Parlor Palm problems!

cr491March 3, 2008

Hello, all.

Sorry if this has been posted before, I'm still adjusting to the forum format.

Anyway, in my dorm I have two Parlor Palms. One was meant to replace the other, which was dying. Surprisingly, it recovered. However, both are falling victim to the same plight, and I don't know what it is or how to remedy it. The leaves are a lighter green, with white/silvery patches, almost like polka dots. The new leaves coming out look slightly twisted at the bottom. Bugs do not appear to be the cause here.

I've attached a link to a picture. As I'd hate to lose either plant, I'd greatly appreciate help! Thanks.

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Also, I should note that I water twice a week (when it is dry) and mist every other day or so.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 11:51PM
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The pot looks to maybe be a little big for the size of the plant? It needs a pot with only like an inch of room for the root-ball and good draining soil.

As for their care, parlor palms like bright indirect light and/or dapple sun, not direct sun or the leaves can burn. They don't like to dry out, the drier they get the lighter green they can become.
They don't like to be soggy wet either, they like to be a little on the moist side "At all times" I have a large pot of these with several plants and I water mine usually once a week, if they need it.
The top inch should be nearing dry or just slightly damp but not dried out before watering. Water it enough so it comes out the drain holes, then empty the excess so it's not sitting in water.
Feed only healthy plants and use small amounts, once a month is fine in the spring and summer.

Parlor palms can get attacked by spidermites. If you see any thin, or fine webbing on the fronds, you may have them.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 12:36AM
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One more thing. Twice a week watering seems too much, the soil could be wet down below, so roots could be rotting. You may want to check the roots and make sure they are healthy.
Parlor palms don't really need to be misted.

Here's mine.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 12:48AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Your photo suggests spider mites, which are too small to notice normally and are a common pest of palms indoors. Take a sheet of white paper, hold it under the leaf, and tap the top of the leaf with a pencil eraser. If you get little specks on the paper, they are mites.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 8:16AM
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Thanks for your replies!

I don't think the pot is too big. The reason that the plants (in one of the pots, the other is much larger) are so small is that in September, someone thought it would be fun to urinate on the plants and spray cologne all over them to cover it up. :-\

I have gotten a new roommate who is better about locking the door, however, so I haven't had any such problems. I still may look into repotting the plants, especially since it can't be good for the plant to be in the pot that dead plants were in.

I tried testing for Spider Mites, and fortunately, found none. Could it possibly be the misting damaging the plants?

(Also, I read somewhere about Iron deficiencies causing problems. Could that be it?)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 12:42PM
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stokesjl(5 IA)

greattigerdane, your palm is gorgeous. i don't know why i've never had much luck with these. though my indoor christmas palms which everyone said were bound to fail are thriving. go figure!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 1:50PM
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Thanks stokes!

I didn't know what a Christmas palm was, so I looked it up. That's a nice palm and good for you if you mastered it's care!

Years ago I bought a couple of 3" pots of the parlor palms that were little feathery things, maybe 6"-8" tall for a couple of bucks each. Never had any problems with them. I might just get a few more in the spring and start another pot-full, lol.


Misting can cause problems, so I would stop. It's not nessasary for the health of the plant anyway. You did mention you would water when the soil was dry, that might be one of the problems.
Billy Rae

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 3:57PM
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CR491..I think you answered your question..someone urinated in your palm??? That's disgusting,,...then sprayed cologne to cover it up??? I surely don't blame you for changing room mates..
Is it possible this 'character' urinated in the second palm? Urine is NOT good for roots, will cause all types of problems..most ppl who have this problem, usually have pets: cat/dog, not human..sheesh.
If they were my palms, I'd take outdoors, toss soil, add fresh, and scrub the pot..Since you're in a dorm this might be a problem..When you discovered what was done to your plant you should have leached the soil..set palm under a water source, preferably a hose...since you're in a dorm a shower would do.
If a room is dry and stuffy, mites attack palms, but it sounds more like this urine thing is the issue.
Sorry Billy, but I'm a firm believer in misting/hosing, so I'd continue spraying away.
Your palms should be cleaned anyway, try removing the cologne..if it's not too late..I hope not..Toni

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 6:15PM
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Misting is in the "spray bottle of the beholder" I guess. I don't see where it makes any kind of spectacular difference except clean the leaves and misting won't get rid of your bug problem, long term.
It's fungus and mold problems waiting to happen. I have never misted any of my plants and they don't seem to care.
The water just evaporates too fast to bother. I guess there will always be a disagreement with indoor plant people on misting.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 8:02PM
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I doubt he did it in the second palm because this was prior to switching, and I got the second palm after. This one and the Ti plant survived, though the ti lost some leaves and one of the leaves that survived is in bad shape. It's still growing, though!

I probably should repot, at least for the first two plants. But since they continue to grow, I can't help but think that somehow the misting is the root of the problem. You would think that bugs or rot would retard growth. (sorry for being so difficult!)

Should I just stop misting and see if there's marked improvement in new fronds?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 9:06PM
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nhchicky(5 So NH)

Im having the same problem with my palm. black spots on the leaves. Im tryin to find info on this. mostly so i can treat it. i believe its a fungus. i do not mist my plants. nor is it bugs, mites or over watering. im still looking on what can help stop the spread of this. i have another post in this forum. if i get some good info ill post :) good luck

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 2:25PM
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Can someone help me with the spots on my parlor palm? The spots are small and milky white in color and are everywhere on the fronds, kind of like polka dots... including one spot on a new frond shooting up (that hasn't opened yet). Right now it is bitterly cold outside!

Other than the spots, the palm is small but probably about 4 years old and appears healthy. It was given to me from a funeral dish garden about 2 years ago. (When I first got it, it was doing well after repotting and got noticeably larger over a year's time.) Since then it hasn't grown much more.

I also kept this plant in the bathroom for about 3 months last summer.... could it be toothpaste?! Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 2:47PM
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Hi there

I bought my palm in September last year, I mist it with warm water every other day but some of the leaves are extremely dried out. I did overwater it when I first got it but the problem has continued. Some of the leaves start to go brown at the tips too.

I keep it in a light shade.

What can I do!?

Thank you

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 3:39PM
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Jenny...sounds like a couple problems.
Although you're misting, your palm isn't getting enough humidity.
Take your palm to the sink/shower, 'once a week or more,' let water run over fronds..'not soil.'
Continue misting said it's sprayed with warm you add new water daily? Instead, let water sit, room temp water.

Next, check for mites and/or other pests. Look for webbing on all parts of the palm.
Are its leaves discoloring before drying out? For instance, pale, mottled yellow?

If a palm doesn't get enough humdity AND fresh, circulating air, it's bound to get pests.

If you see webbing, add a couple drops of dish soap in the sprayer and hose away, on a daily basis. Toni

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 2:10AM
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Toni gives you some good tips, although, I have had my parlor palm close to 20 yrs and have yet to mist or keep the humidity high around it. Heavy soil, keeping the soil too wet, or fertilizing too much can cause brown tips. Chlorine and fluoride can be another factor, but I don't see much of that if at all and I have hard water.
You want to keep the light bright, not in hot sun and the soil well draining and continually on the moist side. I water once a week, sometimes I can skip a week because the soil is still moist enough to go another 7 days.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 12:05PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I agree. Low humidity is generally only a factor contributing to another more serious issue that involves a plants inability to take water up fast enough to supply the needs of the parts of the plant above the soil line. The result is the most distal (the parts farthest from the roots) parts of the plant, leaf tips and margins, are usually deprived of water. Low humidity isn't usually the real underlying cause.

Higher humidity on a continual basis is the answer to eliminating the contributing effects of the desert-dry air found in many homes in winter.

Hand misting with spritzers or tank sprayers may raise humidity around the plant for a few minutes until the water dries from the foliage, but it is nearly totally ineffective at raising humidity.

I think the biggest hurdle in the discussion about misting lies in the mistaken idea that it will somehow help prevent or fix spoiled foliage. It won't. The key to unspoiled foliage lies in our ability to eliminate the cultural conditions Billy Rae alluded to, actually ... addressed, directly above.

From a logical perspective, we can look at the fact that I've posted hundreds of pictures of plants and there is never any spoiled foliage to be seen on any of them - not even in the plants in the background. I NEVER mist, so we can conclude that misting is at least unnecessary when it comes to producing plants with unspoiled foliage. At the same time, spoiled foliage is often evident in pictures posted by some of the most vocal proponents of misting. I don't actually believe this spoiled foliage is CAUSED by misting, though there can be negative issues associated with the practice. I believe it is caused by cultural issues that affect root function, inhibiting the plant's ability to move water efficiently.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 9:55AM
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I have something going on with my parlor palm that I hope one of you can help me with. The leaves are sticky and there are very small brown "lumps" all over the fronds that can be rubbed off but keep returning. Even the hardwood floor surrounding the pot is sticky. What is this and what do I treat this with?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 2:47PM
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Fletcher: Sounds like you've got some type of scale insects. Do a search here at GW; you'll find a lot of good advice on combating these nasty little buggers. HTH!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 8:19PM
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