The Q&A Archives: leave is dry

Question: I have rhapis palm I do watering everyday but I noticed the leaves is getting dry what is the cause of this . thanx Joselito

Answer: Watering is the #1 problem with just about every plant problem in the arid Southwest. Once a plant has been in the ground for a couple months and established roots, watering every day is not beneficial. Many people think because it is so hot in the desert, they must water that often, but in reality, it is better to water deeply, but as infrequently as possible. Without knowing exactly how much water is being applied with your system, I can't give a specific answer, but overwatering drowns roots, as they need oxygen to survive and constantly wet soil forces out the oxygen molecules. Or, more often, the problem is insufficient water is not penetrating the root system deeply, perhaps just getting the top of the soil wet. This is very common with drip systems, which are programmed to turn on frequently for short times when they are first set up, but then are not reprogrammed as plants mature.

I can't tell you exactly how long to run your water because I don't know if you are handwatering with a hose, or have an irrigation system Use the 1-2-3 Rule as an easy method to figure out how much water to apply. Small plants with shallow root systems, such as perennials, veggies, herbs, cacti, succulents have roots that reach about 1 foot deep, so water needs to penetrate that far. When the top 1 inch of soil dries out, it's usually time to water again. Shrubs have root systems that are 2 feet deep so water needs to soak 2 feet deep. When the top 2 inches of soil dries out, it's time to water. Trees are 3 feet, etc. I'm assuming your palm is fairly young, so watering 2 feet deep should be fine. As plants establish root systems, the time between waterings can be lengthened, but it is always essential to water to the same depth. So you are applying the same amount of water with each irrigation regardless of the time of year, but the frequency changes. Finally, some palms are susceptible to salt burn. Short periods of watering cause salts to build up in the top layers of soil and damage or kill your plant. Salt burn shows up as yellowing, browning along leaf edges, and leaf drop. Deep watering?or leaching?prevents this by flushing the salts past the root zone. Always water slowly, deeply and as infrequently as possible. I hope this info helps.

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