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Kentia Palm is dying

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by reibmore on March 17, 2005 09:36 PM
Hello all. Greetings from Baltimore, MD. This is my first time visiting the site. I am in desperate need of advice. I bought a 6ft tall Kentia Palm in November. I placed it in an wide open area by a north facing window (window gets indirect morning light and afternoon light). I watered it every week with my other plants, then come to find out that I was watering it entirely too much. The leaves tips were turning yellowish-brown, then the fronds would dry up. I assumed that you had to keep the soil moist at all times, when in actuality, it should be semi-moist especially when it's not the growing season (March-Oct). I stopped watering as often and then it got spider mites on the fronds. I noticed the little webs between the fronds. I cleaned off the fronds. My plant continues to shrivel up and die. I got some growing lamps and I keep them on constantly. I got some fertilizer (10-10-10) and put it in the soil. I only water when the soil is dry....about every two weeks. I mist the fronds every morning. My plant continues to get brown. The trunks right above the soil were green, now they are light brown with black specs. I was told not to cut the fronds because the plant will thin out. I have seen new liitle fronds develop near the soil to the bottom of the tree, but nothing on top. When I bought the plant, it was thick, lush, and green, now I'm afraid that my plant is too far gone to be saved. I'm afraid that the roots may be rotted from over watering. Can my plant bounce back from this? What can I do? What am I doing wrong?
by Will Creed on March 18, 2005 05:16 AM
Hello to Baltimore!

Are you sure your palm is a Kentia? Although spider mites love most all palms, they rarely show up on a Kentia. Your description of new growth emerging from the base of the plant is also not characteristic of a Kentia.

If you can post a photo here or e-mail me a photo of your palm, perhaps I can clear up the identity issue first and then go from there.
by reibmore on March 20, 2005 07:46 AM

Thanks for replying to my post. Not knowing what kind of palm I have may be the problem in itself.
It looks just like this one, but much larger...about 6 feet tall.

At least it used to be that tall when I bought it before it started dying on me. These two links are to my palm. Does this help to ID it?

by Will Creed on March 21, 2005 01:26 AM
Hi Rei,

The first photo is a Chamadorea elegans (parlor palm). The photos of your plant reveal that it is an Areca palm. I hope you didn't pay a Kentia price for your Areca!

Definitely cut out all of the dead fronds. Of course that will thin out the plant, but it is better than looking at dead fronds.

Arecas are not easy indoor plants. They need more light than most homes can provide and they are magnets for spider mites. They also do not tolerate watering mishaps very well. Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry and then water it thoroughly.

Its long-term prognosis will depend on how healthy the roots are and your ability to provide good light, proper water, and keep the mites in check.

Good luck!
by Amy R. on March 21, 2005 01:34 AM
One thing that I would like to add, is to hold off on the fertilizer until the palm recovers and starts showing new growth. Even then, I would fertilize sparingly, at half-strength or weaker. Good luck!
by reibmore on March 21, 2005 02:22 AM

Thanks for the advice. I am relieved to know exactly what kind of palm I have, but not so happy to hear that I picked the kind that requires the most maintenance and does not grow well indoors. I don't think I paid the Kentia price, about $60 on sale. The florist didn't specify what kind of palm it was, I just assumed from the pitures that I saw online that it was a Kentia. I will take your advice and let you know how it turns out. I have brought other plants back to life. I'm hoping to do the same for this one also.

by Will Creed on March 21, 2005 03:57 AM
Palm species are very difficult to tell from one another. $60 is a reasonable price for an Areca. A Kentia would be about 4 times that. So you did good!

Post another photo after you have pruned out the dead stuff. It might provide some more clues to its future.

by reibmore on March 22, 2005 04:52 AM

Here is a picture of my much smaller palm after I pruned the fronds. Many of the fronds that died were dead all the way to the base of the tree. Many of the dead branches came out from the base without any effort.

As I was pruning, I noticed some brown spots on many of the fronds that were not dead. I even saw spots on the new growth. Is that an indication of it's chance of survival?

by Amy R. on March 22, 2005 08:36 PM
I am such a dork, I cannot believe that just happened. I was going to make a joke about the Will/Amy, like I was your know like the big & tough bulldog with the annoying little terrier jumping at it's side, "wanna play, huh huh?". Oops, I hit reply too soon. I am going to stick my head in the sand now. [Embarrassed]
Anyway, reibmore, your Areca looks a jillion times better, nice job! Not sure about the brown spots--maybe lack of humidity? I have mine sitting on a humidifying tray which seems to be working at the moment. I'm with Cricket though, and if my drooping gardenia is any indication of my success with houseplants, I am in BIG trouble.
by Will Creed on March 23, 2005 03:54 AM
Cricket - I wasn't talking about YOUR Areca! Yours is the easy kind that stays healthy forever no matter what you do to it.

Rei - Your palm really does look much better now. You did a great job! I am more concerned about the mottled appearance of the leaves than the yellow spots. The mottling - if I am seeing it correctly through my rheumy eyes - is a pretty good indicator of spider mites. Look for tiny webs and dust-like particles on the leaves for confirmation. I hope I am wrong, but Cricket has the only Areca in captivity that is mite-free.

Amy - You ain't nobody's sidekick. You are absolutely a force onto yourself!

by Cricket on March 23, 2005 04:25 AM
I mist my areca most days - will that help reduce the chance of spider mites sucking the life out it?

by reibmore on March 23, 2005 05:44 PM
I'm glad that the palm looks better now. Thanks for the vote of confidence.
A couple of weeks after I brought the palm home, I did see little webs on them. I cleaned off the webs and started misting everyday. I haven't seen any webs after that, but after my pruning, I did notice too that the leaves felt dry and dusty. I mist it every morning and it still feels dusty and dry to the touch. It is in an open space (living/dining room combo), so the air may still dry it out even after the misting. I think a humidifying tray might work well for me. I'll try that. Thanks guys.
by Will Creed on March 24, 2005 04:09 AM
misting helps a bit because spider mites reproduce more rapidly in warm, dry air. Unfortunately, misting daily does not increase air moisture for more than about 20 minutes out of the day. Not much help. Also, misting will not do anything to eradicate any mites that are already there.

Vigilance is the best antidote. If you find those babies early and treat them promptly, the cure rate is much higher.

I do make housecalls. All you have to do is pay my travel costs and I am there ready to do battle with any pesky critters!

Mitey Will

by Will Creed on March 24, 2005 04:17 AM
Hi Rei,

It's going to take more than a casual wipe or cleaning and misting to get rid of those mites. Here is everything you need to know about them:

Spider mites love most all palms. They are very tiny and they look like dust particles to the naked eye, often hiding on the undersides of leaves. By the time they start making webs, they are already well established and difficult to eradicate.

Plain soap and water, insecticidal soap, and Hot Pepper Wax can all be used safely to treat spider mites. The key with all of these products is to get 100% coverage of all leaf and stem surfaces - top and bottom. If you miss a few of the mites, which is easy to do, then they will start to reproduce and you will have another infestation again in a few weeks. Try to spray in a location where you can thoroughly drench all leaf surfaces without worrying about all the run-off. Run your fingers along leaf and stem surfaces to help get complete surface coverage (use rubber or latex gloves to avoid skin irritation. It is also advisable to re-spray again about 5 days later to get any mites that you may have missed the first time.

The best mite prevention is vigilance. Any mite-prone plants, such as palms, should be checked every week for early signs of mites - look for "dust" particles on the undersides of leaves. Treat the mites at the very first sighting. They are much easier to eliminate in the early stages.

Spider mites can reproduce in the 54 to 110 degree range, with the optimum range of 85 to 90 degrees. In unfavorable conditions (cooler temps, shorter day length, reduced plant vigor) they go into diapause when they hibernate (donít feed or lay eggs). Pesticides are ineffective during diapause because the mites are not feeding. When favorable conditions return, the mite population can explode and give the appearance of coming out of nowhere. Nitrogen fertilizers encourage tender new growth which is very attractive to mites. Mites suck the chloroplasts out of green cells and leave a mottled apperance. Mites use webs to travel from one feeding spot to another.

I hope I haven't thoroughly grossed you out with all of this buggy info!
by Cricket on March 26, 2005 06:40 AM

dune bear? [dunno]
by tkhooper on March 26, 2005 12:56 PM
Wolf spiders

It's the name of a family of spiders. Their characteristics are that they are large, hairy and they jump and spit.

The tranchula (sp) is a member of this family.

They have one type over in Okinawa Japan that they call a hand spider ... And your right that's about how large they get. I was driving along one day and one walked accross the hood of my car darn near had an accident.

* * * *
by reibmore on March 28, 2005 05:05 AM
Hello everybody

I did the soap and water for the palm. Now I need to know where can I buy a humidifying tray for my palm. Is that something that you can get in Lowes or Home Depot?

by Jiffymouse on March 28, 2005 04:28 PM
you can make a humidifying tray very easily. take a tray that is about 1-2" deep, and about 2" larger around than your plant's pot. put some stones or pebbles in the bottom to hold the plant up out of the water. then set the plant in it and fill it up to the bottom of the plant's pot. as the water evaporates, it creates a mini humid zone, right around your plant. just be sure than the drain whole of the pot the palm is in does not actually touch the water.
by reibmore on March 28, 2005 05:42 PM
OK. I will create one. Thanks for the instructions.

by Jiffymouse on March 28, 2005 05:54 PM
good deal [thumb] keep me posted.
by Dan OK on September 10, 2005 07:58 AM
Question on Kentias. I have purchased a Kentia for my garden and I love it. I want to plant it in a large pot. My plan is to mix my native sandy soil with compost soil. What mixture should I create? Will a fertilized drip system work for this tree? Should I reduce water and fertilizer in the winter?


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