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Pygmy Date Palm problems

Posted by skinnyguy76 Indiana (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 23, 08 at 21:02

I purchased two very healthy three stemmed pygmy date palms from a big box retailer a month or so ago. I have noticed some of the ends of the fronds turning a dark brown and am unsure of the cause. I have done a lot of searching online and have found many conflicting answers.

I repotted them into larger pots after purchase using standard potting soil and the typical gravel in the bottom, etc. I did notice that they were heavily root bound and pulled and pruned the circled roots. I did read on one post that this could be the problem.

The plants are in the corner windows of a south facing room and get direct sunlight when we open the shades, which I admit is a little haphazardly. I water once a week or a little more whenever the soil is pretty dry the depth of my finger or so.

There is a heating vent close to both, but the fronds that are browning aren't the ones that are hanging over it. I thought at first it was just the fronds touching the cold window, but there have been some fronds in the center of the plant browning on the ends too.

Don't know if this is just transplant shock that will pass, or if I need to change something. Also, not sure how much damage I did pruning the roots. Seemed to be fine for the first three weeks so I'm unsure if the root pruning was the problem.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Pygmy Date Palm problems

  • Posted by bihai zone 9 (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 24, 08 at 21:17

I wish I could help you, but we only grow these outdoors, planted in the yard. I have never actually known anyone who tried to grow a Phoenix pygmy as a houseplant.


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RE: Pygmy Date Palm problems

If you could post a closeup photo of the plant and the leaves (tops and bottoms) we might be able to help. Could be dry air, could be under or over watering. Or it could be spider mites. I'd check for mites first.


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RE: Pygmy Date Palm problems

I bought 4 of them last year and put them in big containers outdoors. One of the four now only has 1 trunk (they all started out with 3!). They all went through the browning leaf stage and recovered - I believe it is shock.

The same happened with a Mexican palm and sago palm. They will recover eventually. Hope this helps.


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RE: Pygmy Date Palm problems

I take care of indoor plants at a hospital and had a pygmy date palm with this problem (brown ends on the fronds). The hospital uses a water softener, which isnt good for some plants. Not too long after switching to unsoftened (unsalted) water, new emerging fronds grew out without the brown ends and there has been no problem since. Unfortunately you have to wait for the old ones to die off as they never go back to green on their own. If folks dispute the issue of whether or not there is added salt in softened water, research it from the standpoint of a HUMAN who requires a low sodium diet and find that they are told to not drink softened water.


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RE: Pygmy Date Palm problems

I found date palms hard to keep looking nice, even after trying to grow it outdoors one year in bright shade/some sun.The ends looked terrible, they never stopped browning and turning crispy dry, even after flushing the soil and not fertilizing for while and it didn't help at all.It just always looked terrible.
My Areca Palm and Parlor palms which I have had for yrs do great with the same care the date palm was getting.I won't buy another date palm.

Billy Rae


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RE: Pygmy Date Palm problems

I'm guilty of neglecting my PDP the last two years. :)
One way to prevent brown tips is keeping your palm away from dry heat. A room w/o a heater, (not below 40F) is perfect. Circulating air is helpful, too.
They look their best with bright to full-sun in winter, and medium to bright-indirect sun in summer.

Although PDP's doesn't require as much humidity as some palms, daily misting/weakly showering perks up and cleans fronds.

My PDP is fertilized with Palm Fertilizer from March-Sept/Oct, and a dose of Epsom Salts every couple months.

Repotting from a small container to extra large will surely shock this palm as it would most other plants.
When transplanting, increase 1-2 sizes up. Spring/early summer is the best time to repot.

PDP's are slow-growing, so infrequent fertilizers or time-release is suitable. Too much fertilizer will cause problems.
The same applies to repotting in containers 5 times larger than necessary.

PDP is one beautiful palm, the prettiest, or at least the top 10, of all palms. In a perfect climate they're fragile fronds are without mars.

Water more in summer, enough to keep soil moderately moist, less in winter. Drainage holes are important. Toni


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RE: Pygmy Date Palm problems

I have three triple trunk pygmy date palms in my yard. Twice now one of the trunks has literally snapped about 6 inches from the base and has completely fallen over. The plants were healthy with string green fronds and no obvious issues. Has anyone seem this or knows why this happens?


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RE: Pygmy Date Palm problems

Is your Phoenix Robillini planted in the garden or a pot? Toni


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