spacekadet
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Is this palm tree worth saving?

Hi all. I need some advice about this palm tree. Let it be known: this tree was a rescue from the garbage bin (someone in my apartment building did not have the love for this gentle plant). So I took it in and it's been fine for the most part, until...

It started developing spots on its leaves and stem. I know it's normal for a palm to lose its bottom leaves as new one grows in, but this doesn't look good:


[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2709/4163396516_67aa6ce43c_m.jpg[/img]

You can see a larger pic here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacekadet/4163396516/

I'm pretty sure it needs a bigger pot (some roots are starting to poke out the top of the soil!). But before I go repotting it, can someone tell me if this palm is even worth saving? Or does it already have some sad disease and should be put out of its misery?

Thanks in advance for your advice,

Monica

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Kisal
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Welcome to the Helpful Gardener, spacekadet! :)

I have a suspicion that the plant in the picture is not a palm. Would it be possible for you to post a picture of the entire plant? To me, it looks more like it might be a member of the Dracaena genus, but I can't be sure without seeing the entire plant. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

spacekadet
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Thank you so much for the warm welcome! I hope this is the beginning of many posts from me - I just moved into a new place with enough space for a garden. So looking forward to spring...

But first, this sad palm.

Here are a few more pictures. I put them all in a photoset here where you can see close-ups:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacekadet/sets/72157622947446664/

[img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2488/4163521580_68684ef962_m.jpg[/img][img]https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2503/4162751043_aac0033a1b_m.jpg[/img]

Thanks again... I look forward to hearing your thoughts. =)
Monica

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Kisal
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Hmmm. It's difficult to be absolutely sure, just from photos. I'm inclined to think it is Dracaena fragrans, but it might be Yucca elephantipes 'Yucca tip', also known as Soft-tip yucca.

According to what I've read, the Dracaena has smooth, shiny leaves with smooth edges. The Yucca has slightly roughened leaves with very tiny serrations (teeth) on the edges. Does that help you at all?

At any rate, I can tell you for certain that the plant isn't a palm. :)

The care of both plants is very similar: bright, indirect light; water when the soil dries down to about 1/2 inch. (Allow the soil to dry more if the plant is getting less light, as too much water will cause rot.) Don't allow the plant to stand in water that collects in the saucer/drainage tray. You can just leave it as it is and give it better care. It should perk up in time. As it begins to put out new growth, you can remove the old, damaged leaves. :)

You can totally renew the plant by cutting the cane down a bit. The old plant will sprout a new top for you. If you remove about 3 inches of the thick part of the cane and plant it in soil -- be sure you put the end that was closest to the roots into the soil -- it will grow roots and a new top, creating a whole new plant. You can just throw the old top away, if you like, or if you want to keep it, just pot it up and it will root. As it grows, you can remove the old, damaged leaves. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

spacekadet
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My mom also suggested it's a Yucca and that I cut the stem (good ol' mom!). I am definitely going to do this!

What exactly do you mean by "be sure you put the end that was closest to the roots into the soil". So I'll cut off the top of the thick stem, from the leaves to about 3 inches below the top of the thick stem, and then put the stem itself into the soil? What about all the old roots? Should this original stem and roots just go into a bigger pot?

Thanks again. I'm excited that the plant can be saved. =)

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Kisal
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The old roots and the stem that's attached to them will sprout a new leafy top.

For the section of cane that you cut off to plant in a new pot of soil, make note of which end was "up" or the "top", i.e. closest to the old leaves, and which end was "down" or the "bottom", i.e. closest to the old roots. Basically, both ends will look the same after you've cut it, and you don't want to plant it upside down from the way it was originally growing. I used to make a mark on the side of the cane with a felt tip pen to mark the "bottom". Of course, if you leave the leaves on the part you plant, you don't have to worry about which end goes up. :)

Your mom sounds like a neat lady! :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

spacekadet
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Oh I see! So I get rid of the old roots completely. Okay, I'm really excited to see this plant renew!

I'll tell my mom you said she was "neat" - maybe she'll sign up for the forum, too. She's quite an intrepid gardener herself! Her heirloom tomatoes were amazing this year.

Thanks again for your thorough and quick advice. =)
Monica

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Kisal
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No! That's not what I meant! :lol:

Leave the old roots, with part of the stem attached, in the pot where they are now. It will sprout a whole new top.

Take the part you cut off and plant it in another pot. It will sprout new roots.

If you plant just a section of the cane, it will grow new roots and a new top.

You have the potential to grow 3 new plants. One from the old roots with part of the cane left attached. One from the old top, which will grow new roots. And if you have just a section of cane with no roots or leaves, it will grow them and create yet another plant.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

spacekadet
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Ok, duh - very clear now. Sorry, early morning brain isn't quite as sharp as it should be! Three new plants - wow. Potential indeed!

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