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Brown spots. Is my palm sick?

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Comment from Hans Schumann

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I have been worried about the brown tips of my Cordyline australis for a while. Now I have noticed brown spots on the lower parts of the leaves (see picture). Could this be a disease?

Brown spots. Is my palm sick? (31/05/2011)

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  • Views: 8865
  • Replies: 6
  • Posted: Tue. 31st May 2011 18:18

Re: Brown spots. Is my palm sick?

Reply from Anita Sullivan

I think there might be two causes here. The brown tips may be frost crisping (appearing during winter). The brown spots may be snail damage (appearing during spring). I had brown patches on my cordyline leaves (and my phormiums) and discovered snails lurking in the crevices between the leaves. I removed the snails and no (or hardly any) new brown bits appeared. Pulling away old dead leaves from the trunk also helps, as there are fewer places for critters to hide. If your palm is generally pert and green and putting on new growth, I wouldn't worry. But maybe there are other theories out there... XAX

  • Posted: Tue. 31st May 2011 19:59

Re: Brown spots. Is my palm sick?

Reply from Kathy C

Hi, Hans,
Definitely look for those snails. If you don't find any, and the brown spots are slightly raised in any way, the plant could have rust. Cordylines are prone to rust and the best way to deal with it is to remove the most badly effected leaves and then spray with a fungicide - Dithane or Systhane fungus fighter will work.
Kathy C

  • Posted: Tue. 31st May 2011 20:34

Re: Re: Brown spots. Is my palm sick?

Reply from Hans Schumann

Thanks so much to both of you for your advice. I could not find any snails, just one grey spider.

It's probably the rust then, a term which describes the spots very well. I have ordered both Dithane or Systhane fungus fighter. What worries me is the following advice I found on the internet and which basically says that I should remove all affected leaves:

"Apply a fungicide to prevent further infection on leaves that have not been infected; once a leaf spot appears, you cannot cure it. Prune away all diseased leaves before applying fungicide."

Almost all leaves are affected, so there would not be much left of the plant. Very frustrating, as I just bought this mature palm two months ago.

I checked the rest of my garden and found that my Trachycarpus fortunei shows the same spots. That's my second largest tree after the Corddylines.

Do I really have to cut back all affected leaves?

  • Posted: Wed. 1st June 2011 17:10

Re: Re: Re: Brown spots. Is my palm sick?

Reply from Kathy C

Hi, Hans,
Cutting back all would most likely eliminate the problem (but if all leaves are affected, that could severely weaken or kill the plant!). So, I would think removing the worst afftected leaves and then spraying the rest will control the problem. You will most likely have to make the spraying a regular part of your garden maintenance - as often as the packet recommends.
Kathy C

  • Posted: Wed. 1st June 2011 18:40

Re: Re: Re: Re: Brown spots. Is my palm sick?

Reply from Hans Schumann

Hi again

I have spoken to the nursery from which I bought the plant. They said it would recover quickly if I treat it correctly. Here is their care advice:

"Cordylines can be cut back quite hard to leave just a few vertical leaves. A pair old scissors is the best thing to use. Cut leaves at the base working your way up the trunk. Try and remove as many of the damaged ones as you can. Make sure the leaves are bagged and removed form the garden (don't have them hanging around as they could be a source of re infection. NB do this before you spray as the sprays will be more effective (better coverage). Make sure you have well fertilised soil so it has plenty of nutrients to get it going. Think about mixing the soil with a good compost.The sooner you do this the sooner recovery will start. This plant should respond well to mycorrhizal tablets.

I would suggest you spray once a week with Sythane or Dithane. Make sure you use plenty of product volume so that the whole plant is treated well (get it into the close leaf blades if possible)."

They offered a 50% discount if I gave the plant a chance, which I have accepted.

  • Posted: Tue. 14th June 2011 10:49

Re: Brown spots. Is my palm sick?

Reply from R. Dyer

Hi,
Sorry for the late reply. These brown spots are normal and are caused by winter stress and if you have recently bought this plant...transport damage. These plants are strapped up for delivery to avoid crushing and these marks can be caused by this proceeduure. Your white powder on the trachycarpus is also normal and can be taken as a sign that the plant is healthy.
Hope this helps?

  • Posted: Mon. 9th January 2012 10:23