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Please help with my sick palm

tahneep
New Contributor

Please help with my sick palm

I got my Golden cane palm back in September, initially it looked happy and was in a small pot but then it developed a lean. I repotted it to a bigger pot and initially used standard potting mix. I think it then became overwatered and developed mealy worms/bugs. I treated those with Neem oil and repotted it in a succulent potting mix after reading that may be better (and I separated the roots a little as that was also advice I read online). I then bought a water meter and started waiting for it to get very close to the “dry zone” before watering it and I gave it some indoor plant liquid fertiliser. 
About a week ago the leaves starting yellowing quite barley and the fronds have been dying off completely one by one. It previously had had some browning tips but nothing this severe. 

Please give me some insight, everything I read online says it could be overwatered or under watered or over fertilised or under fertilised and I can’t tell the difference!

 

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MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: Please help with my sick palm

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @tahneep. It's brilliant to have you join us, and many thanks for your question about your Golden cane palm.

 

Does the pot you have it in now have adequate drainage holes in it? You should see the water freely draining out of the bottom after watering.

 

How much direct sunlight does the plant receive each day? They thrive in full sun to part shade, but if placed indoors, they must be in a bright area that receives at least some direct sunlight. If all it's receiving is in-direct sunlight, then it will be pretty sickly. On the other hand, if they receive too much direct sunlight, the leaves will turn yellow and eventually burn.

 

How often are you watering? You'd only want the top 3-5cm of soil to dry out before watering, which is best tested with your finger. If your water metres probe is down deep in the pot and it's registering almost dry, then you're waiting too long before watering. Succulent/cacti mix is very free draining, and you'd need to make sure that you are keeping the water up to the plant. Too little water, and the leaves will start to go brown at the tips. Mist your cane's canopy in between waterings as they like high humidity.

 

Could you tell us more about this indoor plant liquid fertiliser, and are you confident you applied it per the instructions? Overfeeding with a liquid fertiliser is a sure way to kill a plant rapidly.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Mitchell

 

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tahneep
New Contributor

Re: Please help with my sick palm

Hi Mitchell, 

 

Thank you so much for your response!

My pot does have a drainage hole (it’s a self watering pot but I did take the stopper out of the drainage hole so I think self watering only works if you keep the stopper in right?).

 

It lives on my balcony, which is mostly shaded but it does get some direct light each day and is in a fairly bright spot. 

The liquid fertiliser I used was The Plant Runner’s Indoor Plant food. I followed the instructions and diluted it well in water. 

 

I think based on what you’ve said I am not watering it anywhere near enough! It’s in a fairly big pot and since repotting it I haven’t actually watered it thoroughly enough that water has drained out of the draining hole. A month or so ago (when it was in a different potting mix also) it was overwatered so I’ve now clearly been too cautious with overwatering and done the opposite! 🤦🏻‍♀️ 

I’ve attached a photo below for reference of where it lives. It does also have some new growth happening which is promising so hopefully a bit of water will help it perk back up. How often would you recommend watering a golden cane or is it best to just test with your finger? And should I be watering it thoroughly enough that water drains out the drainage holes every time? 

Thanks so much again Mitchell. 🙂

 

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BradN
Junior Contributor

Re: Please help with my sick palm

Hi Tahneep,

 

In that last picture your palm looks quite healthy, apart from the dry tips on the leaves closest to the camera. This is likely due to underwatering, but is not really a problem. Most potted palms end up with some brown tips. 

 

If the brown fronds in the other photos are the lowest fronds on the stems, they are probably just dying off as a natural part of the plant's growth process. 

 

As a palm tree grows it develops new leaves at the top of the plant. At the same time it sheds old leaves lower down. But before it drops the old leaves it sucks a lot of nutrients back into the main plant so it can use them again. This makes the old leaves turn yellow and then brown as the plant sucks the good stuff back out of them. It's the same process that makes the leaves of deciduous trees turn different colours in autumn.

 

If it's just the lowest leaves on each stem turning yellow/brown and falling off as new leaves emerge at the top, everything is working perfectly. 

 

By the way, you have several individual plants in that pot. Nurseries multi-plant golden canes (and some other palms) to give them a nice, full bushy appearance. A single golden cane in a pot would look very skinny and sad.

 

But it looks like you're doing things right. You have the plant in a bright and airy position. And you successfully treated the mealybugs, so give yourself a pat on the back for that! That is some advanced plant care right there!

 

You haven't said where you live, but you can certainly give your golden cane a good, deep drink of water every two or three days in summer. Lots of water so it gets right down through the root ball of the plant and runs out of the hole at the bottom of the pot. Tropical plants with big leaves go through a lot of water when it's hot or windy. As Mitchell said, the succulent potting mix will drain very quickly, so you need to keep the water up to it now. Don't repot it again, though. That will just cause it more stress and more damage to the roots. 

 

Cheers, and keep up the good work!

Brad  

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MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: Please help with my sick palm

Hi @tahneep,

 

@BradN has summed up my thoughts quite well. I had believed your previous pictures were representative of the entire plant. As mentioned, your plant actually looks quite healthy overall.

 

If the stopper on the bottom of the pot has been removed and water now comes out of it when watering, it is no longer self-watering.

 

In the cooler months, soak the plant on each watering but only if the soil has become dry to the touch. This might only be once per week. It'll be every few days or every other day when the temperature really starts to climb in summer.

 

Keep us updated and reach out again if the plant's condition worsens.

 

Mitchell

 

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