Houseplants forum: Kentia Palm troubles! Please help!

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Watergirl
Nov 17, 2015 10:05 PM CST
I am responsible for the plant maintenance account of a four star hotel. The indoor pool room had two rather sorry looking palm trees when I started... I have a very green thumb and couldn't get them to look good. So the owner of the plant business ordered two new Kentia Palm trees. They looked ok for the first week, but seemed to have white scaly texture on frond bases... I watered them after one week and they looked ok. I came back to water them the second week and about half of the fronds were brown and crunchy. They had black speckles on stems and white flaky appearance had worsened. It was so sudden! The supplier blamed me for not watering properly and gave no credit for plants.
The plants are surrounded by south facing Windows and are also next to an exit door to the patio. We just had our first very cold weather so we concluded that between poor beginning health and cold air they were damaged.
We ordered new larger Kentia palms to replace them. They looked much healthier. I went in to check on them every day the first week and they looked great. We were having warmer temperatures.
I watered them after one week and mossed the pots for aesthetics. I checked them a couple days later... Still good. Then on day 7 I came in to find several browning fronds. The soil had dried out quite a lot compared to what I expected from just one week so I gave them a nice drink till a little water came out the bottom. I clipped off bad fronds and misted plants. The one by the door seemed to be worse and we had been having colder temperatures at night again. Also the door side is on southwest facing of building.
Today I returned to find several more fronds turning yellow and brown.
My boss is super upset and I'm struggling to figure out what to do!
Is it the chlorine from the pool and hot tub? Is it the direct afternoon sunlight? Is it the door that the overnight pool maintenance might be opening when cleaning the pool?
I have never struggled so much with plants in 30 years of caring for them and I've never been responsible for plants that cost over $200 each either!!!!
Please help!!!!!!!!!!

Plantomaniac08
Nov 17, 2015 10:27 PM CST
Sadly, Kentia palms are not known for being an easy palm.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Nov 19, 2015 11:20 AM CST
I wonder if the Palms you received were truly the Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana) which I doubt would do well as indoor plants.

Palms usually seen growing in hotel lobbies, shopping malls etc. are the Lady Palm (Rhapis species) http://garden.org/plants/search/text.php?q=Lady+Palm&button=

More photos and information here:
http://www.palmpedia.net/wiki/Rhapis_excelsa
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhapis_excelsa
http://www.plantsrescue.com/rhapis-excelsa/
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Nov 19, 2015 11:25 AM CST
*Blush* Where are my manners, I forgot to say Welcome! to the site!
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
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tarev
Nov 19, 2015 11:55 AM CST
My understanding with newly planted plants whether palms or otherwise they would need more stepped up watering at least for the first season of its growth as it acclimates in its new surroundings, especially if grown as container plants. I would have also considered the timing of buying them, would have done it in late Spring than in Fall, so the palm would have been more established by the time colder weather sets in, even if they are being grown indoors. Light levels are changing with the seasonal transition now and bursts of cold draft will truly harm new plants. South facing windows are perfect actually at this time, tropical plants love all the warmth and sun they can get.

But you did point out it has some insect issues. It could be adding to its troubles, pathogens are entering faster.

Chinese Wind Palm or a Dwarf Palmetto, I think would have been a better choice. I do not know if your establishment would be willing to change the type of Palm to grow there, knowing a lot of money has been used up already. That would be my suggestion though if you really want to have a tropical look there. Replace the soil, and get a more cold hardy palm.



[Last edited by tarev - Nov 19, 2015 11:55 AM (+)]
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Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Cinta
Nov 22, 2015 6:18 PM CST
I think you answered your question in your original post. Pool water, cold drafts, etc. You left out humans. You said HOTEL. I traveled a lot for business. You would be amazed what humans will dump in a pot as they leave the pool including the fact that they are slinging pool water into the pot as they leave.

I have no idea why your boss is even spending big money for that type of plant in a pool room. With heavy dose of chlorine fumes, and what ever humans splash and dump in the pot you have no control. In my opinion your boss is throwing good money out for bad results and will not win that game with a palm.

I am trying to remember what plants were most planted and my memory keeps saying .Schefflera, and Dracaena. I do remember one 5 star Hotel even had some silk and plastic plants. I thought that was really being cheap when they were charging up to $400 a night to stay at their hotel.

I did not go to the pool room because I mostly hung out at the the beach because we were mostly staying at beach hotels. I would see a lot of kids in the pool room. That had to be a disaster for plants.
Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Cinta
Nov 22, 2015 6:27 PM CST
I found this. Print it off and give it to your boss maybe he can order something that will work. They have some suggested palms. But still you will not be able to take the human element out of what else is dumped in the pots.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/chlorine-tolerant-plants-32967....

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