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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Canary Island Palm Fronds Dying

Q. I have a canary Island date palm that actually looks like it’s dying, or at least the fronds are. If you look closely even the fronds towards the center appear to be drying out. Have you ever seen anything like this and can anything be done? 
Canary Island Date Palm with Fronds Turning Brown

A. Usually when you see this kind of thing going on in palms it is most likely water related. Like so many times it's either too much or too little water.
When we’re talking about too much, it's not giving it too much water in a single application, it is giving it water too frequently and the soil does not dry out between irrigations.
These types of palms can use a fair amount of water so if they are in a desert landscaping they really need to get a lot in one application. A lot of water meaning 50 or 60 gallons in one irrigation.
They perform really well in a lawn or surrounded by other high water use plants. These are oasis plants, not true desert plants. But keep in mind, they do not like soils that are held constantly wet.
Possible, but less likely, are disease or insect problems. There is a disease problem that can attack the central bud at the top of the trunk, weakening it and eventually killing the tree. If this is the problem, there is not much you can do but wait it out and hope for recovery.
There is an insect called the giant palm borer that can attack the trunk of the tree, weakening it and eventually killing it. You would see holes in the trunk of the tree about half an inch in diameter. These are the exit holes that the adult beetle has flown from.
I would concentrate on whether the tree is getting not enough water or is being watered too often. If you suspect it might be a lack of water, flood the area under the tree with the hose once a week over the next month to see if you can get it to recover.
If the irrigation system is coming on several times during the week you might consider you are watering it too often, keeping the too soil wet. Give it more water during irrigation but do it less often.

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