Removing soil from Areca root ball

Palm_shadeMay 10, 2013

Hi like the title suggests id like to completely remove and replace the soil from an Areca root ball, its about 22 cm in a tight mass, the soil it was sold in is very water retentive also id like to maybe rootprune, I feel it would be beneficial (in my limitied opinion) so is this possible to achieve? I know palms are sensitive to root disturbance but I feel if I dont the palm will never flourish or grow well.
If anybody knows what would be the best way to go about this?

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

If the plant has a fibrous root system, try cutting off the bottom 1/3 of the roots, then cutting pie slice wedges out of the remaining root mass, such that it enables you to change all the old soil over 2-3 repottings instead of at 1 sitting.

I keep hearing how palms are so sensitive to root disturbance, but so are they sensitive to root congestion and soil compaction - as are all plants. There is no question they wouldn't gain vitality from a reduction in the adverse conditions. My first thought is that if some of the growers who repeat the mantra that their (palms) roots react poorly to being tampered with actually were familiar with proper root pruning techniques, the more forward thinking growers would be able to throw off the limitations imposed by letting nature nature take it's course, instead of actually managing the root system so it can function closer to how it would with in situ plants.

I wish I had some MI volunteers who would let me work on their palms, so I could be sure, instead of just quite sure. Hmmmm - I just had an idea. I think I'll talk to some friends at Dow Gardens and see if they want some help repotting what I'm sure are some really root-bound palms.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 5:08PM
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Palms vary greatly in root sensitivity. Some you can treat very roughly/root prune and they still keep going. And some others die with the slightest interference with their roots.

When you say Areca I assume you mean Golden Cane, Dypsis lutescens. I've seen references in the UK to Areca that were Golden Canes, but Areca is a totally unrelated genus of palm.

Golden Canes are quite tough, provided they're kept warm. I have some large ones which regularly seed and the ground around them is covered with seedlings (some over a metre tall). I've dug up lots of these, given them away or replanted elsewhere. Never had any problems from root damage. I do trim a lot of the fronds off to reduce stress and it works out well. The climate here is much warmer than yours, so I'd say you just need to watch warmth and drying out. Otherwise I'd think it should be okay to go ahead.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:25AM
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Its commonly known here as Areca or Butterfly Palm but I did a quick google and apprently its is also known as Goldern Cane so yeah were talking about the same tree :)
Thats good news, I will go ahead and remove the soil and root prune with more confidence.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 4:26AM
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This is a link to Areca palms:

Try washing out the old soil with water, then you'll be able to see the extent of the roots before you start cutting. Good luck with it.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 1:36AM
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Palm_shade, is this the same palm you pictured on the 'Garden Clinic' forum?
Generally, a problem at the roots of a plant shows up at the growing tips. If the palm in the photograph is rooted in a water retentive medium, I would expect the leaflets on the fronds at the top of the stalk to die back and the die back to be limp as opposed to crisp.
Palms generally draw water and nutrients out of the aged (lower) fronds before these are shed. (Mother Nature at her conservational best!)
Drought symptoms first appear on the lower fronds and are characterized by a crispiness.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 7:02AM
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Yeah its the same palm, I was curious about the red spider mite but i know for sure I have Sciarid fly, might that be the cause then? I read the Sciarid young eat roots so that's another reason I want to remove the soil.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 11:07AM
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Tropic or who ever might know how are canary island date palms for sensitive roots? I want to replace there soil aswell but cant find much info.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 6:58AM
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I've never tried Canary Island Date Palms (CIDP), they won't grow here. But I know that in some places they dig large ones up and move them. It takes a bit of preparation but a lot of roots must be severed in the process. I can't imagine them being too sensitive.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Thanks that will be my next project.
I operated on 1 of my Arecas root ball, the soil was mixed with sand and compacted isnt the word.. took me 4 hours of gentle teasing the soil out with a wooden tool and a final wash in the shower, the soil was to compact to use water untill it was nearly all gone, so.. so far so good. I did it Tuesday and no signs indicating problems, I will do the other 1 saturday.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:29AM
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