Tree Palms

Trees that some people think are Palms, but aren’t really PalmsQ.I have a traveler’s palm as high as my screened porch. It has two shoots that are also that tall. Can I separate the babies from the mother plant?A.Traveler’s palms can be divided like bananas, but they make take a while to recover. Do the dividing as soon as possible. Cut off most of the upper leaves to the base of the fan; leave about four to five leaves at the top. Split the root system so each stalk will have roots. Replant immediately in an area that can accommodate a 40-foot high plant that will gradually spread out in a big space. Do not plant them under eaves or wires. Q. How can I get sago palm shoots to grow? A. Sago palm suckers can be removed from the mother plant and dipped in Rootone. Plant in a pot with well-drained potting soil. Place in the shade. The new plants should root in a few months. Q. Can you give me any information on the armored scale attacking sago palms? A. This is a bad news scale. However, it is treatable with Organocide oil spray. Treat following label directions 3 times at weekly intervals. Treat the foliage above and below, the trunk and then drench the roots with the spray Q. My screwpine (Pandanus utilis) has leaves that are bent over and half brown. What can I do to save the tree? A. Have you done something recently that might have affected the screwpine? Weed and feed herbicide applications, over-fertilizing, weed trimmer damage, and excessive watering or mulch up against the stems and roots of the plant could all affect it negatively. Another possibility is lethal yellowing which can affect screwpine. Lethal yellowing is fatal with no realistic treatment. I would cut off the bad leaves and fertilize it lightly with palm fertilizer if it has not been fertilized to see if it makes a comeback. A spray with a fungicide like Daconil also might be useful. 

TREES – PALMS Florida’s relatively flat terrain sometimes is considered boring and plantings often provide the only relief. Palms are a tropical/subtropical landscape feature that set south Florida apart from the rest of the continental United States. These signature plants range in size from small shade lovers like the 2-3 foot parlor palm to big growers like the 100-foot-plus royal palm. Foliage is distinctive, often large, and either fan or feather shaped. Try to choose self-pruning palms that drop their leaves without pruning. Avoid planting palms in open lawn areas where the weed trimmer can wound them. Try to locate palms in landscape beds away from danger of injury. The palms cannot heal wounds and are subject to fatal fungal diseases if wounded.Q. My father has Christmas palms. The fronds start turning brown, die back and eventually only the stump is left. What is wrong? A. Lethal yellowing is very common and fatal to Christmas palms. I would not buy or plant them. Along with the `Jamaican Tall’ coconut palm, they are the most susceptible. A good substitute palm with similar appearance is the solitaire or Alexander palm (same palm, two different common names.) They are similar in appearance and size to Christmas palms but are resistant to lethal yellowing. If you want a clump effect, the very similar McArthur palm is a good choice. Q. I love the Licuala grandis palm and wonder if it will grow in a shady spot on the west side of the house. It is sunny there from June to September. If it does not work there, is there a similar palm that will work? A. The Licuala grandis is a unique understory rain forest palm that needs shade. It is also quite cold sensitive. I would make every effort to incorporate it into your landscape if you can find year-round shade and shelter from cold winds. There is nothing else with a round, undivided leaf like this palm. Consider moving something less valuable out of the way to accommodate it. Q. Our two coconut palms look like they have crown rot. Can this be prevented? A. Spray the buds of the coconuts with Daconil to prevent bud rot. Follow directions and repeat treatment as necessary. Q. I want to plant a coconut tree in my yard. Do we still have to worry about lethal yellowing? A. Lethal yellowing never went away but did decrease in activity 

for a number of years. Malayan Dwarf coconuts are highly resistant to lethal yellowing (95%), but have straight stems and do not have the vigor of the `Jamaican Tall’ coconut. They require fertilizing in March and October with a good palm fertilizer high in boron to maintain vigor. The green form is the most vigorous type available of the Malayan Dwarf varieties. The Maypan coconut is a hybrid with about 90% resistance to lethal yellowing. It has similar vigor and appearance to the `Jamaican Tall’ variety and is better than the Malayan Dwarf types for the oceanfront. Tetracycline injections can still be used on the `Jamaican Tall’ types, but must be redone every three months. Q. I planted some coconut seeds from resistant varieties. How long must I wait until they sprout? A. Sprouting coconuts from seed may not be a good idea because of the active presence of lethal yellowing. The coconuts you collect will probably not have high resistance because they have been cross-pollinated by bees and other insects. You will know the characteristics of the parent coconut, but not know what other coconuts the bees had been visiting. Some coconuts will sprout within a few months and others take longer. Give the coconuts about a year to germinate before throwing them out. Q I recently planted a Madagascar palm and now the leaves are falling off. What is wrong? A. Your palm leaves have scale, which is causing the leaves to drop. Use a systemic insecticide such as Dexol houseplant systemic for control of scale and mealybug. Repeat treatment in 10 days to kill hatching eggs. Q. I had a five-stemmed pygmy date palm, which now only has three stems. The new leaves look grayish-white on the surface. What’s wrong? A. It probably has frizzletop, which can kill the palm. It’s a manganese deficiency. I have seen this on royal palms, paurotis palm, pygmy date palm and queen palm most frequently. Fertilize the palm in March, June and October with palm fertilizer containing manganese. Get manganese sulfate immediately and sprinkle around the palm over the whole area that the leaves cover as well as a foot beyond. Use about ¼ to 1 pound on pygmy date palms, depending on plant size. The tree should recover and make new healthy growth. The manganese treatment should be done every June from now on. 

Q. Our condo association wants to plant queen palms. What do you think? A. Although queen palms are nice looking I consider them overplanted in south Florida. Many condos and commercial properties do not maintain their plantings and you see queen palms in decline or dead all through these projects. Queen palms need an application of a good palm fertilizer in March, June, and October as well as an annual treatment of manganese sulfate of about one pound for every 10 feet of plant height or else death is the result. Q. We have three queen palms. Two have fungal bracts growing on the bottom of the trunks. Can we eradicate this without harming the plants? A. Palms cannot heal wounds or any injury by mower, string trimmer, etc. These injuries provide entry points for various fungal and insect problems. Queen palms are very subject to fatal and incurable Ganoderma butt rot, which enters through wounds near the soil. Fungal bracts on the trunk would indicate the butt rot is active. The palms would last about three to four years and dies. Do not plant any other palms in the area; they will die, too. Replace the palms with a regular tree or shrub. Q. My areca palm keeps losing leaves even though new ones appear. Some leaves are flecked. Is it dying? A. Unfortunately the natural life of areca palm includes fairly constant shedding. The palm produces a new leaf at the top as an old leaf dies off further down the stem. Areca palms are clump-type growers with many stems, so the leaf or frond dropping is a fairly continuous business. It slows in the winter as the palm grows more slowly. If some stems died I would be suspicious of Ganderma butt rot. This is a fairly common problem on areca and queen palms if they are in a poorly draining area or are receiving excess water from the sprinkler. You may see shelf-like mushroom bracts at the base of the palm. Keep your palm on the dry side water no more than two times a week, ½ hour per zone, in the morning only. I usually follow nature and set the sprinkler on manual for the wet season (June through October) and on automatic for the dry season (November through May). Acreca palms should be fertilized in March, June, and October with a good palm fertilizer to encourage vigor. Off-color flecked leaves on areca are from a potassium deficiency. Make sure your fertilizer analysis is high in potassium, the last number of the three main elements.


Q. Our association wants to plant royal palms. Are they hard to grow? How long do they take to get big? A. Royal palms are not hard to grow and they increase in size quite quickly. Be careful where you site them because of the big leaves, 15 to 20 feet long weighing up to 80 pounds, and the huge size of the mature palm, 70 to 100 feet tall. Be sure to keep the trees away from overhead wires. Commercial nurseries and Palm Society sales would probably be the best source on royal palms. Your local retail nursery can order for you. Q. How can we cut off the burlap-like material on coconut palmsIs there a special way to cut off the leaves? How do we keep the large red ants from nesting in the burlap material? A. Cut frond stems off flush with the trunk, but do not cut them above the 10-2 o’clock position on the tree. The 9-3 o’clock position is even better. The tree needs green leaves to make energy for growth. Radical pruning can weaken or kill the palm. The burlap-like material forms at the leaf bases and falls off naturally as the leaves drop off. It can never be removed, as it is part of the plant. You can spray the burlap material with Dursban, which will kill the ants. They may re-nest there in the future but as the tree grows taller the ants will be less of a problem. Q. Can you tell me what is wrong with my palms? The landscaper says they are fine. I can’t stand looking at them A. Nothing is wrong with the palms. They are young “booted” cabbage palms that are the state tree of Florida. The boots are old leaf bases that remain after the leaves are cut off. As the palm gets older the boots fall off leaving a smooth trunk. Ferns and oyster plants are growing in the boots, which is normal and does no harm. If ficus or schefflera start growing in the boots the palm can eventually become strangled and killed. You could have the boots cut off by a good arborist if you desire. “Booted” palms are considered desirable and usually cost more than the smooth older trees but beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. You are definitely not in Kansas anymore from a horticultural standpointQ. My Bismarkia palm has new fronds that are not opening properly. What do you think is causing this? A. Bismarkia palms normally are quite trouble-free. They sometimes have fused leaves if nutrition is a problem. DeArmand Hull, a palm specialist in Dade County advises that manganese deficiency can affect Bismarkias. Fertilize in March, June and October with palm fertilizer and treat yearly with manganese sulphate. Apply manganese sulphate right away.                                       New problems for the Sabal/Cabbage palm, our state tree                 Manatee and Hillsborough Counties are reporting the decline and death of our state tree in their areas.  The fatal decline is caused by a phytoplasma, the Texas Phoenix palm decline which affects the Canary Island, Date, Wild Date, and Queen palms.  The Sabal palms first show an excessive amount of dead leaves at the bottom of the tree.  The next step is the death of the spear leaf and finally all the leaves die.  The bud then decays and the top tips over.  The insect spreading the decline is not known at this time. 

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