Help with My Chinese Fan Palm

cherrychapstickNovember 12, 2012

Hello Gardeners! I would love help, if possible, with my palm.

I've more or less decided that I have a Chinese Fan Palm - no one seems to know for sure - and I've just brought it indoors for the winter (I'm in Canada).

Over the summer outdoors it was doing GREAT - it grew about a foot and leaves became very strong and lush - but now, just after a week or so indoors it's already looking gloomy. I'm shocked that it's responded so badly so quickly; I was expecting some semblance of dormancy, but not a full out crisis.

We don't receive direct sunlight in the winter (we're in a condo) so I bought a 'plant grow bulb' by Ottlite and am illuminating it for about 6hrs a day, as well as misting with distilled water every morning until the leaves are saturated.

Not sure if this is going to be a decent replacement during the winter? I hope so.

My main concern are fronds looking increasingly grim and crispy and the top fronds actually becoming brown and cracked right in the middle, to the point where the fronds are now drooping down and looking sickly.

Can I take fronds/leaves off completely? Would they regenerate? How about the brown tips - can they be trimmed?

And how should I care for this high maintenance child of mine during the winter months?! Are grow bulbs a sufficient light source? Do I cut down on watering?

I've included some photos - were taken with my phone, so not great! - so any input would be appreciated.

Ok I only seem to be able to upload one photo?! Hm. Well the others I have show the huge browned and cracked fronds on top, but I am sure that a photo is not needed.


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It doesn't look terrible from the pic, but it probably isn't enough light, even though these are tolerable of low light indoor conditions. First off, I don't see the light so I don't know how big it is, second, it's nowhere close enough to the plant. Technically grow lights should be about 1 foot from the plant unless you have an actual grow room with a lot of lights. You probably will only need to water when the soil is dry on the top, probably no more than once a week, maybe even less. Fronds don't regenerate, the only grow from the center growing point one at a time, although you technically have many palms in the pot. Livistona are single stemmed palms. Never cut a palm frond unless it is completely brown, green fronds are it's natural food source. Hope this fragmented response helps!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 6:46PM
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Hey thanks, Brad(ley) :) Actually I had just turned off the grow light before I took those pictures and it was nearing dark here, so basically a really bad time to take a photo of the palm. I stick my lamp pretty close to it, but not so close that it may get fried.
Thanks for all the info...although I still don't know what to do about those top frond fingers which are dried, crispy and hopelessly bent. Just seems so sad that I can't touch/prune them even though they're in such dire straits (and take away from the general loveliness of the plant!)

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 9:10PM
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It looks okay, sometimes palms get used to being outside so when they go inside they do show negative effects. If it looks bad in the spring I wouldnt worry much, here's how mine looked outdoors in February....

And here's how it looks after a summer of growth...

They are pretty hardy plants and will grow back well after neglect. Mine loses most of iit's fronds every winter even when it was a potted plant 3 years ago it was always underwated and never looked good in the following spring, but it always came back nicely.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 12:35AM
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Thanks Alex!
Wow, that is amazing how your palm completely turn itself around come the end of summer. Really beautiful.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:20AM
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I need to try a few of those.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 2:57PM
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The drying of the fronds is probably due to dry furnace air blowing around the room, even if it's not blowing directly on the palm. I've had this problem with Sabal Birmingham and Majesty palms indoors in the fall and winter. They seem to do better in my cold unheated garage because of lack of furnace. Place it as far away from a heat vent as possible.

And as Bradleyo suggested, do not overwater it. Palms that are overwatered will get root rot and die no matter what. But don't treat it like a cactus either.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:47PM
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Thanks Cherrychapstick!
And you have nothing to lose wetsuiter, livistonas are one probably the cheapest potted palms out there, the one in this pic was only 10 dollars so if they dont survive then at least you still had an awesome looking annual for half the year!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:21PM
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