Pruned Fan Palm not recovering from Winter!

ipvfletchApril 15, 2011

I've got 2 (California Fan I believe) Palm trees here in my backyard in Austin, TX.

They're a few years old now, and I've had them for just over 3 years myself. They were about 5' tall planted and now are about 7' tall in the ground, to the top of the trunk. I love these Palms and they really help me pull off my "backyard oasis" I've got going...

Anyways, my landscaper came and pruned the palms just before Winter. They had a bunch of dead and almost-dead fronds but he pruned them so badly that it was just 5 or 6 sticking straight up. They looked like onions or something.

So then Winter set in. We had a couple of freezing nights but nothing too crazy. These Palms are supposedly VERY hearty here for Central TX, anyways.

Well, after/during the Winter, they kind of stopped growing and browned up. All of my neighbors' Palms did the same so I think/thought nothing of it.

They kind of stopped growing even as we got into Spring here. My landscaper came back and trimmed up all the brown fronds leaving basically nothing but a few green stalks. He seemed to know what he was doing and I figure as long as there are healthy roots, it should be OK.

Now it has been about 5 more weeks and my one palm has grown all of its new fronds up (about 5 or 6) and they are straight up and just now fanning out. It looks like an onion again but on its way back to a full palm tree very soon.

The other palm, however, is not doing so good. I checked on the browned/clipped frond legs that had been green previously. I pulled two of them out - they kind of just came out actually, and connected to the bottom was this big ball of what looked like puss. It was light brown/tan in color and it looked very wet and sticky, like sap but not clear at all.

There is now just one remaining semi-upright frond leg, clipped, sticking up and out of the tree. No more have popped up and this one is clipped so it won't grow anymore I'm guessing.

I don't know what to do to save it, but I'm worried I need to intervene or else it is already too late.

Any ideas??

I will try to get a pic posted later on if that helps!

I know this is the only forum on the web that is remotely helpful for garden/pool type questions.. You're a great bunch and thanks in advance for helping!!

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chadec7a

Pour some hydrogen peroxide into the crown where the spears come out. It will help clear out the puss, and is the best method for spear pull. Give the palm some time, and hopefully the damage isn't too bad it can't recover. I had a pindo come back last year, and have a windmill that I am treating right now.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 8:47PM
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ipvfletch

Seriously? Hydrogen peroxide? Is the idea that this will kill any bacteria in there and the tree will continue to make new fan leaves once it is cleaned up a bit, provided the roots and trunk are in good shape (they are) and it is getting plenty of light and water (it is) - is this correct? I guess I might as well try it, not sure what else I can try.

Once I pour and let it soak in, should I scoop anythign out of there? Should I put the one last remaining clipped branch? I think if I give it a light tug it will just come out as it is already, not sure it is really well connected at this point, but don't want to cause more undue stress either, just want to create a healthy top for this thing to keep growing!! :(

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 10:27PM
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chadec7a

Remove any loose spears pour it in till the crown is full but not overflowing. Then let it be. If you doubt me Google it, this is a common practice and safer than copper fungicidal spray.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 9:38AM
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ipvfletch

I don't doubt you, it makes a lot of sense, it is just somewhat radical... but right now, my tree needs radical or it will die I fear.. :( I will jump on this today, thanks!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 9:45AM
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islandbreeze

You may also want to try trunk cutting to remove the infected/rotted portion. Using a saw, cut the trunk horizontally a little at a time until you see solid tissue and no more pussy mush. Essentially, you will be cutting the top off of the tree, down to live growth, and then pour the peroxide on the live tissue. You can also google that method. Basically, you need to remove the rot, or more rot will develop.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:11AM
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jimhardy

It may be to late but I agree,the trunk cutting is your only option on the puss tree.

You won't kill it doing this,just cut a few inches at a time
until(as mentioned)you(hopefully)find live tissue.

It may be the center growth bud(meristem)is dead and rotted out.
With the amount of damage you describe there is really no other option.

I prefer to cut mine-high to low-north to south-meaning,
face the cut edge sloping down to the south,the cut should be on
and angle,not flat,like this.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:27AM
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ipvfletch

If I do the tree cut, I just keep trimming like an inch at a time, until I see no more rot? And then a little peroxide on top of the live growth, just in case? What will it look like if it recovers, I mean will it still have one trunk, or will it split, or will it look all funky at that spot later on when the trunk has grown more? Thanks all!!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 12:12PM
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jimhardy

For one thing you can trim it as far down as the stuff
you pulled out was long.

If it ends up flat (as above)you really won't need any peroxide/fungicide as all the rot will be removed and
it will be exposed to light/fresh air.

If it grows out it will begin to go something like this-

Keep in mind these pics are of a small Trachy and this was
an extreme cut.

April 15

April 26

June 4th

Aug 22

Oct 8th

Depending on how much you have to cut/IF it comes back(a Washy)in your climate could look "normal" before the end of the year-surely by next.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 4:41PM
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ipvfletch

Ok well my landscaper is the one responsible for this (I think) so I will have HIM come back out and do the cutting. It should only have to be cut about 4 or 6 inches based on your comments and seeing how long the spears I pulled out were. I put the HP on it today, probably half a bottle so maybe like 12 ounces. It is still sitting in there ever so slowly seeping into the top of the tree. Hopefully it penetrates deep enough to kill the rot.

I was thinking if it does kill the rot, do I still need to cut it? Right now it just looks like a "hollowpoint" ammo round (bowl at top) with a bunch of older cut branches formed around it at the top. No spears sticking out anymore. It's about 4 inches deep but the rot is likely down to 6 or even 8 inches. There's no light down there so not sure if the rot gets killed if it will come back or not. Trimming it will clean up the top and give me assurance there is no rot left over. BUT will trimming it change how thick the tree will grow? Like the tree now is about 6 feet tall from the mulch and about 2' diameter to 6" diameter at the top. It's hard to tell from the above trimming pics if the trunk has changed in size or not now??

Thanks so much you all!! This is great info!!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 5:46PM
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chadec7a

I have never cut into one of mine but with your cali. growing thicker and not being hairy like a trachy it may show some scaring for a while. My trachy is starting to show signs of recovery. Here it is at Christmas.

Here it is today pushing up a new spear after 3 weeks of peroxide.

Good luck, in what ever you decide to do.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 7:39PM
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ipvfletch

Wow, ok 3 weeks - what does that mean, like you put a few ounces in and waited 3 weeks or you put in a few tablespoons every day for 3 weeks?? What exactly? I'd LOVE to not HAVE TO cut my tree top off to get rid of the rot - but I WILL if I HAVE TO.. :\

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:55PM
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chadec7a

I filled the crown weekly, but it kept raining when the weather only called for clouds. When you have spear pull you should try to keep the inside dry. Apparently the extra doses didn't hurt the palm.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 6:33AM
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ipvfletch

Ok well I put in like 12 ounces and last night it still had an inch or so left which hadn't yet been absorbed. I think that should do it. I don't want to put more in because it might make it wet or non-breathable. So I'm going to let it dry out now (let the HP evaporate and/or soak in) and see what happens. But I'm ready to cut if I need to, I just don't know when I will decide and I hope I don't decide too late.. :(

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:32AM
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jimhardy

If it has pulled as deep as you say,trunk cutting is the best way.

Does this palm have any leaves left?

I would not wait to long to do this,get a saw and do it yourself-stop when you see healthy tissue.

With the rot as deep as it is,the warm temps will accelerate the process/rot.

Most landscapers and southern palm growers are not familiar with this process and will probably tell you it will kill
the palm.

You can see by the above pics it will not unless you go past the meristem.

Sooner is better-

BTW-

Your palm will grow out of this and the trunk will be fine,
one year later you can hardly tell my Trachys were trunk cut,
Washys grow faster.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 10:52AM
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ipvfletch

This morning I looked again and the remaining HP is still sitting in there (maybe 4-6 ounces left) - it hasn't fully soaked in. I pulled one more speak out (it was a cut spear, kind of the edge/trunk). I pulled it out and it broke off and came out. The top was brown/black and in the middle there were white spots like fungus or something. The BOTTOM however was all brown like it should look, and it was all wet from the HP. So I think my rot is above my HP level at this point. This could be good in that the rot is away from the center meristem, but it could be down below in where the HP is too. So I think I have the HP covering the new growth part, so hopefully it continues to soak and kill the rot then dries and begins growing. Otherwise, I could fill it back up and the HP will get on the rot that is higher up, OR I could cut the top 5 inches off the tree and let it begin drying out... Thoughts??

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 11:13AM
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chadec7a

I filled the crown weekly, but it kept raining when the weather only called for clouds. When you have spear pull you should try to keep the inside dry. Apparently the extra doses didn't hurt the palm.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 11:33AM
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chadec7a

If jimhardy says cut it that's what I would do.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 12:35PM
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ipvfletch

Ok, I will cut it after I get off this conference call. Thanks guys!!

I think I will cut it about 6" and see if I still see rot or dead tissue... Will post back later after I do the deed! :D

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 4:38PM
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ipvfletch

Doh, my jig saw won't work; looks like I need a chainsaw.. :(

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 6:01PM
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ipvfletch

Ok, so I got an electric chainsaw (been wanting one!!) [Homelite 14" 9amp and it is POWERFUL!!] and I lopped off the top ~8 inches of my palm. I did it 2" at a time until I saw no more rot. Now, it looks like white/greenish and moist so I would call it live tissue, yes... It looks clean but the very edges up against the older dead frond bark looks like they are still moist and darker brown in color. It looks like a little rot at the very edges there.

Should I keep cutting? Should I put HP on those parts? Should I just cross my fingers and wait?? :]

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 3:32PM
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jimhardy

If the middle section is alive and your temps are
warm,you may/should see the center pop up in a day or two.

Leave it alone now.

You don't need to treat it or do anything now that it's opened up.
If the rot didn't go past the meristem it will pop out of it-wait and watch.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 4:22PM
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ipvfletch

OK thanks Jim, I will report back on this same thread when I have a status change - should hopefully be in a few days!! :D

Thanks again!!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 5:41PM
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jimhardy

Yep

In central Texas this thing should pop like
a (Washy)Jack in the box!(-:

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 5:50PM
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ipvfletch

Thanks Jim that makes me feel hopeful! :D

Pics from today:



They WERE the same size roughly.. :(

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 7:10PM
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jimhardy

Definitely healthy tissue!(-:

As long as the bud is intact- it should recover quickly.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 10:55AM
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ipvfletch

You think so? I'm nervous the top live tissue is littered with old dead rot/sog/puss stuff. It hasn't dried out but has not even been 24 hours yet. I dunno, I'm just nervous. I didn't see anything pop up yet but the whole top is/has been kinda pointy/fuzzy since the chainsaw slashed it...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 12:41PM
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chadec7a

I imagine it's not very happy with you after taking a chainsaw to it.lol. It's not going to recover overnight . Give it a few weeks.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 1:21PM
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brooklyngreg(7a NYC coastal plain)

glad you posted these pics. Please tell the landscaper not to trim these palms because he is over doing it and adding stress to the palm. Trim it yourself - its ez. Also, TX had record and highly unusual cold so this is not a surprise that palms have been damaged. During record events including freezing precip cover them. Yup cover the tops and you will not be troubled by having to watch the poor palm struggle to recover. The surgery looks deep, but it worked for Jim. If you can trim that, you certainly can handle triming the fronds. Let them get bushy first. Too many die back events and the palm tends to die.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 2:40PM
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ipvfletch

Yeah I hear you guys loud and clear. :)

I finally now have a chainsaw so I can do some better palm pruning. :]

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 3:17PM
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jimhardy

If the bud is still there it will come back.

I don't see anything there right now but....

as you pointed out,it may just be kinda frazzled
from the chain saw-time will tell all.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 5:05PM
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ipvfletch

I see in the very center what looks like a frond separated from the rest of the trunk. I hope that means this cut is well above the bud.. :)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 6:04PM
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jimhardy

Yea-that sound good,sometimes you can actually make out the severed leaves and petioles in there.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 12:07PM
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ipvfletch

It looks worse today, more brown I think.. Maybe I didn't cut far enough? Go one more inch?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 1:08PM
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jimhardy

Take a picture of it.

What has the weather been like the last few days -

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 4:23PM
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ipvfletch

Sunny, mid 80s/low 90s... Lo is like 65 overnight..

Actually, looking at the first pic I posted, I guess it looks about the same... *sigh*

I'll give it another 1-2 days I guess.. :\

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 10:13PM
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jimhardy

If you cut it again,don't go very far down.

You should be able to see some defining shapes in
the center,if you cannot the rot/cut have gone past the bud
and it is finished. ) :

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 12:22PM
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ipvfletch

I think it looks about the same as the above pic, but it's not growing yet. I noticed in the center on top there is a TINY little green leaflet. It has 2 leafs. It is about .5cm tall about about .5 cm wide. It is uber small but it is the only green thing among all the brown/white tissue.. It wasn't there 2 days ago...

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 12:41PM
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jimhardy

Sounds promising (-:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 5:31PM
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ipvfletch

It looks more like a seed fell on top of the tree and is using the rot moisture to wake up and begin growing. But I am praying it is a leaflet for the new bud on this palm! :D

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 9:54PM
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ipvfletch

Well, today it still looks the same. It's not clear to me what is happening but it looks like a whole lot of nothing. I see in the center of the tree where the cross-section cut is, I see the individual spears are combined to form the trunk. They are all bunched together like they are one but way down below. I'm confident this means I'm above the bud. Perhaps well above it. Anyways, I don't know if I should cut more to get rid of the last bits of rot on top or what. It looks mostly dried out but it just started drizzling here, so that won't help. Should I cover it with a plastic bag so it doesn't get wet? Should I cut it more or is 4 days of nothing not yet indicative, and I should keep waiting??? *sad*

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 12:56PM
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jimhardy

If you do cut it again use a saw and cut high to the north side,
low to the south-so it is angled to face the south.
This will keep water from sitting on it and help the sun hit
it directly.

Maybe there is still rot and the chainsaw tore it up to much.

Try this(make sure you have whitish colored tissue on top
and no more rot),then just leave it for a few weeks.
It should recover pretty fast.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 10:28AM
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ipvfletch

There's little pieces here and there which look like soggy rot. I'm guessing even a little is enough to mess with this tree's ability to recover. So I guess I will lop off another inch or so.

If I see main stalks/spears in the center defined as individuals, it means the bud is at least another 1-2 inches below, if not more, right?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 2:42PM
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jimhardy

Can't tell you exactly where the end of the growth point is
but if the rot is on the sides and the center is healthy
you don't need to cut it,it will get pushed away as the
center grows out.

Unless you have a lot o' rot,I would just make a better cut with
a saw so the area heals better and is less opened up
and pulverized by the chain saw.

If this palm is healthy it should be progressing in your temps
unless there is another problem.....
make another cut wait a few weeks for healthy recovery.

If not replace it,down your way you should be able to get a nice big one cheap!
Make another cut of an inch off or so and post a pic.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 4:49PM
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ipvfletch

Ok Jim, I just did some more cutting, and I tell you, I'm glad I did.. Maybe I didn't go far enough last time, I guess I should have presumed it would go faster than my cut. But, anyways, I looked again today and took another inch off. It looked pretty bad on the sides. I took another 2" off and now I am down to the bud basically (I think). I can't go any further I'm pretty sure. There's a little rot on the rim but that's it. The rest (the core/bud) is live and healthy. So I don't know if there is so much rot on the edge it will still thwart it from growing, or what.. I thought about cutting the edges and basically carving it down around the core but not cutting the core anymore, but that is just way too complicated and I will likely mess it up worse...

There's also a few small mites running around on it.. I counted maybe 5 or 6 and a small worm looking thing too. I wiped it off real good and it looks OK in person but these pics make it look worse I think... Let me know what YOU think..


I could put some more Hydrogen Peroxide on it too, or maybe on the edges, I dunno, what do you all think?? Thanks!!!

Kevin

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 11:34AM
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jimhardy

Looks good-that's exactly what you want to see.

You can pour some hydrogen peroxide on if you wish but
it really should grow up and out of that very quickly
if your temps are warm right now.

If it does not there is either root damage or something else
going on with it.

If it is healthy you should see the center pop up in a couple days and really take off.

If it hasn't got some green leaves on it by June 1,you may
want to replace it with a healthy one that will have time
to establish itself.

Keep us updated,it will be interesting to watch how a Washy recovers!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 11:48AM
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ipvfletch

I'm worry more HP will slock down/shock the bud though.. ??

Anyways, I will keep you posted - thanks again for all your help and guidance on this!! I'm confident I did the right thing and now see I really had no choice. Who knew it would be this bad. I just still don't get how it happened really. Shock from early pruning before winter, then some deep freezes?? My other palm recovered and just took off like a month ago or so, no problem and went from like 1 spear to now 6 about 3' long, now up and blooming out..

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 1:34AM
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ipvfletch

Ok so a week later and no real signs of growth, ALTHOUGH, this morning it looked like the center was maybe 1cm (yes a full cm) taller than the rest. Meaning it has come up, since I cut it all very smooth and flat. SO, we will see.. It all looks like the rot got in the wind/air and just browned everything though. Or maybe it just browned on its own because it is exposed tissue?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 1:00PM
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jimhardy

If it is healthy it would be recovering faster-there maybe some other issue with this one.

You may want to consider replacing it...as mentioned if by June 1
it isn't really moving,it may not recover in time even if it does finally start growing )-:

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 4:49PM
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ipvfletch

I am hoping it was just in shock and is now recovering slowly... I really don't want to shell out another couple hundred $$$ to have to replace this one..

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 5:22PM
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jlamb101

I have 4- 10 to 15 ft windmill palms , I cut one down 2 ft and tried the perozide , do you think this will save them, i pulled out 1 to 2 ft of black rotted center on all of them , can they be saved ,

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 12:41PM
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jimhardy

If you got rid of all the rot and the bud is still intact..yes

ipvfletch

You should be able to find a good sized Washy pretty cheap.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 4:31PM
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ipvfletch

How do I know if the bud is intact? I just got back from FL and found my baby is still not recovering. The center maybe is up a half inch above the cut line, but it doesn't look promising. It looks all rotted and dark. I want to give up or at least just cut it again and see if I am not too far to lose the bud, whatever that means exactly... Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:33PM
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jimhardy

Try it again.

If it goes past June 1 without recovery replace it.

They are one of the cheapest palms to purchase.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 10:57AM
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brooklyngreg(7a NYC coastal plain)

Give it some time and consistent warm weather and give it a rest from surgery.

Branch snippers are best for pruning fronds.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:18AM
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chadec7a

One of mine was mushy in center after being cut and starting to rot. Since there were two grown from seed I had to cut it down. I relocated the remaining palm. With our forecast this thing will never stay dry. It has put out 3 fronds hope I don't kill it)-:

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:27AM
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ipvfletch

I cut another 2" off tonight. It honestly looks like it should be recovering. Not sure why its taking so long. It looks in good shape. I poured some HP on the cut and am letting it go this last time. What happens, happens...

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 7:53PM
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