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  • Bamboo Palm, has seen a lot of woes, now has more.

    Created by Ashley Eden on

    I inherited this plant from an old roommate, which she had saved from the trash at her work. This was maybe 4 years ago now. It was in a plastic potter, with a plastic bag over it, which was placed inside a wicker basket. It was on my todo list to add drainage but the plant was so heavy I kept putting it off. When I inherited it, it was sickly. I stopped watering it regularly and instead watered it about once every month. It actually started to do ok.

    Then, one day about half a year ago I started to water it more. And I stopped fertilizing it. This fall, It started to look weak, so I took a photo of it to a nursery where they said I probably have spider mites. I was incredulous but I checked with a microscope and yup I sure did. It wasn’t a bad infestation but they were there. I bought Spidex from Planet Natural and the mites disappeared. (Thanks Planet Natural!) At the same time I also sprayed it with neem oil and took out the plastic lining.

    It still wasn’t looking good, and I noticed that the soil was extremely damp. Even though now it had drainage, the water wasn’t draining out of the holes. So I took it out of the plastic potter entirely, lined the wicker basket with paper bags (the Internet said this was ok!) and potted it directly into the basket. This proved to be a bad idea. The wicker basket started to get wet and soil kept falling out of the holes.

    So 2 months ago I bought a smaller terra-cotta planter, repotted it again into that, placed the terra-cotta planter on tiny wooden spacers and placed that in the basket. I used new potting soil with some perlite, though when all was said and done it was probably only about 1/6 perlite. I cut off a bunch of bad leaves, and started giving it a little bit of fertilizer. Some new growths appeared and I set off for a 2 week vacation. When I came back, there were a bunch of crispy looking mostly dead leaves. It hadn’t been watered at all while I’d been gone but now with the better draining soil I guess it needed to?

    I cut off the dead leaves and a some more new growth started to appear but then stopped growing. (It is February but it’s also CA.) Anyway today I noticed that one of the few leaves left looks yellow again and spotty. This time there’s a brown spot on one of the fronds and that frond’s stem has some brown dots too. I pored over it with a microscope but didn’t find anything moving on it.

    What is wrong with it now? Should I give up on it?

    Here are some photos of my unhappy bamboo palm

    Some other info:
    Light is between 200-500 footcandles at the darkest part near the base, and the leaves that bow out get lots of light. It is in a corner but it’s a corner between 2 bay windows, one south facing and the other east facing. One week after watering, the soil was still moist in the center at the top, though the water meter near said it was a 3 out of 10 near the bottom of the pot, so it seems like drainage is ok now.

  • Author
  • #224729

    Eric Vinje

    Hello Ashley!

    It sounds like you were on the right track by transplanting into better draining soil. That can quickly cause root rot which would greatly impact your plant. By the looks of your palm and the information you gave us, I would say that a good slow release all purpose fertilizer such as Doctor Earth All Purpose would help to perk up it up. Be sure to only do this during its growing season. Another suggestion would be to prune back the stalks that have dried so the palm can focus on growing new, healthy growth rather than putting its energy to support the old, damaged parts. Always take care in removing any old, dried leaves like the ones you described for that same reason as well. If the brown spots continue to pop up and worsen to the point where it resembles leaf spot, cut away all affected areas with sterilized equipment and treat before it has time to germinate with products such as Safer Garden Fungicide located on our online website. Good luck with it and I hope it starts shaping up soon!

    Check out our Dr. Earth All Purpose Fertilizer and Safer® Garden Fungicide here:


    Also, take a look at our page on Leaf Spot if you would like more information and what signs to look for. https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/plant-disease/bacterial-leaf-spot/

    Good luck!

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