Ask a Question forum→Madagascar Palm New Leaves Dying

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Name: Ginya
New York (Zone 7b)
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ginya703
Jun 4, 2020 9:38 AM CST
I've had my Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei) for around 2 years now and it was doing well the first year and then sometime last summer it started to have issues. Just to note, I had not changed anything. It was putting out new growth but all of the new leaves would start to immediately (or soon after) blacken at their tips, slowly shriveling up the leaf until it fell off (which explains why there's a bald gap in the middle now). The old leaves remained unaffected.

At that time, I brought it back to the plant shop where I had bought it and they inspected it and repotted it as the roots were starting to grow out of the bottom of the planter. They didn't seen any obvious pests but did note that a part of the base of the trunk had some slight give/softness (the roots looked fine according to them though). They also replaced the very aerated mix (which was mostly chunky pieces of bark) with coco coir, which I didn't know anything about at the time but they said it would be good for quick drainage. Based on what I've since read, it actually retains more water and I did notice that it appeared to stay moist for a longer time (correct me if I'm wrong!). Once I realized this, I attempted to combat it by watering less (I went from watering once every week to once every two weeks).

Fast forward to spring/now and the palm has started to put out new growth. The trunk is hard and solid again and for a bit it was doing okay (which is why there are some longer leaves at the the top!) but has started to again show the same issues with the newest leaves. I repotted about a week ago since the roots were again growing out of the bottom and I also changed the coco coir to a much more gritty mix (cactus soil + Jack Bonsai) to ensure proper drainage. Still, despite all of the new growth, all of the new leaves eventually start to darken and go limp. I have tried to look under leaves for pests but still don't see any obvious ones. The only thing to note here is that the shriveled leaves appear to be leaking orange-y droplets of sap (you can see it in some of the pics where they've hardened), there are some faint brown splotches/spots and I have noticed one or two clear hard crystals on some of the youngest growth (see the close-up pic of the new growth--there's a tiny crystal on the top right), along with what appears to be one or two superthin clear threads (not enough for me to call it a web) but again, I don't see any bugs. I also tried the shake-leaf-over-paper trick to see if any spider mites fall off but nothing there either.

I have since continued to give it full direct sunlight in my west-facing window and am watering once a week. Any idea on what's going on here? Overwatering? Underwatering? Pests? Fungal? Something else?

Sorry for the long post but wanted to be thorough. I appreciate any help!

EDIT: See my second post for all photos!

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[Last edited by ginya703 - Jun 4, 2020 9:47 AM (+)]
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Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
Quitter's never Win
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oneeyeluke
Jun 4, 2020 9:39 AM CST
Post a photo of the plant going into the soil and container.
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
Name: Ginya
New York (Zone 7b)
Image
ginya703
Jun 4, 2020 9:47 AM CST
oneeyeluke said:Post a photo of the plant going into the soil and container.


Here are several more photos! Let me know if this helps.

Also, just to note, the bottom section is actually a cleverly hidden drainage dish (the top portion of the planter lifts off of it), just in case you're wondering if there is drainage!

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[Last edited by ginya703 - Jun 4, 2020 9:50 AM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Jun 4, 2020 9:50 AM CST
In a gritty mix like you have described (way better than the cocofiber the plant was previously in) you probably should be watering once a week (indoors at this time of year), depending on how well the roots are filling the container. Water more often when the plant is in active growth, less often when it goes (mostly or completely) leafless in winter. I suspect the issue is the plant hasn't been getting enough water.

You cannot provide too much light indoors, and the more the better.

More about the genus here:

The Pachypodiums Database

Welcome!
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 4, 2020 10:31 AM (+)]
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Name: Ginya
New York (Zone 7b)
Image
ginya703
Jun 4, 2020 11:33 AM CST
Baja_Costero said:In a gritty mix like you have described (way better than the cocofiber the plant was previously in) you probably should be watering once a week (indoors at this time of year), depending on how well the roots are filling the container. Water more often when the plant is in active growth, less often when it goes (mostly or completely) leafless in winter. I suspect the issue is the plant hasn't been getting enough water.

You cannot provide too much light indoors, and the more the better.

More about the genus here:

The Pachypodiums Database

Welcome!


Thanks! I just watered and will do so weekly. Keep you posted on what happens.
Name: Ginya
New York (Zone 7b)
Image
ginya703
Nov 25, 2020 9:37 AM CST
So, months later and I'm back. The situation never improved and I also realized that the planter I was using was keeping the soil wet for too long due to its glazed interior so I ended up repotting sometime mid-summer to regular terracotta.

That said, it's now fall in NYC with temps in the mid '50s and I've cut way back on watering (like, barely ever). Most of the older leaves have dropped and there is still some new growth but is very slow so no browning of them yet. Something I have noticed, though, is that some older leaves have what looks like moldy patches --attaching photos for reference. They're small fuzzy white-ish patches and the undersides of the leaf in those areas are a bit reddish. Does anyone have any insight here?

Also, I realized that when I repotted this guy, I didn't put him deep enough. Is it not a good idea to repot/readjust him now or wait till spring?
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
Image
Baja_Costero
Nov 25, 2020 9:42 AM CST
The leaves tend to look pretty scrappy in the weeks before they fall for the season (which yours are about to do). I think you're just seeing the natural process of senescence at the end of the growing season. I wouldn't worry about it. Definitely cut way back on the water over the winter, but I don't think it's helpful to withhold water completely. Wait until spring to repot. Try to get the stem seated vertically (not at a lean) when you do this. The more natural light, the better during the months ahead, even if the plant is dormant.
Name: Ginya
New York (Zone 7b)
Image
ginya703
Nov 25, 2020 9:47 AM CST
Baja_Costero said:The leaves tend to look pretty scrappy in the weeks before they fall for the season (which yours are about to do). I think you're just seeing the natural process of senescence at the end of the growing season. I wouldn't worry about it. Definitely cut way back on the water over the winter, but I don't think it's helpful to withhold water completely. Wait until spring to repot. Try to get the stem seated vertically (not at a lean) when you do this. The more natural light, the better during the months ahead, even if the plant is dormant.


Duly noted and thank you!

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