Help! New Kentia Palm is dying!

jctalbotJuly 4, 2012

My husband and I bought this palm a week or two ago and it is not doing well. We transplanted it to a new pot the day we got it. I think that it is a kentia palm, but I am not 100% sure, so please let me know if it is not. I looked up care instructions from several websites and I can't determine if I am over watering or under watering the plant. The general consensus was that if you under water, the plant appears droopy and the tips of the fronds turn brown and that if you are over water the plant the leaves turn yellow and then brown.

My plants seems to be doing all of these things!! It looks droopy, some leaf tips are brown right away and some turn yellow, then brown. One new frond has turn a very ugly brown, but other new ones appear to be doing okay...for now.I determined that the plant was getting too much direct sunlight, so I moved it to a bright corner of the house where it receives indirect sunlight. Is the plant still recovering from too much sun? Does it need a certain type of soil or fertilizer?

We have no experience with indoor house plants and are asking if anyone can look at the photos and let us know what they think the problem is. We want to catch it asap so that we don't kill this plant! It wasn't the cheapest of plants. Please help!!!! Thanks!

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It looks more like a multiple planting of Golden Cane, Dypsis lutescens rather than a Kentia, Howea forsteriana. The Golden Cane does develop multiple stems as it gets older but the Kentia is a single stemmed palm. That doesn't, however, stop nurseries putting a handful of seed in a pot. Another option is a Chamaedora species, maybe a multiple planting of C. elegens, Parlour Palm (which is normally single stemmed). A bit hard to tell from the small photos.

The palm might just be going through transplant shock and start to recover soon. Did you put fertiliser in when you trasplanted? That can be a bit of a shock to the disturbed root system and set the plant back. You'd need to flush the pot out with water to get rid of excess fertiliser if that's the case.

Generally all 3 of those plants I've mentioned do well indoors. But the Golden Cane likes a lot more light than the other 2. They do prefer it to be moist but will take a bit of drying out. Good to get them outdoors now and again, especially into a bit of rain (providing it's not polluted). The Kentia takes more cold than the other 2, the Golden Cane likes it the warmest.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi & welcome to Gardenweb.

Kudos to you for noticing an issue at such an early stage, while it can be easily fixed. Could you describe the repot more? What did the roots look like? Did you remove any of the old soil? Is the new pot much bigger? What kind of soil did you use?

It doesn't look unhealthy overall, but if the tips have turned yellow since you've had it, I would be worried it may be sitting in water in the bottom of the outer decorative pot, especially if there's been more than one watering since the repot. It takes plants a while to use the water from the "unrooted soil" after being repotted, and they should be allowed to dry significantly between waterings. It looks a little big to lift but tipping it slightly to the side should give you an idea of how heavy it is. When it feels significantly lighter, you can know it's pretty dry. You'd want to water before you saw any drooping, but not before it's fairly dry.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 2:06PM
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To purpleinopp,
When we repotted the plant we moved it to a much bigger pot. The roots were very confined in the pot we purchased it in, and it was overdue for a repot. I do not know plants well, but from the roots I've seen, this plant's roots looked healthy and not like they were rotting. I only removed a small amount of the old soil, the root ball/roots were very concentrated and i did not want to tear any of them. This won't help much, but we used a very basic potting soil that can be used for many plants...not a cactus soil or palm soil...if that exists. Honestly we are in Germany and we asked for potting soil and bought the one they gave us.
The decorative pot that the plant is in has holes in the bottom, we drilled some. I know it was never standing in water, but it sounds like the soil was too wet? It seems to be doing better now, but still has some tips turning yellow or brown. Good news is that several new fronds have unfolded and look nice and healthy. What should I do with dead fronds? Cut them? Pull gently until they separate?
Thanks for all your help! Hoep to hear from you .

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 8:04PM
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If it's too dry, smaller lower leaves will go crispy & brown all over.

If it's too wet, leaf tips will go brown with a yellow fringe. If you cut them off at a very acute angle it can hide the effect of this a bit.

To remove dead leaves entirely, just cut them off at the base.

I'm also not sure it's a Kentia - I'd be able to tell if you took a pic more from the side - it looks a bit dense at the base. Could be Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens - I think this is the same as Dypsis by another name). If it is this species, they do tip a lot so not a major worry.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 3:48AM
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JT, welcome to GardenWeb.

It's not written in stone, but when getting new house plants, it's best waiting to repot, a minimum of 3 days.

Palms need humidity, some varieties more than others. With a/c on indoors, air is dry.

My palms are sprayed/showered daily, throughout the year. Especially in winter when gas heat is on and humidity decreases.

Like most plants, soil should dry a little between waterings. Moreso during dark days.

How much larger is the new pot compared to the old? Would you happen to recall, approximately, how much space between root-ball and inner container---after repotting?

The larger the pot the longer soil takes to dry. There are different ways to tell if soil is ready to be watered.

One way to test is by inserting a thin stick/stake deep within the pot. If the stick is wet/moist/muddy, wait before watering. Check again, 3 or so days later. If the stick is dry, then give your palm a drink.

Lifting pot is another way to check..After watering, lift container to test weight.
When soil is dry, the pot will be light in weight. Don't know if you or your hubby is up to lifting pots, lol.

Is your palm getting direct sun? 'Sun hitting plant more than 2-hours per day.'

One last thing. Sometimes, brown tips are caused by tap water. If possible, keep (tap) water in a container, at least 24-hours before you intend on giving your palm a drink.
I save cleaned milk containers..water is room temp and ready to use.

Good Luck, Toni

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 10:09AM
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Chrysalidocarpus lutescens is a synonym of Dypsis lutescens. Areca is an entirely different genus of palms.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 7:33AM
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Areca is used as the common name for the two you name in the trade over here (UK). i.e. if I ring my wholesaler in Holland and say "send me an Areca Palm" I'll get a C/D Lutescens.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Strange that they'd use a genus name of plants as the common name of an unrelated plant. But thinking about it, when it comes to common names some strange things happen, LOL. What happens if you want a 'real' Areca palm, what would you ask for?

I liked the flower markets in Holland (but remind me not to order any Areca vestiaria from them) ;O)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 7:47PM
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Ha, I can do you one better.

Here in IL, employees wouldn't know an Areca Palm from a canary. lol. Botanical or common names do NOT matter. Employees are unaware. Toni

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 12:58PM
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Is that Canary Palm or Canary bird? LOL.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:46PM
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Tropic, lol.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:49PM
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Of course the Kentia is another classic example of name confusion as Kentia ain't its proper latin name, but we all call it Kentia, because it's a lot quicker than saying Howea Forsteriana. Again if I ring Holland and say send me a Kentia, they know what I mean...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 6:14AM
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We have a native Kentia here but often called Northern Kentia (Howea forsteriana won't grow here). It's Hydriastele ramsayi (formerly Gronophyllum ramsayi). Apparently someone saw it and thought it looked like a Kentia, and as they say, the rest is history.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 7:26AM
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SJ or are you as far as ID'ing Palms?

I have a palm purchased when, I think it was named, Botanical Treasures, sold palms in little, paper cones.

I have no idea of its type, but believe it's a desert palm. Just a guess.

What do you think?
I once posted on the Palm Forum, but nobody knew what it was. Toni

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 2:45PM
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Toni, the usual story, the ones I know, I know. And the ones I don't, I don't. But if you put up a photo here I can try. Juveniles can be a bit difficult, as they get bigger it becomes easier.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 6:19PM
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I have five kentias, three in the ground in full sunlight, having planted them a few years ago. The other two are on the northern exposure side of my house, and are very slow growing. The three in full sun did well for about a year or so, then suffered mightily from a rare, rare cold snap here in Ventura back in February. But all in all, they're making a great comeback, and I look forward to their beautifull umbrella-like fronds restoring fully by next spring. I have over thirty palms, a few cycads, and a few ferns (Aussie Tree, Tasmanian, Meyers, etc, and the battle seems to be that, when growing tropical plants at 34 degrees north and beyond, one has to remember to be patient; this is not their home environment. They will grow slower, suffer setbacks, and generally be less vigorous as they slowly adapt to their new climate. Light level is very important, for in equatorial climes, the sun is almost directly overhead year round; thus the symmetry most tropical plants exhibit. And watering there is a daily thing - even the so-called "dry season" brings at least light rain each day.

And so, consider that a palm or cycad or fern is being asked a lot when planting this far (or further) north - a good soaking once a week or so during summer, then back off during winter months, when most tropical plants nearly "shut down".

All sorts of blogs have been posted, but it all comes down to this: Every plant on Earth has one thing in common - the roots seek water.

Therefore, when planting or potting, always remember to put a good layer of sand beneath the root ball, and around it with about a 50/50 mix of sand and Cactus Mix around the sides of the planting hole when filling. Watering will thus suround the roots and leach downward and beyond the lower portions of the roots through the sand, causing the roots to "seek" the water below, establishing in not to much time a healthy root system.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 7:20PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi Palm, welcome to Gardenweb!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 9:10AM
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