Q: My queen palm has sickly yellow fronds with brown edges. What do I need to do to return it to a rich, deep green health?
A: There are tropical palms and desert palms. Queen palms are a tropical palm and are more suited for seacoast climates (like southern California and Florida) where they grow with little care.
Queen palms frequently suffer in our harsh dry desert climate, alkaline soil and salty water. Queen palms benefit greatly from a quarterly application of nitrogen fertilizer. You can buy palm tree food at most nurseries, a fertilizer formulated specifically for queen palms. It has many micronutrients that queen palms need, especially iron, manganese and magnesium.
Queen palms are finicky. I have seen one or two trees in a cluster look great while all the others look terrible. I have seen one or two trees in a cluster look terrible while all the others seem to thrive. Since queen palms are slow growers and only put out four or five fronds a year, it is difficult to tell when your treatments are successful. The palms sometimes grow better around swimming pools where the humidity is greater due to evaporation.
Queen palms are also very sensitive to irrigation practices. Water every seven to 10 days deeply April through September. If the queen palm is on drip irrigation, the system will need to have several emitters several feet out from the trunk and run several hours depending on the age of the tree. Watering several times a week for short duration is an invitation to queen palm problems. If you don’t want to take the time or be bothered with the education, you just want to fix the problem and are willing to pay for it, call a certified arborist. They will treat and feed your trees. Certified arborists are tree doctors who earn the title by training and testing in arboriculture from the International Society of Arboriculture.