Parlour Palm Drying Up - Knowledgebase Question

New York, NY
Avatar for NAgababian
Question by NAgababian
January 27, 1998
My parlour palm, happy with me for 15 years, has suddenly started drying up and withering. I have been misting because of a very hot, dry apartment. What could the problem be, and what else can I do to prevent eventual death?

Answer from NGA
January 27, 1998
The dry air is a possible culprit. Is it right near a heat duct? Continue the misting but be sure it is getting plenty of water as the roots should never be allowed to dry out. (On the other hand, make sure the soil isn't soggy.) Sometimes cold air may cause this problem as well. Could it be in a draft?

Since you've had the plant so long, you must be doing a good job with watering and fertilizing. And if it has survived other winters in the apartment atmosphere, then something else may bewrong. Inspect the plant carefully for any signs of insect or disease. Spray the new growth with a very fine mist of water, and look for very fine webbing. Spider mites are a common pest, and they especially love hot, dry conditions. If you see any webs,spray the entire plant, including the undersides of the leaves, with insecticidal soap (following label directions). Look also for any small, cottony-looking insects (mealybugs) and 1/8" oval bumps (scale).

Be aware, as I'm sure you are after 15 years, that the lowest leaves will die naturally. They can just be cut (rather than pulled.)

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