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Kentia Palm Going Downhill Fast!

Hi All, I am posting as a last resort having already read advice on-line over a number of Months.
My Kentia Palm is showing multiple symptoms of different issues! It seemed fine in the summer but is going down hill fast this winter.
It has some brown and dry tips on lower leaves. It has dark and light patches in the centre of leaves on some higher fronds. It has some yellow spots on some fronds. The new growth Spears of which there are several, even have crispy brown tips and have not opened.
I only water it when the top inch or more is dry. It has no standing water in the outer pot (although it did after watering, but I empty any excess after a few hours. Currently the soil 1 inch down has some moisture in it.
I use a slow release palm fertiliser, weighed out correctly every 3 months. It lives in the far corner of a south facing room out of direct sunlight, but I move it nearer to the window for some light in the winter months. I really like the palm, anything I can do to save it?


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  • PlantmindedPlantminded Wirral (free draining sandy soil)Posts: 1,755
    It may be getting pot bound and could do with repotting into a slightly larger pot with some good quality moisture retaining compost.  I did that with mine last year and it has doubled in size.  Also, when you water, thoroughly soak the compost so that it runs out of the bottom and then allow the top two inches to dry out before watering again.
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,376
    edited 23 January
    Hi All, I am posting as a last resort having already read advice on-line over a number of Months.


    Ah! The sort of poster I like; you have tried first to learn for yourself.

    I see no problem with your palm's health.  Just a bit of drying out locally.  Perhaps the environment is not humid enough.  Perhaps localisd sun burning, or contact with a radiator or similar heat-source.

    Just tackle the problem cosmetically.  Trim off anything that doesn't look good.  New growth is the area to pay most attention to.  How long have you had the plant?  It may be liking its winter conditions less than the summer. The air in houses can be much drier in the winter.  Far recesses can be very dark.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • edited 23 January
    Thanks. I bought the plant last spring. I do "mist" it whenever I remember, but yes the room could be much drier in the winter relying on central heating. The location of the plant is not near to any radiator.
    It's good to know it doesn't look too bad to you. 
    I have considered re-potting but some posts I have read suggest that Kentias don't like and usually don't need this, but it sounds like @Plantminded has had success with this.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Wirral (free draining sandy soil)Posts: 1,755
    The benefits of misting indoor plants is debatable.  Much better to direct water at the roots.  I've found that this plant requires quite a bit of water, especially in winter when the central heating is on.  The white deposit on the surface of your compost also indicates a build up of salts due to using tap water.  It's better use rainwater or filtered water, according to my houseplant books!
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,376
    edited 23 January
    Filtered water ( meaning filtered through active charcoal) is a waste of time.  I may remove chlorine, but I have never found this to be a problem.

    It seems to me to be in the right size pot.  No need to fertilise until it starts to grow.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • Robert WestRobert West Posts: 173
    Hello,

    I have a kentia palm that looked great when I bought it but looked awful a year later. Turns out (after showing it to a lady at a garden centre) it was because I had been using tap water. We have hard water here and the salts form a crust on the roots stopping them from doing their thing. You can see those salts on the surface of the soil.

    Ever since  then I've used rain water from the water butt and it's been fine,but it took a full year to really recover. I'd personally recommend removing as much soil as you can, repotting it in fresh compost and then 'flush it through' with rain water. 

    It might suffer for a while but should recover.

    I think I once read that you can add a tiny amount of vinegar (a couple of drops maybe) to the rain water to make it slightly acidic, which over time will help dissolve the salts around the roots, but I'd read up on it before doing anything like that. Don't want to do more harm than good. 
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,376
    edited 24 January
    I think I once read that you can add a tiny amount of vinegar 
    Look away, punkboy.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,376
    edited 24 January
    Kentia palms are native to Lord Howe Island and grow well on Norfolk Island.    So, South Pacific, Brisbane-ish latitude.  This gives a clue to its needs.  Humid.

    Volcanic soil, so probably acidic, although the coast will be coral-derived sand.

    Safest to use rainwater or clothes dryer condensate to water.



    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • Thanks everybody. Some great tips here. It may be some time, but I'll report back on progress.
    Love the tumble dryer water tip! Never thought of that, but of course it is condensate, and so is demineralised!
  • Bee witchedBee witched Scottish BordersPosts: 1,099
    Just to say it depends where you live @tickersmobile5PtB9ayd

    I've always used tap water on mine .... and it's in great health and is bigger than me.
    But we have lovely soft water here in Scotland .... so no need to go to all the bother collecting rainwater.
    If you are also in a soft water area, then tap water will be fine.

    Bee x

    Bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey   
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