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King Palm is dying. Please help. =(

Posted by Mattj121 So Cal (My Page) on
Fri, May 31, 13 at 15:43

Bought this triple trunk king palm a month ago and it seems to be completely dying. I'm very concerned and will do anything to make it work.
I had guys dig a 4 foot wide and 4 deep hole in very unworkable clay soil. I say that because I initially put water in the hole to see how long it would take to drain.. It took four days to drain 6 inches of standing water. The installers put a good two feet of sand at the bottom of the hold for drainage. But they packed the clay soil around the palm. When I watered it the soil around the truck is like a glue mud muck.. And stays that way for about a week. I don't know what to do. I've called many landscapers and not one was helpful at all. This is my last resort, a forum. Is there anyone, ANYONE that could help advise me on what I can do here? I would be extremely grateful.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: King Palm is dying. Please help. =(

It could be that the palm was not acclimated to full sun. Where it was in the nursery was probably shaded part of the day. The brown crown shaft is sunburn. And that's common on King palm trunks facing southwest--hottest sun. The other side is still green- right?
Also..they love water. And the rootball might be going too dry. Mulch it. Keep an even water moisture level. In time they will root into that clay. And when you see new fronds,fertilize lightly--half strength until you see it establish,then full strength for those lush green fronds.

RE: King Palm is dying. Please help. =(

I agree, it could be sun damage. King palms are very tolerant of full sun, but when they are grown in the shade of a greenhouse all their lives, they (and any other palm in that situation) burns in full sun. As long as the newly growing "spear" stays green and healthy, you should be okay. It will take the whole season to look nice again, but it will recover. Keep it well watered when it's warm out, but they don't like wet feet so don't leave it in standing water. I would save the receipt just in case though!

RE: King Palm is dying. Please help. =(

Just following up with this post.
The nursery that I purchased the palms from assured me that all their palms are sun acclimated. So I assumed that it would be ok where it's at. :/
The browning around the crown seems to be around it completely and not just southwest facing. I ended up digging around the root ball and widening the hole and filling it with a sand,clay, mulch/potting soil (50/50) mix. It drains alot better and with no standing water near the trunk. Though it's hard for me to say that it's feet are not overly wet. They did plant it on top of sand so I'd assume we should be ok there with drainage. Still open to advice in addition to the wonderful thoughts already shared.

RE: King Palm is dying. Please help. =(

I also have some serious clay soil. After killing my share of plants (palms included), I learned the error of my ways. I was very excited to plant my first palm, so I dug a huge hole and amended the clay soil to "improve" drainage. It turns out, by digging a huge pit and amending the backfill soil, I basically just created a bog. The soil in the hole just gets saturated with water from rain (or the hose) because it is way more porous than the surrounding area. Then it never drains out through the less porous underlying clay. The best way to deal with clay, is to dig the smallest hole possible, not to amend the soil at all, and plant the rootball slightly above grade. I don't know if this is your problem, but the first palm I killed this way just started to yellow and look wilted all the time. The top of the soil felt fine (dry even) but when I pulled it out the bottom of the hole was a sloppy mess and the roots had rotted.

RE: King Palm is dying. Please help. =(

Just an idea if you like it...Dig them up,and build up that brick another 3-4 layers high and fill with compost and topsoils. You will get more then enough drainage,the area you fill cant be more then a few yards of compost-topsoil so not expensive delivered or better, picked up, and later when the palms get larger they will thank you for your original effort of that layer of sand down deeper.
King palms are really great looking palms. Get them thriving and always a thing of beauty.

RE: King Palm is dying. Please help. =(

I agree, stanofh's suggestion is best. They like a lot of water, but not if it's going to stagnate around their roots.

RE: King Palm is dying. Please help. =(

What ever happened with your palm? I recently planted a few and am having the same kind of leaf browning/drying that you had. Were you able to save them? Did they recover?

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