Dying Washingtonia Robusta

MIssion Valley, TX(Zone 9a)

The attached is a pic , originally posted in the wrong forum, growing in 9A in a row
of 16 next to my driveway. All the others are perfect, and this one was
one of my best. They are all 5 years old, 2 in the ground. In one day the
whole thing browned and slumped. It was after the first rain in 6 months.

I can find no mold or rot, bugs or disease. Just radical rapid browning.
All the others are green. Even the crown is beginning to brown. It had been
fertilized with palm tree spikes the same as the other trees...being a smaller
tree I cut spikes (maybe root burn?). I sprayed the crown with anti-fungal
agent, flushed the roots, and fertilized with manganese and some time-release
balanced granules. I have never seen anything go down so fast. I have
queens, pindos, and canaries thriving.

The non-palm-forum suggested some things. Any guesses?:
We had a long drought and live 40 clicks from the ocean so it could be salts.
In Texas it also could be toxins, since it is 3 feet from the neighbors' cattle pasture.
They spray the fence line with vegetation killer 3x/yr. and maybe some of this
washed into the roots, but it doesn't seem like it would kill a whole tree.
All the other trees are on the fence line and fine.

Would anyone prune the dead stuff off right away?

Thumbnail by Chiefengineer
Oak Hill, FL(Zone 9b)

I would bank on it being the fertilizer spikes, a little weed kiiller isn't going to hurt a washie, now if it didn't get any water for six or seven months combined with something else, perhaps, this is one of the hardest palms to kill, Ed

Acton, CA(Zone 8b)

I am pretty sure that's not dying anymore... best to get a replacement. Dehydration would be a top of my list of cause of death

MIssion Valley, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the responses.
First I will dig up all the spikes. The crown is still green but browning, and some of the tops of the limbs are.
Then I will flush it again.
I will then replace it if it all goes brown!

I watered them all during the drought, and the rest are green.

Oceanside, CA(Zone 10b)

wow. I thought you couldn't kill washies...
They grow like weeds in my yard. The wind must carry the seeds.
I have to pull them every year.

This message was edited Mar 25, 2009 3:27 PM

MIssion Valley, TX(Zone 9a)

Anger and disgust follow.
The tree is planted in a swale of rolling earth next to a fence where there is a cattle pasture. Upon excavating to pull whatever fertilizer spike might be burning the roots I never found any. I dug about a 12 inch holed around the trunk about 8 inches deep and put a hose in it full strength. I thought something funny when it hadn't overflowed in a full half hour. I pulled the hose out and it drained in 5 minutes. I found a gopher tunnel directly through the center of the palm underneath where the roots begin. All that was left were side roots which anchor the tree nicely. I have had gopher problems with a tunnel near a large queen palm I had that I kept replacing until I cemented up the tunnel. Some of these gophers cannot be trapped or poisoned...others are easy. So I put out traps, a few scoops of dry redi-mix, and a prayer. The gophers must have gotten really active just before the first rain in ages and one did this...no sign of mounds anywhere near...just bad luck. It seems without a tap root this one is either toast or about to be set way back for a long time. FYI.

Oceanside, CA(Zone 10b)

two words: Yard Butler
check it out, YB ended my gopher problem, maybe it will help yours...


Cypress, CA(Zone 10a)

Yep Yard Butler is the way to go......solved my problem also.......

MIssion Valley, TX(Zone 9a)

I will buy one of these.
Of course there was no sign of a tunnel or a mound with this one
apparently due to the terrain.
BTW, the tree shows signs of coming back a little with all the
cement I threw down there.

MIssion Valley, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks everyone.
I bought a Yard Butler but haven't had time to use it yet.
The good news is that this tree is coming back (see pic).
Obviously I cut all the dead stuff off.
It's got a crown and two other growing leaves that are developing nicely.

Unfortunately I've got another dying one I'm going to post in a different thread.

Thumbnail by Chiefengineer
MIssion Valley, TX(Zone 9a)

This tree that was coming back so nicely decided to fade fast again,
so I dug it up. To my great shock I got about 35 fire ant bites, even
inside my gloves. There was a nest in the roots you wouldn't believe...
the big brown ones, the winged ones, etc. They made a mess of me
before I noticed them.

I cleaned out the hole and put mound destroyer down there, then planted
a replacement with new soil.

Could fire ants have hurt this palm...it started going brown all at once?
I have it flushed and potted in sterile potting soil hoping for another comeback.

Oak Hill, FL(Zone 9b)

I let the tiny red fire ants build mounds in my pots, and all it does is aerate the soil, happens every year, I'll bet those were carpenter ants, Ed

MIssion Valley, TX(Zone 9a)

If those were carpenter ants that bit the breakfast out of me
I've got a whole new problem. Hope fire ant killer does them right
because I dumped some Over and Out on them today.
I'm silly to put something good in a bad hole, but a gap in a line of
16 trees in kind of obvious.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

I have several sagos in concrete planters here in central SC. In early May, I noticed that one sago wasn't growing new fronds. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was infested with fire ants. I treated it immediately, but in July I realized it was dead-the fronds easily came out with a gentle tug. If something as tough as as a sago can die from fire ant infestation, I can understand why your palm died.

Oak Hill, FL(Zone 9b)

The high PH in the concrete planters, is what killed your Sagos, not the fire ants, Ed

MIssion Valley, TX(Zone 9a)

My palm is alive in a pot. So is the other one that was dying.
These are very large plastic pots with really good soil that are
automatically misted every day in partial shade...kind of like
my rehab zone. They both have strong crowns now and the
same mature trunks. I am waiting to put them back in the ground.

The palm I planted in the bad spot was a transplant. Before replanting
I put about every available insect poison in Texas down that hole (and
that's quite a few).

Then I discovered mulching the around the tree with pine needles
helped keep the moisture in with this drought here, and I flush
it every few days. Another gopher moved two feet down from it
and I trapped him, then another showed up and I "Yard-butlered" him.
That tree looks good now too.

We think some new kind of fire-ant has moved in...we are relatively
far south in Texas. A guest got bit swimming in the middle of our big
pool the other day and got a hardened raised lump like a marble-shooter
that hasn't gone away. They said it was a scary looking big brown
fire-ant swimming along that got them by surprise.

We might have something else around here, because the ones
I saw in that hole were brown and liked water.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

I have twelve sagos in concrete urns, Ed, and the only one that died was the was also the only one that I neglected to treat for fire ants. All of the others are growing beautifully, and seem very happy with their ph level. Thanks anyway,Ed.

Miramar Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

Good luck with it. I bought one several years ago and moved it around the yard several times, causing it to turn completely brown each time. It's location is finally perfect and it's green and putting out fronds beautifully.
We live about 1/10 of a mile to the Gulf of Mexico and our palms are the best - they take the wind and look beautiful after every storm/hurricane.
Miramar Beach is between Pensacola and Panama City Beach.

MIssion Valley, TX(Zone 9a)

I've driven that stretch a few times.
Loved it. The coast get robbed of its sunshine.
Can't tell you how I wait for those days of calm clouds here.
It just keeps blowing...pouring oil in my truck ends up on
the fender every time.

Miramar Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

Yeah, it's beautiful here. The wind blows most all the time so in my yard I have some copper whirly gigs that I love to watch. A guy comes to the Pensacola Arts Festival that sells them - this year it'll be Nov 6 - 8 at Seville Square in the historical district downtown. Pretty, huge and it's free!

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