Cat Palm Dying

Hi Judy I purchased a Cat Palm tree over a month ago and it’s been giving me the sheer flukes dealing with its pritzy, arrogant behaviors. I’ll tell you this tree has a mind of it’s own. She’s like a little delicate princess with all the spoiled behaviors. When I first brought it, it was green and thriving in an small pot with the roots emerging from the bottom, so I repotted with a much larger pot after a couple of weeks.,I made potting soil mix with a 8 inch layer of rocks at the bottom of the pot because it had no drainage holes. Then I mixed in a bag of sand with 2 bags of soil and 1 bag of peat moss. I found this mixture also on a Cat Palm tree web site.
Then the first problem I had with it she developed a case of spider mitesSpider Mites, members of the Acari family, are small insects about 1mm in size. The most common indoor plant mite is the red spider mite (also called the two-spotted spider mite.). These pests lay their eggs on the under surface of leaves and produce fine webbing especially where the leaves are attached to the stem. Spider mites are hard to see with the naked eye, and may appear only as small red dots. They are more often recognized by the gritty feel of the leaf when you run your finger down it’s length, or by the appearance of discolored leaves due to the sucking action of the mites. The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep your plants clean and dust free. Treat spider mites by spraying every ten days for a month with a product such as Safer Insecticidal Soap. and I made a homemade organic insecticide recipe I found on one of the plant web sites, it worked like a charm. Not to mention she only likes distilled water. Now she is growing but they are now turning brown. I water the plant every two weeks with distilled water. Weather conditions for her are between 60 to 75 degrees. She also has an excellent source of filtered light. Can you diagnose, recommend, help me with saving this Cat Palm Tree.

Hi Valencia,

Brown fronds on Cat Palm

Over watered Cat Palm

I think your problems started when you re-potted your palm plant into a much larger pot. She probably liked her cozy home. When you move a plant to a new pot, you should only go to the NEXT SIZE CONTAINER. So if a plant is in a 4” pot you move it to a 6” or if in a 6” pot to an 8”. When you move a plant to a pot that is too large the roots never have a chance to dry out, they develop root rot, and the plant fronds turn brown and die. Always put a cat palm in a pot that has drip holes in the bottom. 8” of rocks doesn’t work. When you do put in a layer of rocks for drainage it should not be more than 2”. Here’s my recommendation: take the palm out of the current pot. Get rid of all the wet soil. Allow the plant to sit out over-night, bare-root, and dry out. Re-pot in a container with drip holes in the bottom that is only an inch or two larger than the root ball of the plant. Use any good potting soil you can buy at a garden center. Barely moisten the soil and don’t water again until the plant has practically dried out. The roots are going to be very fragile for a long time. There’s a product called Super Thrive that you can read about in the Glossary of the website that you should use every time you water.


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