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Queen Palm Care


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Queen Palm Care

Queen palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) have been used for many years in the Phoenix metro area for quick shade, screening and the lush tropical accent they add to any landscape.  They grace gardens across the valley, from older historic districts and resorts, to new homes being built all around the city.   Although Queen palms are used in a variety of landscape designs, they tend to be happier in partial or full tropical landscapes as this usually assures that they will receive the amount of water and fertilize they require for optimum health.

Queen palms are native to the South American woodlands of Brazil and Argentina; they are regarded as a tropical palm rather than a desert palm, (i.e. Mexican and California fan palms.)  Together with Pygmy Date, Cuban Royal, Triangle and other palms from more tropical areas, queens require regular feeding with palm food to insure maximum health and beauty.  A well-formulated palm fertilizer should contain all the minerals important to the health of tropical palms. This includes adequate amounts of nitrogen, magnesium, sulfur, iron, copper and especially manganese.

There has never been a documented case of bud rot in Queen Palms!

Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Report on Bud Rot   

After several years in the landscape Queen palms are susceptible to a manganese deficiency problem known as “frizzle top.”  This condition is recognized by the “frizzled” look of new leaves as they emerge from the crown, or heart, of the palm.  The affected leaves appear stunted and blackened.  If this condition is left untreated the palm tree continues to weaken and will eventually die.  The common believe that a heart rot fungus (Phytophora) affects Queens  is false. A study by the Arizona Department of Agriculture determined that in 10,000 cases of "frizzle top" a fungus was present in only 2.  By feeding your Queen palms regularly you can avoid this problem. 

Frizzletop1.jpg (102272 bytes)  New frond with "Frizzle top" symptoms

Click to enlarge

 If it occurs increase the amount of manganese by using fertilizer spikes or manganese sulfate. Use the powdered form in the ground around the trunk and, if possible, as a slurry in the crown of the palm.  

One of the best ways to insure your palms have sufficient minerals is to feed with Lutz palm tree fertilizer spikes 2 to 3 times per year.  Palm spikes are formulated for a slow application of nutrients over a period of several months and should be placed around the palm tree 18 to 24 inches from the trunk, 2 to 4 inches below soil level.  Lutz maintenance spikes are used for regular feeding but may be combined with Lutz manganese spikes to treat a “frizzle top” condition.   A quicker response is obtained using a granular palm food such as “Plant Magic palm food”.  Granular foods should be applied every 3 months in 4 to 6 inch holes placed about 18 to 24 inches from the trunk of the palm.  As with palm spikes, the irrigation emitters should be placed away from the trunk so that they are approximately over the fertilizer that was applied.

Along with proper feeding, correct watering is critical for healthy Queen palms (and other tropical palms!)  As a rule of thumb, newly planted palms should be watered about 3 times a week for the first summer, and a minimum of twice a week in winter.  Sufficient water to moisten the entire root ball, and 6” into the surrounding soil, is the correct amount to use each watering period.

Queen palms that have been planted for 3 to 5 years or more may sometimes not respond to these treatments if the surrounding soil ph has become excessively high.  The heavy clay soils in Maricopa County are typically alkaline but may become excessively so when lime leaches from surrounding concrete, such as walkways, house foundations and walls. Periodic applications of acid to the surrounding soil will lower the ph and allow the palm’s roots to chemically bind with nutrients allowing them to feed the palm.  A commercial soil acidifier may be used or a solution of 1 cup muriatic acid (pool acid) in 5 gallons of water.   Depending on the palm’s size the recommended application rate is 2 to 4 five gallon buckets of solution to treat the entire root ball area.  A substantial watering 24 hours before will insure against burning and prepare the palm for treatment.

By following these guidelines your Queen palms will stay healthy and continue to grace your yard for many more years.

queen palm health phoenix Arizona Queen palm health phoenix Arizona

Queen palm health phoenix Arizona Queen palm health phoenix Arizona

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                    Last modified: September 13, 2006