New Queen Palms-Don't know what we're doing!

robwallisJune 1, 2010

Hi folks, hope you can help. About three weeks ago, we bought some small Queen Palms at Lowe's, they are about 5-6 ft tall. We notice that some of the older growths are getting kind of yellowish on the tips, so we added some palm fertilizer maybe 2 weeks ago.

We live in Sacramento, and it has been cooler than usual for this time of year, if that makes a difference I don't know. We are checking the soil at 6 inches, and it still shows "moist", even after not watering for a week. We do, however, have very clay soil, so it really holds the moisture in.

What I need to know is, how long before I know if the fertilizer worked, and are these trees in bad shape, or am I just a paranoid newbie? :)

Thanks, Rob

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hi there rob, i'm just down the road a bit (HWY 80) in hercules, and we've had our queen (which we got at home depot) for at least 6 years and she's been through alot and is doing just fine!

we have that good 'ole clay soil too (pretty bad actually) and all we do is give her those fertilizer spikes by vigaro ever so often and that's it! when i say she's been through alot, i mean that we've moved her twice, she's been through 2 floods (neighbors retaining wall broke during heavy rains 2 years ago) and had to sit in standing water for about 3 weeks in our clay soil. plus, we're in a funky yet beautiful little valley (think california cows') that's right on the bay, so it gets very hot and pretty cold along with the moisture from the bay. for example, we've just had this outta nowhere heatwave for the last 3 days after tons of rain, and now today the fog is so thick, and it's damp and chilly!

yes, her tips do brown from time to time, but she's doing just fine. we just keep her trimmed and fertilized. that's it.

hope this helps and good luck!


    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 1:41PM
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Thanks! This is all so new to us.

How often do you water them? Can I rely on the soil tester to tell me when they need water?

Thanks, rob.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 3:41PM
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Dick_Sonia(Sunset 17)

I would hold off on any fertilizer for this year. Plants need to get "established" (grow lateral roots and then root hairs through the interstices of the soil they are planted in) before fertilizer can do any good. This generally takes several months and sometimes a year or more. Fertilizing plants that are not yet established can contribute to root rot.
One has to expect a certain amount of transplant shock and setback the first year a new plant is planted out (particularly true in the case of subtropicals being grown in a climate that isn't quite ideal). Who knows whether the palms in question had been field grown or greenhouse cultivated? They have to acclimatize and will undoubtedly acquire some scars in the process. In a few years they'll outgrow any unsightly tissue as new fronds flush and old ones die and get trimmed off. Patience is the key. Many plants are killed by trying to "fix" something that really isn't wrong.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 6:37PM
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totally agree... NO fertilizer yet. It can take up to three years for some palms to really become established and they may not look so great in the meantime... but you can only make them worse by fertilizing them, especially in the first year. Overwatering can be a problem, too, though Queens are pretty tough palms. Still, if the ground is moist, don't water much that first year (don't let them dry out, totally, either, though). Once established, it is nearly impossible to overwater a queen palm, even in pure clay (unless they are literally standing in water for a long period).

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:01PM
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hey rob!

i'm a complete novice, so i don't know much about the stuff the other previous two posters said, but honestly, what they say makes total sense.

so other than what i said before, we don't water much AT ALL. we put the fertilizer spikes (specifically for palms by vigoro)about twice a year, but at least once. we do trim her outer fronds but only when they're looking a bit ragged. although we did trim one because i've planted some raised veggie beds just under her and it was hanging too low and in my way.

there are days when she is just regal, and days when she's looking a bit haggard, especially in winter, or during a particularly hot spell (we just give her some water). she's been getting more water than usual because of the garden, and we're noticing that she's really starting to look great!

i'll try to post some pic's for you.

good luck rob!


    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 1:04PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Zone 9B. On a golf course in the Hot Desert. 10 Queen Palms. They get watered as much as the grass and the landscaping, which is a LOT. But they would prefer deep watering now and then. They never get that. Sigh. But my landscaper told me to give them 1/2 Cup of Epsom Salts (magnesium) once a month or so, and they really do love that!

Good luck with yours!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 8:08PM
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