Question: During the excessive hot spell in July, our irrigation failed while we were out of town. As a result, one of our queen palms lost all of its branches. In spite of subsequent life support, it does not appear to be coming back. Is that too much to hope for? Is there anything we can do to help it recover, or should we just mourn its passing?
Queen palms can handle heat, but they struggle with extreme cold (25 F) and hot, dry winds. In short, among the approximately 10 palms we can grow here, they are not among the chosen ones. However, if these plants are water stressed or planted under poor soil conditions, then they will not tolerate heat very well either.
The only places here where I have seen decent, older queen palms have been in areas protected from wind, the soil prepared adequately with amendments and the use of organic surface mulches.
Once they are stressed and water is withheld, they will suffer greatly. They need adequate soil preparation at the time of planting, good drainage, protection from winds and low temperatures, an annual fertilization program and organic surface mulches.
In our soils, they suffer from iron deficiency, so that needs to be part of your annual fertilizer program.
Bob Morris is a horticulture expert living in Las Vegas and professor emeritus for the University of Nevada. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com.