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What's likely wrong with the stems of this palm?

2 years ago

Hi there,

So, I've been trying to identify this possibly parlor/cat palm and I thought the growth behavior at the base of it's stems was distinctive. I now think it's just pathological, and I'm wondering a) what's wrong with it that caused it to grow this way and b) is there anything I can do to correct it.

The base of the stems look like this:

Each stem has a full bunch of green fronds, but lolls in the the pot because their anchor is just one thin green stem. They are growing out from this center but not up. Is this distinctive of a particular type of palm or is this pathology? Should I tease these all apart and repot?

The whole plant looks like this

And YES I know it has spider mites and YES I know it would be better to compost it but let's just say for argument's sake I want to see what I can do to save it first (where there's green there's hope, right?) for the learning experience.

I'd appreciate any advice about this plant.


Comments (5)

  • 2 years ago

    presuming your ID is correct .... and using such to get the latin name ... i did this:

    watch a few.. and see if you can come up with some ideas of what to do.; and how to do it ...

    i find that using the latin names... gets better references i dont really trust a site that relies solely on common names .... and besides.. who has a parlor anymore anyway ....


    ps: on the ALL side ... one of the first links explained a single trunk plant is the parlor version.. and the clumping plant is the cat version ... go figure on that.. if its correct .... actually its the second link here.. when i was finding the latin name.. that explains such:

    junglelibrarian thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • 2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    That is a Chamaedorea elegans, not the Cat palm (C. cataractarum).

    How often are you watering it? Use an insecticidal soap for the spider mites. You can save this plant.

    P.S.,, Cat palms are naturally suckering but Parlor palms (C. elgans are largely sold in clusters of multiply planted individual seedlings).

  • 2 years ago

    Thanks ken_adrian and Margaritaville!

    Yes, I too usually go by Latin names for best search results, but even that didn't produce any "expert" I sites that I could find. The hitch is the care for C. elegans vs. C. cataractarum is just different enough I thought a specific identification was necessary. I've read that if it has spider mites it's almost always C. elegans (which seems dubious), that if it's not growing in a clump of upright stalks in the center it must be C cataractarum, etc.

    What I haven't found is any photo of anyone else with these lolling stalks, for which I have no explanation. I am wondering if I should repo the whole thing and cover up those exposed roots at the top or if that's likely to induce rot.

    Except for the spider mite damage the fronds have been robust and green - no yellowing and dropping of fronds and it has flowered and set fruit every year in the normal way. I'm embarrassed to say I didn't notice the damage until I went to water the plants with my glasses on...

    This is the only palm I've ever cared for and it's in a public library so the environment is stable and tends to the quite dry (going ahead I'll mist this plat in the winter, which it's never gotten) and typically it's gotten watered once a week all year long. I'm trying to correct some bad care we got from a volunteer (who, among other things brought the spider mites in on a hibscus that spent part of the the winter in the library) and trying to more individualize the care for the library's 24 different kinds of tropical plants.

    I brought this palm home so I could wash the spider mites off of it and also to leave it outside in the humidity for a few weeks (in a deep shade - no sign of sunburn so far). Now I'm wondering whether to repot before returning it to the library or if that will be too much stress?

  • 2 years ago

    I would leave it alone. It would be very difficult to get all of the stems to stay in their current positions after this is disturbed. Palms don't seem to benefit from repotting as much as other plants, unless they are really squashed into a small pot, which does not look like the case here.

    junglelibrarian thanked Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
  • 2 years ago

    Your Neanthe bella palm looks wonderful to me. I have several.

    From your picture I noticed that there were roots above ground. Personally I would repot with new potting soil with perlite. I use organic alfalfa for green plants for fertilizer applied anytime.

    You can actually if you feel confident, separate these plants as they are different plants.

    Surgery is required as you lovingly untangle the roots from the different plants.

    The top growth is so huge that this is causing the stems to separate.

    If you want you could straighten them at this time covering the roots with soil.

    Maybe this is why the plant has red spider ( under stress).

    This is a fairly hardy plant.

    Pot in a clay pot, place in shade only. Water often while the plant is recovering.

    I leave mine out all year unless a freeze. Never had spider mites.

    Thinking it is due to roots showing.

    Wishing you well with your plant experiences making this plant happy again.

    junglelibrarian thanked carolstropicals