Q.potted pygmy date palm tree revitalizing
My plant went unwatered for quite awhile, and has lost its ‘energy.’ I truly want to resuscitate this houseplant because it is so beautiful and I’ve really liked the energy it has given my home. I live in New England, and my house is often chilly and doesn’t have a great deal of light. Please give any advice on how to care for it. I currently have the plant in its pot in the bath tub with a large platter under it and water it as soon as the soil gets dry, but the leaves (fronds?) and stems are dry and don’t seem to be responding to my care. All help greatly appreciated. Will submit a picture if that would help. Many many thanks for your help. Connie
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Unless your bathroom is very bright, you should put the plant where it can get more light. While plants need water, they also need light to thrive.
Once you move it to a sunny location, water only when the top of the soil is dry. You may actually be overwatering the plant at this point, which may also cause it to lose vigor.
The plant will need time and the right right conditions to recover. It may be some time before it does. If it is the look of the plant you liked, you may want to consider simply getting a new one, as it could be quite some time before it recovers fully.
Pygmy date palm is one of the plants that likes its soil to get almost dry between waterings. That means all the way down through the soil, where the roots are. Once you've watered it well, you can move it back to high light. It might help you to understand that once leaves are damaged, they don't "come back." They can close their stomata in response to unfavorable moisture conditions, what we call wilting, but if the conditions continue too long, the wilted leaves never regain their previous vigor. They may still function somewhat in their capacity as energy factories for the plant, but the plant is going to want to make new leaves which will be more efficient. However, palms produce new leaves rather slowly. After 2 or 3 months of correct watering, time for the roots to recover from their drought, you can start to cut off the old leaves a couple at a time, every 3 or 4 months, to encourage the plant to make new leaves. Fertilize once a month with balanced fertilizer, used at 1/2 strength.