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Yellowing Phoenix palm

Seven years ago we built a new home on a 2 acre property in Motueka (Nelson) and have since transplanted 5 phoenix palms. The property was used for growing kiwifruit and is just sand. We have established our lawns, trees and most of our gardens which all seem to be doing well. Irrigation is in for all areas.

Our problem is that one of the phoenix palms is very yellow. All the palms are planted on the lawns and are irrigated with them during the drier periods of the year.

Is there something we should be feeding them or maybe something we are doing wrong?


Without knowing how long ago the palms were transplanted, I would say the yellowing is the after effects of transplanting the palm. You say you irrigate in the drier months; the palm will need regular deep watering to become established, especially if your soil is light and sandy.

If the fronds around the bottom are yellow, but the fronds in the crown are still green and upright, then the palm will be okay. If the fronds in the crown collapse, you are likely to lose the palm. Remove the yellow fronds from around the bottom.

Phoenix palms are shallow rooting, so until it is established you will need to keep the water up to it. Once it starts showing signs of improving, your palms will not require watering, and you can rely on nature.

Light sandy soils are free-draining, so you will need to water regularly and deeply at least twice a week. A person in our office has transplanted a phoenix palm — he used to leave the hose on it all night.

Mulching around the tree will help keep the soil moist. Use compost, lawn clippings, or any well rotted organic material such as animal manure, saw dust, pea or barley straw — this helps put nitrogen back into the soil as well as improving the soil structure. If you want to fertilise the palm, use sheep manure pellets or a controlled release fertiliser such as Magamp or Osmocote.

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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