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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2011 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

EW23

garden

Spidermites, dry air, lack of sun may explain palm’s problems then brown and eventually fell off. How can I save this plant?

annemarrison Q: I water my palm lightly once a week and replaced one inch of soil from the top and added new soil. But for the past month the bottom leaves have been turning yellow,

Anne Kocherkewych, Vancouver A: I wonder what the name of your palm is. There are many kinds and whatever treatment you give your palm may not be suitable for every type of palm. Some palms need sunnier conditions than others. Sun-loving palms and many houseplants get most unhappy through our dark winters, but typically recover when spring arrives. Have you checked it over with a magnifying glass? If there are small webs, your palm could have spidermites. Spraying twice a day with

plain, cold water will control these if you’re persistent for several weeks. You can then taper off gradually, but should continue once a week routinely to keep the mite population from increasing. Generally, under watering gets you into less trouble with palms than over-watering. But if the soil is shrinking away from the sides of the pot, it’s possible the palm is too dry and water is flooding away down the inner sides and not moistening the root ball. You can combat this problem by soaking the pot and palm in a tub of water for a couple of hours. Many palms like high humidity.

It’s possible your home is too hot and dry for palms. You could try misting daily and/or standing the pot on a pebble tray (a water-filled tray with a layer of gravel or pebbles). Humidity rises around the plant as the water evaporates. The water needs to be topped up periodically and occasionally the stones should be washed. Another possibility is your palm needs more nutrition. Lack of nitrogen can cause leaves to yellow. In the growing season, a twice-monthly feed of balanced, liquid fertilizer should help.

Q: I have four orange trees. This year all of them have changed their

leaves from a nice, dark green to a light yellowish green. I guess there’s a deficiency. Iron? What can I do?

E. Seewald A: It does sound like an iron deficiency. You need a container of chelated iron from a garden centre. This should be watered onto the soil according to instructions on the label. It takes a while to be effective, but the problem does clear up with treatment. This problem is very common with pot-grown citrus trees. Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to amarrison@shaw.ca.

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Vancouver Courier - February 11, 2011  

Vancouver Courier - February 11, 2011 printed edition