The Q&A Archives: Is my cardboard palm dying?

Question: I neglected to water my palm for about a week. Then it started to develop this brown fuzz over the leaves and the stems. Little by little the leaves turn brown and die. Is this a disease of some kind? Is there anything I can do?



Answer: This plant (Zamia) is fairly drought tolerant so I don't think the missed watering is directly related to the fuzz and browning. I think your plant may have spider mites. These are usually accompanied by very fine webbing on the foliage and stems. These can be treated with insecticidal soap. Read and follow the label directions and be sure to spray all surfaces of the plant when you apply it.

If there is no webbing, and the fuzz is actually little bumps attached to the leaves, then it may have a scale insect problem. This can be treated with horticultural oil sprays. Spray the plant weekly over a period of about six weeks to kill the adults and any crawlers that hatch over time. Before each spray, wash the plant with a strong spray of water to remove as much of the scale debris as possible and then let it dry before using the oil. Then read and follow the directions on the oil spray label.

In either case, also remove the dead leaves. I'm sorry about your plant.

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