My Transplanted Dwarf Date Palm Is Developing Pale Yellow Leaves

Filed Under: Palms and Cycads, Tropical Plants · Keywords: Dwarf, Date, Palm, Transplanted, Not, Looking, Good, Yellowing, Leaves, White Spots, Damaged Root Ball · 3820 Views
We acquired a nice dwarf date palm tree that needed to be dug out of the ground at its previous location, had been growing there quite a few years but was reasonably exposed, very dry soil. Unfortunately during the removal process (a bobcat was used), the root ball got caught and the tree took a little flight through the air (4-5 feet apparently). The new growth on the palm appeared undamaged at the time but the root ball was relatively small, one side of it larger than the other. Wet the roots well, wrapped them up and the leaves for the transport (so was well protected and didn't dry out), was planted at our end, nice well sized hole, good drainage etc. It was been in the ground for 4 days now and I think the new growth looks a little yellowed / pale. It doesn't appear to be physically damaged though there are small, whitish, almost frosty growth / markings along the inner smaller leaves, spreading to the outers. Have given it lots of water and an application of seasol after it was planted. The appearance of the leaves though doesn't look too healthy to me atm and would like some advice as to how to rescue / increase chances of survival.

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Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Kathryn-The Pygmy Date Palm can be difficult to transplant. Only about half of the date palms I have moved through the years have made it and those that did took a huge amount of time to recover. They looked really sad for almost two years before actually putting on new growth but they made it. First, they are not a plant that likes to be transplanted especially if two small a root ball is taken. Even a small palm need as large a root ball taken as possible. One that several people can probably lift with a lot of straining. That being said; only time will tell as to weather it will make it or not. It is important to keep the soil moist but not wet. Too wet a soil can cause disease and root rot before the palm has a chance to recover. Always water your palm from the bottom and not the top as with sprinklers. Too wet or moist conditions within the crown of the palm can also cause several fungal diseases. At this time any drooping or browing of the leaves will most likely be from transplant shock and as I said only time will tell.

The white cottony looking deposits of the leaves looks as though the palm may be infested with Mealybugs. Mealybugs cause damage by sucking juices from inside the leaves of many plants. The Mealybugs normally favor the more tender new growth on plams. If not controlled their damage causes the leaves to yellow and eventually turn brown, droop, and die. The white, soft-bodied pests are covered with a powdery substance that gives the impression of a cotton-like growth on the infested areas of the pygmy palm. I'm not sure of your location but Mealybugs are normally a more common pest of palms growing in warm, humid climates and can cause serious damage in cases of severe infestation. The waxy covering on the bodies of mealybugs and their eggs creates a high resistance to pesticides therefore systemic insecticides are use by many for their control. I'm not sure how well this would work in your case as the plants small root ball along with transplant shock may not absorb the insecticide needed to kill this pest when sucking on the plants juices. I would suggest using a horticultural oil such as Neem oil. Although the horticultural oil does not penetrate their waxy coating it covers the insects killing them by suffocation. You can also spot treat the areas of infestation with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. Dab the infested areas with soaked cotton ball and rub them away.

I believe at this time the best thing to do is keep the palm moist not wet. I would take an infested leaf to your better quality nursery, not a box store, for them to examine. There if they also feel it has an infestation of mealybugs they will help you with the purchase of a horticultural oil such as Neem oil.

I uploaded a few pictures of Mealybug infestation on Pygmy Date palm leaves for you to look at and compare these to what is on your leaves.

Please let me know what you find out and any changes in the condition of the palm.


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Answer #3 · Kathryn Carroll's Answer · Took some affected leaf to a nursery and they said most likely white scale? Have gotten some white oil to apply to the leaves. We have planted a Washington / cotton palm next to the date palm, should we give that a go with the white oil as well just in case? Am also worried about my sago now which is a couple of metres away. It had scale a few years ago and pretty much killed it, it only came back last year. Should I spray these to prevent or just leave them alone in case I spread it more? *edit, just gone out and had a look its on both :( sago doesn't appear to have any yet, but it's all over the cotton palm too.)

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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Kathryn-I'm glad you had the leaves inspected. Not being able to see the insect up close it was hard to see whether the scale had a cottony look or not. Mealybugs are only one of many different varieties of scale insects which can vary in appearance. The scale insects are difficult to control because most of them have the waxy covering which protects them from spraying. As I believe I noted the horticultual oils will suffocate and kill them. I would deffinitely spray any of your plants where the scale can be seen. Spraying others that aren't infested yet with the oil may not be needed, but of course keep a good eye on them also. Let me know the outcome of your transplanted palm and the others infested with scale.

9 years ago ·
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Answer #2 · Kathryn Carroll's Answer · Thank-you, great tips there, I had been watering the leaves but will do just the base from now on. Because the root ball is so small and damaged I thought it would help with more water. Will take a leaf to nursery this weekend and identify what it is, hopefully is fixable on top of everything else its been through this past few days.)

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