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Old 08-22-2007, 12:51 PM
 
1,408 posts, read 7,256,692 times
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My dh has always wanted a palm tree so for his birthday i bought him a windmill palm tree (we live in massachusetts). it looks like it's dying. It gets lots of sun (the picture was taken at night) and plenty of water. My dh put sand (from the beach) around the base of it (don't know if this is the reason it's dying). Is there something he's doing wrong or is it just you can't grow them in Massachusetts?
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windmill palm tree-charlie.jpg  

Last edited by surfingatwork; 08-22-2007 at 12:51 PM.. Reason: picture clarification
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Old 08-22-2007, 02:16 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...
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TreeHelp.com: Trees: Species: Palm Trees: Types: Windmill Palm
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Old 08-22-2007, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Metro Milwaukee, WI
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I have much experience with growing thriving - and killing - Windmill Palm trees...I lived for 4 years in Albuquerque, New Mexico which is a solid gardening zone 7 - not great for many palms (just a hare too cold...zones 8 and 9 are better) but pretty good for some palms, including the Windmill Palm.

While it is hard to make out in the picture, in my opinion...yes, it is very likely that that palm is dead...I am sorry. When the fronds start to shrivel up like that and the like, it is usually the death knell.

Here is the sure-fire way to tell. There is a middle spear on the palm...this is the area that the new growth (branches/fronds) comes out of. It is in the middle of the top of the palm's trunk. Give it some relatively gentle-but-firm tugs upwards (don't yank real hard like you want to pull the tree out of the ground, but you have to give some honest firm gentle tugs). If the spear ends up sliding on out (usually with a whitish, rotting-smelling base that was not visible when in the tree) then she is dead. I am guessing that this will happen to you by the looks of it.

However, if the thing absolutely refuses to come out, it likely is still alive. A big thing I learned with Windmill Palms - do NOT overwater...especially in a place like Mass., likely it is getting enough water naturally...make sure the roots have great drainage. Also, cold hardiness may be an issue. These trees, especially in a young stage, if unprotected, likely can survive temps only briefly below 20 degrees or so.

What is the gardening zone where you are in Mass? Has it been in the ground over a winter? Ideally, in a colder clime like Mass's, it should be planted along a south-facing wall - in as much sunshine as possible - with good drainage (and no watering in the winter).
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Old 08-22-2007, 02:39 PM
 
1,408 posts, read 7,256,692 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EnjoyEP View Post
I have much experience with growing thriving - and killing - Windmill Palm trees...I lived for 4 years in Albuquerque, New Mexico which is a solid gardening zone 7 - not great for many palms (just a hare too cold...zones 8 and 9 are better) but pretty good for some palms, including the Windmill Palm.

While it is hard to make out in the picture, in my opinion...yes, it is very likely that that palm is dead...I am sorry. When the fronds start to shrivel up like that and the like, it is usually the death knell.

Here is the sure-fire way to tell. There is a middle spear on the palm...this is the area that the new growth (branches/fronds) comes out of. It is in the middle of the top of the palm's trunk. Give it some relatively gentle-but-firm tugs upwards (don't yank real hard like you want to pull the tree out of the ground, but you have to give some honest firm gentle tugs). If the spear ends up sliding on out (usually with a whitish, rotting-smelling base that was not visible when in the tree) then she is dead. I am guessing that this will happen to you by the looks of it.

However, if the thing absolutely refuses to come out, it likely is still alive. A big thing I learned with Windmill Palms - do NOT overwater...especially in a place like Mass., likely it is getting enough water naturally...make sure the roots have great drainage. Also, cold hardiness may be an issue. These trees, especially in a young stage, if unprotected, likely can survive temps only briefly below 20 degrees or so.

What is the gardening zone where you are in Mass? Has it been in the ground over a winter? Ideally, in a colder clime like Mass's, it should be planted along a south-facing wall - in as much sunshine as possible - with good drainage (and no watering in the winter).
Oh I hope it's not dead. My dh will be heartbroken. He even named the darn thing (Charlie). He LOVES palm trees (we're hoping to move to NC soon). I'll try the tugging you suggested.

According to arborday's website massachusetts is a 6-7 zone. It's only been in the ground since May. I bought the palm from a nursery in GA and when it arrived the fronds were somewhat crushed from the packaging (I hope this didn't help "kill" it). Dh was upset the company didn't take better care in protecting his pride and joy during shipping but didn't want to return it either.

We did have some really, really heavy rain storms (lost a few LARGE 75ft trees during 2 of the storms) and I know he waters it on the weekends.
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Old 08-22-2007, 02:53 PM
 
Location: NE Florida
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sand from the beach
hmm did he wash the sand first before putting it around the palm ?
If not the excess salt in the sand could of caused a problem.
It also looks like it was planted a little to deep
remember the rocks around will help trap water and as EnjoyEP said too much water can kill them.
can you get another one secretly and put it in a pot ? that way you can bring it in in the winter . You could always say you repotted his original one
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Old 08-22-2007, 03:11 PM
 
1,408 posts, read 7,256,692 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karla with a K View Post
sand from the beach
hmm did he wash the sand first before putting it around the palm ?
If not the excess salt in the sand could of caused a problem.
It also looks like it was planted a little to deep
remember the rocks around will help trap water and as EnjoyEP said too much water can kill them.
can you get another one secretly and put it in a pot ? that way you can bring it in in the winter . You could always say you repotted his original one

yup sand from the beach. he came home with a big bucket of it one day (of course it's illegal to sand from the beach but that didn't stop him). sigh..... it sounds like this poor little windmill palm was doomed from the start and the darn thing cost me $60.00. i love your suggestion though.
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:52 AM
 
Location: NE Florida
17,835 posts, read 29,410,367 times
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$60 ouch surfing I can understand that.
You can tease him about the "karma" of the "stolen" sand lol

Some palms are hard to grow. I think I am the only one in Fla that can't grow Sago palms
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Old 08-23-2007, 06:44 AM
 
1,408 posts, read 7,256,692 times
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Well sadly dh's little windmill palm did not make it. He checked this morning by pulling on the middle frond (thank you enjoyep) and it was dead. Thank you all for your help. As for the ummm.... borrowed sand, dh did say he got it at the top of the beach near the parking lot not at the water but he also told me that he was watering the poor little guy almost daily thinking that would help.
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Old 08-26-2007, 06:04 AM
 
Location: Tolland County- Northeastern CT
4,459 posts, read 6,093,600 times
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I grow windmill palms over in Connecticut. Windmill palms while juvenile should be planted in a semi sun situation, in good soil- some sand, loam and clay- and given lots of water- your plant seems stressed-

In the winter these plants need to be mulched heavily- and covered in some kind of protective plastic (its very important to keep the crown dry)

These palms are very tough, and tolerant of extreme cold- but this far north they need protection in the winter.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:04 AM
 
11,287 posts, read 16,811,646 times
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Skytrekker is correct. Perhaps give it another go? Get some seeds and start one inside and plant it outside next spring. I managed to get one up from seed although it remains in a pot. I planted three outside around 5 or 6 years ago and they are flourishing. However, the valley that is Washington, DC is a bit more milder than where you are.

And make sure you protect it during those brutal Mass winters.
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