Dried-out Leaves On Indoor Palm - Knowledgebase Question

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Question by dap85
February 11, 2000
I recently purchased a very large (ceiling-height) indoor palm-type plant (not sure what kind.) the directions that came with the plant said "bright light, water when soil is dry" and so that is what I have done, however the leaves have been developing brown, dried-out spots, and I have had to remove two entire leaves because they completely dried out.
Can you please give me suggestions on how I should really be watering this plant?

Answer from NGA
February 11, 2000
Since your plant is new, it may simply be adjusting to life outside the perfect conditions it had in the greenhouse and showing some shock. However, there are some things to consider in trying to make it as happy as possible in its new home.

Here are some general guidelines for growing palms indoors:
Give average household to cool household temperatures, with a minimum of
50F in the winter. Most palms will thrive in moderate to low
light conditions, and surprisingly, should be shaded from direct sunlight or they will sunburn. This may be what is happening to your palm.

Palms require good drainage, meaning they do not like a soil that is sopping wet. However, do provide enough water to keep
the soil moist during the spring and summer months, and
allow the top of the soil to dry out slightly between
waterings in the winter time. This would be the top half inch or so of the soil in a very large container.

Also very important, your palm is probably suffering terribly from the dry indoor conditions we have during heating season. Misting may help, but it is more effective to run a humidifier nearby. Grouping plants together and setting them on a pebble tray (a tray full of pebbles with water added to just below the top of the pebbles, set the plant pot on the pebbles.)

Palms are
not heavy feeders, but appreciate one spring and one
summer feeding with a half-strength solution of liquid
fertilizer in place of regular watering.

Palms are sensitive to mineral accumulation in the soil, so leach
the salts out once or twice a year by watering slowly and deeply and let
the water run out of the bottom of the pot for several

Finally, keep the plant away from drafts, both hot and cold. You might also want to examine it very carefully for any signs of pests, either stippling of the foliage or fine webbing or anything else unusual. I hope this helps!

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