Ask a Question forum: Madagascar Palm leaf tips turning black

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Houston, TX; Zone 9A
Apr 22, 2020 8:17 AM CST
I hope someone can help!!! Thank you in advance for your time and attention to my itsy bitsy plant issue.

I've had this Pachypodium Geayi for about 1 year. Halfway through last year the old leaf tips began turning black. After asking the internet and researching, I thought it may have to do with my watering practices, or too much direct bright light. My conclusion last year was that the leaves would all drop over the winter and we can start again in a new location this spring. Not so.

You'll also notice some leaf deformation towards the ends (Not sure what this is caused by either)

Fast forward to now, the plant has begun it's new round of growth, but nearly all leaves are exhibiting the same symptoms of the tips curling over, drying, and turning brown or black.

I've moved it to a location that gets direct sun from sunrise until about 11:30am, and have added a Sustee Aquameter to determine moisture level in the root zone. I wait until the sensor tells me it's dry, give it a few more days, then water thoroughly. This seems to be about every 10 days or so.

I've also given it some fertilizer (3 of these because it's in a 10" pot). Jobes Organic Succulent Food Spikes. You can find more info at home depot dot com /p/Jobe-s-Organics-13lb-Organic-Succulent-Plant-Food-Fertilizer-Spikes-OMRI-Registered-12-Pack-06703/312651546

Thumb of 2020-04-22/eZeke/778bb0

Thumb of 2020-04-22/eZeke/636509

Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Apr 22, 2020 9:47 AM CST
Leaf drop over the winter is customary but not guaranteed, depending on how cold it gets.

It is impossible to give your Pachypodium too much direct sun, barring extreme heat.

I would advise against relying on a moisture meter to figure out when to water, unless you are able to correlate its readings with some other independent assessment of soil moisture (eg. by sticking your finger in there to feel how moist it is under the surface).

You are not watering often enough. Given fast draining soil like what I see in the picture, and mild temps in the 60s or 70s during the day, you can water at least twice as often. I water most of my potted Pachypodiums twice a week when they are leafy and especially when they are putting out new growth. You really don't want the soil to go all the way dry or stay that way for any extended period during the season of active growth.

I would recommend against the plant food spikes and suggest that you use a liquid fertilizer and measure the amount that you use, mainly that you have control over how much food actually reaches the roots and don't have too much local variation. Find something balanced (N-P-K numbers not too different from each other), and use this calculator to figure out how much to add.

I prefer to stay on the low side (50 ppm N) but I know people who grow these for sale may boost the dose 2-4 fold higher during active growth.


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