waterlogged palms die from the bottom up?

Jeremy Harbinson "Jeremy Harbinson" at users.tbpt.wau.nl
Mon Apr 17 06:27:28 EST 2000


Sounds like a certain case of over-watering; the little flies hovering around
the base are probably fungus flies (sciarid flies) and are a good indicator of
over-watering, especially in peat-based potting composts. If there is no
root-rot then you don't have a serious problem; just water more carefully. As a
rule, and a simple one, with peat-based composts there should be good drainage
and the pot should not be rewatered until until the soil gets to the dry side of
moist - if you push a finger into the soil it should away either clean or with
only a little soil sticking to your finger, if  you can squeeze liquid water
from the soil, or it looks wet or sticky then it does not need any more water.
It is possible the soil will have deteriorated due to the over-watering, or that
the roots will have been damaged and may be rotting. The latter is most serious
and is often fatal. Without seeing the plant I cannot give any specific advice,
but you could tip the plant out its pot and check the roots and the soil; if the
soil is sodden (it may also smell bad), then break it away and replace it, if
the roots are decaying or dead, then break those away and replace the soil from
the rotten and sooden areas with fresh, good quality, open, sterile compost (ie
good based or sterile loam-based compost - don't use raw garden soil). After
that, water carefully, do not expose the plant to direct sun, and keep warm;
watering carefully allows the for a good oxygen supply to the roots and this
will allow the plant's own disease response mechanisms to work as well as
allowing new root-growth, avoiding direct sun will reduce the stress on the
leaves, which if there has been root damage might/will be suffering from water
stress, warmth, like oxygen is good the disease response and root re-growth of
the plant.
good luck, all the best,
Jeremy Harbinson

R Delaporte wrote:

> Hi there,
>
> I have a palm tree of sorts which appears to be dying from the bottom fronds
> up. Someone told me that it is probably due to there being too much water
> remaining in the water dish underneath it.
>
> Someone else said it might be because I used fly spray next to it to kill
> some tiny flys buzzing around the base of the pot.
>
> Is either thing likely to be the possible cause of my problem? I'd hate to
> think I am killing them with kindness.
>
> Regards
>
> Rob





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