Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: First Plant — Brighamia Insignis

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Name: Curry
London, United Kingdom
Curry
Sep 24, 2016 11:08 AM CST
Hi everyone,

I just joined off the back of having bought my first plant at the start of the week: a Brighamia Insignis / Hawaiian Palm from Bakker.com. My rationale was that I figured if I can look after a plant, I can probably look after a dog, and if I can look after a dog I can probably look after a kid (when the time comes, at least).

That being said, ever since the plant arrived, I've felt like a bit of a helicopter parent because I'm concerned the thing's dying already!

For one — since it arrived on Monday, its leaves have lost a bit of their vibrant green colour, and sagged slightly (note the differences between picture #1 & picture #2). What's more, there are these little white specs on the leaves that can't be scraped off (see picture #2 & picture #3); is this some kind of pest/parasite maybe?

I live in the UK, so not quite a Hawaiian climate. It's currently sitting on my nightstand, which is about two metres from a south-facing window. Do any of you think I have reason to be concerned, or have any tips to offer me? I'm the newest of the new, but looking forward to learning more.

Cheers!
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 24, 2016 11:27 AM CST
Welcome!

That is an ambitious choice for your first plant. It will need a lot of light indoors (as much as you can provide) and you will have to watch the watering, so you don't do it too often or not often enough (wait until the soil is almost dry). 2 meters from a south facing window is about 2 meters too much. These plants crash real fast in low light. When you pot it up, be sure to use a well-draining soil with lots of perlite/pumice/whatever. And according to my guide book (Pachyforms, which I recommend, covers a wide variety of species) it does not require a winter dormancy, meaning you can/should water year round. Watch out for bugs. I can't tell what the white spots in the picture might be, but bugs are a known issue with this plant (supposedly making it touchy to grow) so best to keep an eye out and stay on top of the situation.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Sep 24, 2016 11:28 AM (+)]
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Name: Curry
London, United Kingdom
Curry
Sep 25, 2016 2:09 PM CST
Okay, noted; it's now living on the window sill.

I've kept it in the pot it came with, ahead of repotting when I get can buy some better draining soil, but — for the time being — it's just in the soil it arrived in (see picture). I gave it a little water on Tuesday, then a more thorough watering today, so I probably won't be touching it until next Sunday-ish I'll bet.

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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 25, 2016 2:29 PM CST
Looks good. I would think with good light you could water once a week if the soil is fast-draining, or once every two weeks if less so. Cloudy days might count as half a day in that general scheme. Water well, and make sure the plant is not sitting in water afterwards.

Time your repotting (whenever it does occur) to coincide with when you think the soil is going dry, around the time you might otherwise be watering, so you can have easy visual confirmation of the moisture in the soil. That's like an info freebie which can help you time the watering cycle down the road so your plant stays in the zone. I have never grown one of these but they are pretty awesome when they get big, and quite unique being from Hawaii.
Name: Curry
London, United Kingdom
Curry
Oct 4, 2016 3:23 AM CST
Here's the latest after a week.

I watered it a little bit last Sunday, and then again the Sunday just gone. I'm going to skip this coming Sunday to see if it perks up, and in case I'm overwatering him. His soil's not as fast draining as I'd like (but just the soil it came with, though I don't want to repot it until I know it can deal with the stress).

Its two largest leaves are starting to yellow, and its third largest is very limp. I'm sure I heard somewhere that even if it loses a lot of leaves, they'll grow back.

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Name: Deborah Pryor
Orangeburg, SC Zone 8a (Zone 8a)
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Deebie
Oct 4, 2016 6:42 AM CST
It looks like you're overwatering. Don't water unless the soil is dry. If I'm not mistaken, this plant stores water in it's thick trunk. Maybe @Reine can help you. She grows several Pachypodiums/
caudiciforms (sp?).
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Oct 4, 2016 9:43 AM CST
You're probably seeing the effects of the change of seasons and that's nothing to be concerned about. If the plant loses all its leaves then cut way back on watering until the spring. Definitely rotate the plant in the meantime if it appears to be leaning toward the light.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Oct 4, 2016 3:24 PM CST
It may be too chilly. I just looked at the website where you purchased your plant. Four things stand out: keep it warm, water sparingly, keep it in bright light, use cactus appropriate soil. I do not agree with their suggestion to put a layer of gravel in the bottom of your pot.

https://www.bakker.com/en-gb/p/hawaiian-palm-M45688

Have you looked at the white spots with a magnifying glass?

I visualize you never having children because you failed with one difficult plant.
[Last edited by DaisyI - Oct 4, 2016 3:25 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Oct 4, 2016 6:07 PM CST
The temperature should be above 60°F/15°C to avoid problems with cold, and ideally humidity in the range of 60-70% (which may be more of an issue in the winter). I agree with Daisy about the gravel at the bottom of the pot.

It is normal for the plant to lose leaves over time but they will not grow back. The plant just gets taller and sprouts new leaves at the crown.
Name: Curry
London, United Kingdom
Curry
Oct 11, 2016 7:15 AM CST
Thanks for all of your replies! I haven't watered it since my last post, but I think you might be right, @Daisyl; looks like kids are definitely off the cards! Poor fella.

Here's a current pic:
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Baja_Costero said:Definitely rotate the plant in the meantime if it appears to be leaning toward the light.

I can certainly do this, although the plant had a natural lean when I bought it (see the first pic in the thread).

DaisyI said:It may be too chilly. I just looked at the website where you purchased your plant. Four things stand out: keep it warm, water sparingly, keep it in bright light, use cactus appropriate soil.

Cold could definitely be an issue because it's perched next to the window, and autumn/fall is just starting. Likewise, I haven't repotted it since it arrived, so it's currently not in any cactus soil that I'm aware of, either — just the soil it arrived in.

DaisyI said:Have you looked at the white spots with a magnifying glass?

I haven't, but will give this a go and see if anything sticks out. From what I've read, the white spots are just sap; nothing to be concerned about, apparently.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Oct 11, 2016 12:27 PM CST
Don't repot any time soon. Wait until the current situation resolves and there is new growth, most likely in the spring. This is either a seasonal slowdown or a crash, either way the timing is wrong. In the meantime point the plant away from the window or it will lean even more in that direction. And keep the water to a minimum, like every 2 weeks maybe, depending on the temp/humidity. Maybe more often if you have the heat on in the winter and the air is dry.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Oct 12, 2016 9:24 PM CST
Hopefully your plant is suffering from the shock of leaving its nice warm greenhouse for your chilly window. That happens with greenhouse grown plants. Do as Baja has suggested: no re-potting, very little water until you see signs of life next spring. If the trunk is solid, your plant is still alive.
Name: Curry
London, United Kingdom
Curry
Oct 25, 2016 3:37 AM CST
DaisyI said:Hopefully your plant is suffering from the shock of leaving its nice warm greenhouse for your chilly window. That happens with greenhouse grown plants. Do as Baja has suggested: no re-potting, very little water until you see signs of life next spring. If the trunk is solid, your plant is still alive.

Looks like he's gone.
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Gonna get a new one once spring rolls around. Looking at buying a coffee plant in the meantime.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Oct 25, 2016 9:44 AM CST
I'm sorry to hear your plant gave up the ghost. As I mentioned at the very top of the thread, that was an ambitious choice. If there's a take home lesson here, as much as anything, it would be that a Brighamia is not an easy house plant, no matter what the vendor's web site may suggest. They are very demanding about light. If you can provide direct sun in the spring (no window in the way) then it might be worth another try, otherwise I would suggest another plant that's more likely to power on through. If you're looking for a succulent that does well in lower light situations, consider a Sansevieria or a Haworthia, maybe. There's a lot of diversity in that area. Maybe Daisy or someone else would have more suggestions.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Oct 25, 2016 2:57 PM (+)]
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Name: 'CareBear'

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Stush2019
Oct 28, 2016 1:00 PM CST
Don't throw it out. Leave it dry out and forget about it. Keep it in a bright spot. It just might spring back from the roots to a new shoot. Got nothing to loose now. See 'Back from the Dead Plants'.
Start with Sansevieria or Haworthias. Much more forgiving.
Also welcome aboard.
Stush
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Oct 31, 2016 11:18 AM CST
Got to give my 2 cents worth !!!
Like Daisy said the trunk is a resevore of water. Hope you havent thrown him out !!# He needs the right kind of medium to grow in. The hell with timing. Re-pot him (should have been done when u got him) the medium he is in is probaby good 4 Hawaii. Then water every 2 or 4 weeks. Water kills. Stress dosent. So stress him ###. Good luck. Thumbs up I tip my hat to you.
😎😎😎
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Oct 31, 2016 11:59 AM CST
The plant is gone. Keep it as long as you want to convince yourself, but there's no coming back from rot like that unless you carve it all out and (what's left of) the plant somehow recovers. Be sure to bleach the pot afterwards.

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