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Monday, July 10, 2017

Palm Fronds Browning on Multi-Trunked Tree

Q. I have two multi-trunk Palm trees in my backyard, same size. One has had brown fronds in the middle of the  main trunk  ever since it was planted 5 years age while the one on the right one has always had green fronds.  Looks like the brown fronds are now moving up the main truck.  I  fertilize each of these trees in June, July and August and each gets the same amount of water.   Looks like I am going to lose the palm.

A. The browning is a combination of water, soil nutrient and management issues.

Water. The Palm is either not getting enough water or getting watered too often. Do not water every day. If you are not watering every day but watering a few days apart or longer, then increase the number and/or the size of the drip emitters irrigating the palms. 

This is a better solution than bumping up the minutes since everything else on this valve will get an increase in water. If you find that water is running out of this area under the palm tree, then break your irrigation into 2 or 3 separate waterings within our separation between.

Soil nutrients. Either these palm trees are not getting the fertilizer they need or they have been fertilized but you're not getting much of a good response. Put about 2 cubic feet of compost under the tree and water it in with a hose. Putting some iron chelate under the compost before you water it in. 

These palms will do much better if the soil surrounding their roots is covered with 3 to 4 inches of wood chip mulch. This is not bark mulch but woodchip mulch. The woodchip mulch will begin to dissolve into the soil and add organics. So will the compost. If you want a faster response from the compost, dig about 6 vertical holes in the soil with a post hole digger about 18 inches deep. Backfill these holes with compost and water it in thoroughly.
Woodchips laid on the soil surface and decomposing and improving the soil beneath it
Management. Notice how the fronds are not bad looking at the top but they get pretty brown and ugly closer to the ground. These palms should be pruned. Remove any fronds that are lower than horizontal. 

Remove these fronds as close to the trunk as you can. Consider skinning the palm with a linoleum knife or box cutter. This removes the base of the frond, exposes the trunk, and makes it look very sophisticated. Cutting off the bottom fronds will improve the look of these palms by exposing the trunk.

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