Palm trees are a widely use landscaping plant both for indoor and outdoor landscapes. They are generally easy to care for and thrive with sunlight, warm temperatures and good soil. Most species of palm perform very well in southern Louisiana. When their leaves turn yellow to brown have many people at at a loss as to what to do.
There May Be a Problem With Your Palm's Diet
Palm Leaves Have Yellow Spotting
If your palm has yellow spots appearing on an otherwise healthy tree, it needs some potassium. Apply a slow release fertilizer with a good amount of Potassium. Potassium in the middle number in the fertilizer breakdown on the front of your fertilizer package.
Palm Leaves Have Yellow Stripes
If there are yellow stripes on the lowest and oldest leaves then your palm has a magnesium deficiency. Use fertilizer with added magnesium and some extra dolomite on the soil around the tree to turn the tree's health around. Magnesium will be listed as Mg on most packaging.
Older Palm Leaves Turning Yellow
When older leaves begin yellowing, there is a lack of Nitrogen in the soil around your palm tree. The tree is literally canabalizing its older leaves for the nitrogen in them to support new growth. A bag of fertilizer labeled for palm trees from any nearby hardware store should have the tree looking great in no time.
Your Palm Tree May Have a Bug or Fungus Problem
This probably means you are dealing with either a fungus or an insect.
Fungus will usually appear to be blotchy or spots of yellow on the leaves. An example of palm tree fungus would be fusarium wilt or bud rot. There may also be a powdery substance on the leaves. Insects will usually be accompanied by black soot on the plant, holes or tears in the leaves and damage to the trunk. An example of insects damaging to palms would be giant palm borers or thrips.
There Isn't Any Signs of Pests and the Soil is Fertilized
The palm has proper nutrition, but the leaves are still turning brown. This is natural. as long as the transformation is fairly even. The leaves will eventually turn brown as part of the tree's life cycle. There is no need for them to turn prematurely though. Keep your palms fertilized and they will stay looking good for a much longer duration.
Pruning Palm Trees
In best practice, you should not prune the leaves off the palm until they are completely brown. Doing so removes some of the nitrogen and other nutrition stored in the plant. That being said, a lot of people do not want leaves on their palms to be any color but green. If you are one of these people, you can prune the lower yellowing leaves off as long as your have the soil properly fertilized. If the leaves at the top of the palm are yellowing, you have one of the problems mentioned above. If you begin seeing other leaves yellow soon after pruning, your soil may not have had the correct amount of fertilizer.
When pruning your palm, be sure to follow the same pattern of cut as all of the other branches have been cut so the trunk of the tree is uniform. Usually all you will need is protective glasses, a hat, gloves, a pair of loppers, a ladder and someone to hold it for you. If it is your first time pruning a palm, remember to take your time, be careful and it will probably take you a lot longer per tree to prune than you originally thought, especially if its been a few seasons since you pruned last.
What Flowers to Plant for Fall and Winter?
I get this question this time of year, every year, since I've been in the landscaping industry. Most people do not seem to think there are many choices for what they can use to liven up their home for the winter months. As you can see below, that assumption is a far cry from reality. The plants listed below should perform well in Southern Louisiana from late fall through early spring. These flowers are a great way to transform your home's exterior into an warm and inviting place for family and friends during the upcoming holidays.
Cool Season Flowers
Low growing flowers, about six inches tallPetunia, Pansy, Cabbage, Cyclamen, Kale, Alyssum, Dwarf Snapdragon, Phlox, Primrose
Medium Height Flowers, about one foot
Snapdragon, Dianthus, California Poppy, Bluebonnet, Dusty Miller, Candytuft, Dwarf Nicotiana
Tall varieties of Snapdragon, Sage, Delphinium, Sweet Peas, Larkspur, Hollyhock, Statice, Toadflax
Prune and Mulch
It is time for the final pruning of the year when your plants stop growing. This will not only keep the exterior of your home looking great for the next few months, it also keeps your home from getting mildew and fungus on it. By keeping a one to two foot gap between your home and your shrubs, you will help ensure proper airflow and keep the mildew and mold away. It is a great time to trim dead tree branches. You will allow more sunlight to warm your home and you remove the danger of those branches falling due to winter storms.
Mulching after your final pruning will keep your landscape looking fresh for the winter and will conceal any leaves you "forgot" to pick up. It will also prevent splashing from rain hitting the soil which can cause diseases in plants.
Clean Out Those Gutters
Lets be honest, most of us still have leaves in our gutters from last fall. The decomposing leaves in your gutters are home to insects, mold and mildew. They also hold water directly against your house causing wood rot and corrosion. Lets not forget that all the leaves stop the gutters from doing what they were installed to do in the first place.
To remove the leaves from your gutters, you can get a sturdy ladder and a plastic scoop fashioned from an empty jug with a handle. If you have some non-slip boots and a roof that isn't very steep, you can use a leaf blower.
Pressure Wash Your Home
Cleaning your home with a pressure washer will not only have your home looking great for the winter, but also expose openings and chipping paint. Additionally, by removing the excess dirt and grime you will remove the places for algae and water to sit.
After pressure washing your home, you may have areas with cracked, chipped or peeled paint. It is a great time to scrape and sand those areas down and use some touch up paint to shore your home up for winter. Those areas are places where moisture will penetrate the wood and cause rot which will be a much more expensive and time consuming repair.
Wrap your pipes with an insulated wrap. Use insulated covering over all of your outdoor water outlet. This is one of the easiest things to do and can save you the biggest headache, as anyone who has had a cracked water pipe will tell you. If you have a raised house, be sure your exposed pipes under your house are also wrapped. Check your air conditioning ducts for tears or cracks also. Every year there seems to be a rush on these insulated coverings the first week freezing temperatures are expected, so beat the rush.
Seal cracks and gaps
This is the big one. Really searching for and fixing these will save you a ton on your heating bill this winter. Be sure to check anywhere there is an opening in your home: doors, windows, attic pull down doors, garage doors, recessed lighting, and anywhere pipe first enters or exits your house. Weather stripping the bottom of your doors is a great place to start as a worn weather strip is a large area for heat to your home's interior. There is a fabric tent for your attic door that adds additional insulation to keep your home a steady temperature without having to run the heater unnecessarily.
Insulate Your Attic
Check your attic's insulation. If you can see your rafters, you don't have enough insulation. Also, loose fill insulation, like the one shown, lose their insulating ability over time as they settle. If you haven't added insulation in your attic in a while, now is a great time to look into it. More information on insulating and weather proofing can be found on the Department of Energy's website.