Cat Palm repotting

jane__ny(9-10)February 8, 2013

I live in Florida (not NY). I've been growing a Cat Palm (Chamaedorea Cataractarum) in a pot on the patio for about 4 months. It desperately needed repotting.

After pulling it out of the pot, the roots had encircled the old pot so tightly I couldn't loosen them. I decided to root prune cutting about 1/3 of the bottom and slicing into the sides around the root ball.

My objective was to put the palm back in the same size pot.

I have root pruned regular houseplants, but never a palm.

Did I kill it by pruning so severely? What are the methods for root pruning Palms.


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Unfortunately, most palms do not like root pruning at all . Not familiar with this species likes, but at the very least I would think you shocked it quite severely. Time will tell, it seems most palms do OK with a small amount of root disturbance, but it sounds like you did a bit more than minor root disturbance.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:48AM
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ditto... I never recommend root pruning palms.. they never like it and often decline from the experience.... they do not however mind having their roots crammed in a pot like that.. .just plop it in a larger pot or leave it alone. Unless there literally is no soil left in the pot thanks to the root population, they can stay in small pots like that for years. This is a very tolerant species in terms of abuse and it may not show signs of a setback at all.. but I would not repeat the process in the future.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:59AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I worked with root pruning Queens for the purpose of Bonsai or at least dwarfing. Followed standard procedures
never lost a one though i didn't arrive at a mature palm under 5 feet which was the goal.These have been moved to the ground and interestingly they are pushing 25 feet
even the conjoined ones . So guess it wasn't harmful for sure lol.
Sounds like you have little choice in your case .If it's very root bound you don't have much to lose.. Since that's a clumping type Suspect it will be good for it
Good luck gary

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 4:11AM
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Thank you all for the information. Gary, that's exactly what I did. I basically did a Bonsai root prune. I didn't get all the old soil off but did get a lot. I have done drastic root pruning of houseplants for years due to space limitations.

After moving here, I have some plants in pots on my patio and I do not want to move them up to larger pots. I treated this plant the same way I have treated other species.

I realized after, I should have check to see if Palms can be severly root pruned.

I will report, it has not wilted and appears okay. I also hacked a large Pachira, which I root prune every few years.

If I lose the plant, I've learned a lesson,

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:37PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

if you want to start a heated debate ask any forum for method of Bonsai for palms!!lol There used to be a guy on public TV that was trying to Bosai Coconuts lol his method was using compacted LF sphagnum along with standard root pruning he did have pix of conjoined as well as braching coconuts but none under 10 feet .lol
He was canceled before any results lol
To the "purists " this is" dwarfing' not "bonsai"
good luck with your palm i think you did it a favor!!!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 6:32AM
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Thanks Gary, I've certainly had my share of heated debates on a few forums. Not looking to start any controversy, just info on plants I have no experience with! Starting to enjoy this new experience gardening in Florida. Just trying to learn the ropes. My orchids seem to be responding to the new-found warmth, sunshine and breezes. We are all happy to be out of the frozen North.
I want to learn about Palms, and how to identify them and their culture, thusI this forum. I know my Pachira will be fine. If the Cat Palm doesn't make it, I'm out $17.00 and learned a good lesson.
Thanks for your support!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:49PM
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