yellowish? "The devil is in the details."

Also, what kind of care are they getting? How often and how much are they being watered. Have they been fed, and when, and how much? How much sun are they getting?

Any recent major changes in their environment? New pavement or change in soil grade? Digging for new sprinkler lines? Shade trees cut down? Did you or the neighbors spray for weeds, and with what? Do you or your neighbors backflush the pool in the vicinity? There are all kinds of possibilities.

Fortunately, all gardening isn't fuss, bother, and worry! Most plants, including most palms, pretty much take care of themselves, once a few basic needs are met. Breathe deep, watch your plants do their stuff, and your gardening instincts will grow, too.

Kevin : )

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 12:05AM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

I agree that it would help if you could give us a little more description and Kevin gave a good help on trying to describe them. of course a photo would be worth a thousand words as they say --smiles his jolly smile--
In general, palms need a lot of water, more than most anything else you will grow. Also in general, the older fronds, the ones that are lowest, will naturally turn yellow and then brown. If the fronds that are in the center and the ones continuing out to about 90 degrees straight out, are green, then you are fine.
Can you describe a little more what part looks like it's dying?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 4:24AM
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I don't know anything about palm trees. The one I have tries to grow upward then the branches break under their own weight. Most of the trunk is shaded behind a 6 foot wall.
The forum only lets me post 1 pic. If you would like more for identification, I have 3 more.

Maricopa AZ

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 4:56PM
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Paul what you have is a queen palm and its doing exactly what it should be doing it's just gonna take a lot of time for it to look good

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 6:35PM
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It looks exactly like the queen palms in the backyard of the house behind us. Someone moved in not long ago. sylvanpc you did not move into a house in East Mesa by chance?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:46PM
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I live in Maricopa, AZ. Acacia Crossings sub. I'm hoping somebody can give me advice on saving the palm.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 12:31AM
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Queen palms just struggle here, it's rare to find a really nice one. Our soil isn't high in manganese, so you'll have to find a palm specific fertilizer that's high in that and follow the directions. A good draining soil helps. If your soil is a heavy clay, that keeps the water from penetrating the soil, so it can either not get to the roots of the tree OR just sit in originally dug hole (with the the root ball) and keep oxygen from getting to the roots. The intense summers don't help either. It's not a "plant and forget it" tree, they do need quite a bit of babying. Good luck though, a nice looking Queen palm is quite beautiful.

That's my 2 cents...


    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 10:38AM
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If it dies, don't plant another queen palm. Just a waste f time, effort and your resources in the valley when you could have something much more beautiful without as much effort.

If you are going to keep it, it loves water and palm fertilizer.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 8:55AM
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Thx Kevin and toucan! house was vacant for 3 months and I doubt it was watered. I have been watering it everyday and will try some palm specific fertilizer. I'll send a follow up pic if it survives.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 12:15PM
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I'm no palm expert on palms either. I can say though that I have never seen a healthy Queen Palm planted in the ground in Arizona. Several houses in our neighborhood have multiple Queen Palms. There used to be more but over time the owners pulled them out and planted something else. Almost any other palm seams to thrive here but the palm prongs never seam to be healthy and green of Queen Palms for long.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 12:25PM
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You are in the same dilemma as I am. When we moved in, there were establish queen palms already there. So what do you do, help it or kill it. I helped it, but just be prepared, they are high maintenance. You have to shave off the dead looking leaves constantly, and keep up the palm fertilizing and watering. Still, they will look okay, but not great.

My problem is near the pool, there are some established ones, but to take them out, I don't know what alternatives there are that won't make a big mess or have roots that destroy the pool.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 12:38PM
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One of the first things I did when I moved to my house in Phoenix was had the queen palm removed.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 4:48PM
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Thx Devonfawn and everybody. I will give it a chance, since it does not cost much and is not too time consuming. I'm retired, so time is no big deal. It is planted behind a semi circular adobe seating area. If it dies no big deal removing it because you can't see the bottom 4 ft of the trunk anyways.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 3:52PM
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After some palm food and water it is starting to look much better. The fronds are not breaking under their own weight anymore:)
thx again everybody!!


    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:33PM
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Very good improvement there!

By the way, Epsom salts are good for palm trees. It supplies magnesium they need. I just put some around my palm trees and tomatoes today.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:27PM
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Queen palms suffer from micronutrient deficiencies here in our salty soil which causes crinkled, distorted or collapsing fronds. The element they need the most is manganese (not magnesium). Just look for a complete palm food with manganese and apply once a month when the weather is warm. Scatter over the root zone according to directions, and water in well.

These palms, like other trees, need deep watering down to at least two or three feet. Try to schedule this at least two times a week throughout the summer. Applying a three inch layer of organic mulch like compost or shredded/chipped mulch will keep the soil cooler during the heat and release nutrients as it decomposes.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 7:52PM
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I've watched online vid's that say DO NOT use epsom salts, salts and alkaline soil in AZ are bad enough already. I have attached a video I found today and I hope it helps. Not sure how you can scale that bench and work behind there very easily. For the upkeep I might consider something else, maybe an umbrella or a playground type canopy over that area if you can afford it?

Here is a link that might be useful: QueenPalmcare

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 3:33PM
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