The Q&A Archives: Fan Palm Problem

Question: Hi,
I have two Fan Palms on my deck in whiskey barrels. Both were planted the same and at the same time. One is doing very well while the other seems to be stunted. The stunted palm has leaves/fronds that are opening just above the trunk rather than fully extending themselves like my other palm. I noticed one of the new leaves/fronds had a little blackeness in the middle of it which I cut off immediately. The other leaves/fronds are green with a little yellowing on the outer edges, but just do not grow long enought to surpass the trunk. Can you help? Thank you!

Answer: There are two common causes for deformed fronds; Palms are very sensitive to the depth at which they are planted. Planting as little as two to three inches too deeply can result in a slow decline of the palm. If left uncorrected, the palm will eventually die. It is usually a very slow process, sometimes taking 2-3 years before the palm dies. When palms are planted too deeply, the root system stays too wet. This usually leads to a fungal rot in the root ball. The palm will appear sparse and thin on top. Mulching too deeply can also cause this decline.

The second reason is Manganese (Mn) deficiency. It manifests itself as deformed growth on the emerging fronds. The new growth will appear stunted, crinkled and curled at the tips. If left untreated, the palm will eventually die. If caught soon enough, a Mn deficiency can be corrected with applications of fertilizers containing trace elements. (Apply in amounts as recommended on the label). Once the palm has recovered, it should perform well for you.

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