Q: Our butia palm is dying due to overwatering. What can we do to help it?
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Posted by: Shannon Sperati
Q: I have a well-established butia palm that is probably 35 years old. Lately, it hasn't been doing very well. It looks a little haggard, and, while the new growth appears to be okay, the other fronds have died off more quickly than usual. I did find out that after a power outage, the sprinkler system was going off every day for 10 minutes! This occurred over approximately a one-month timeframe. However, the issues with this tree started before the power outage. We dug down a couple feet, and it appears that the soil is very clayey and therefore retains a lot of the moisture for a long period of time. Perhaps we need to change the soil? Perhaps we need to add boron? I know it was getting overwatered, so we have addressed this problem. We paid a pretty penny for this tree, and we have already lost one and don't want to lose another. Is examining the tree a job for an arborist? We live in Camarillo, California, in Ventura County.
A: This sounds like an issue that would have to be diagnosed in the field by a local expert. Drainage is very important for palm trees, and the clay soil and overwatering may be a problem, but it is hard to know without seeing the tree in person. There are a number of Registered Consulting Arborists in your area who might be able to help.