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I Have A 5 Foot Windmill Palm I Ordered Online;…

Steve Asked

I have a 5 foot windmill palm I ordered online; it has been struggling since I got it back in mid-summer. It has not grown an inch. I brought it in for the winter and the last two fronds are browing at the tips and progressing. The soil does not dry out, even during the summer I didn’t need to water it a lot. I thought about trying some fish emulsion fertilizer but have read you are not supposed to fertilize during the dormant period: is this true?

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Steve in Michigan: I am sorry to say that it does not sound good for your windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei). You mentioned that the soil was consistently wet and I suspect this is the reason or part of the reason for its decline. These palms are not too picky in terms of soil make-up or pH but they do require well-drained soil. Does the container have drain holes? And if it does make sure that they are not clogged up. These palms are susceptible to root rot, so excessive moisture can be detrimental. Windmill palms are prone to scale and aphids, both of which in high numbers can cause severe stress. All plants are more likely to become infected with insects if they are not given adequate growing conditions. The windmill palm can grow in shade or sun depending on the moisture level, and if yours was given more shade than sun this could also be part of the problem. Since the palm only has a couple of fronds left it may be too far gone to try to save, but if you want to give it a chance you need to determine why the soil is so wet and inspect the foliage for insects. It is true that plants do not require as much food during the winter months because the light levels are much lower and they are not actively growing. If you want to fertilize with fish emulsion, give it a half-dose strength. Indoors the palm will appreciate as much light as possible.

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