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not reflect current scientific knowledge
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represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
L. S. Osborne, A. R. Chase and D. G. Burchl
University of Florida, IFAS
Agricultural Research Center Apopka
ARC-A Foliage Plant Research Note RH-1983-E
Chamaedorea palms are such important houseplants that one species,
Chamaedorea elegans, has the common name "Parlor Palm". All Chamaedorea
palms have stems usually less than 1 inch in diameter and can be either
single-stemmed or multi-trunked. The leaves are dark green and compound
with pinnae (leaflets) arranged along the rachis (midvein) resembling a
feather. Chamaedorea erumpens and Chamaedorea seifrizii, the bamboo palms,
are multi-trunked species reaching about 10 feet in height; however, C.
seifrizii has narrower leaves and greater cold tolerance. In Florida,
many of the Chamaedorea palms grown are hybrids between C. erumpens and
C. seifrizii and are known as Chamaedorea 'Florida Hybrid'.
Chamaedorea elegans is single-stemmed and usually sold in 4 to 6 inch
pots with several plants per pot. Chamaedorea cataractarum has shiny leaves,
is intermediate in size (about 18 24 inches high), and becomes multi-
trunked as it matures.
Other species are occasionally seen and most of them are similar in
having pinnate leaves, but a few very striking species, including Chamaedorea
ernestii-augustii and C. geonomiformis have undivided leaves.
Commercial production of bamboo palms often includes several months in
full sun to encourage basal shoot production and good stem diameter, but
most species develop their best color in shade, except C. cataractarum,
which maintains good color even when grown in full sun.
Entomologist, Plant Pathologist, Agricultural Research Center, Apopka and
Ornamentals Extension Specialist, Agricultural Research and Education
Center, Ft. Lauderdale, respectively.
1) Low temperature induced growth stagnation
Symptoms Little to no seed germination or plant growth and color
Control The medium should be maintained at 90F for the most rapid
even germination; below this, germination slows and disease problems
increase. However, this temperature will retard root growth and
should be reduced to 800F once peak germination has occurred. Most
root growth of palms stops at 60-650F and root activity slows so
that uptake of nutrients is reduced. This reduction in uptake may
not be uniform and some micronutrient deficiencies may occur in
2) pH induced nutrient deficiencies
Symptoms Deficiencies of manganese and iron may cause malformation of
new leaves as well as a chlorosis that is more severe on young
growth. Magnesium deficiency is commonly found on older leaves with
chlorosis typically extending in from the leaflet margin.
Control Maintaining soil pH below 7 will improve the availability of
iron and manganese and slow the leaching of magnesium. Application
of the appropriate nutrient will correct a problem, but palm
response tends to be slow. Foliar sprays will hasten color
improvement compared to soil application.
3) Root damage and foliar tip burn
Symptoms Poor or dead roots with burned leaf tips and/or margins.
Control Chamaedoreas are sensitive to waterlogged or poorly aerated
soils, and the slow reaction time of palms means that much root
damage can occur before foliar symptoms are observed. The potting
must be free-draining. Excess soluble salts, 1000 ppm or more,
will damage roots. Leaf tip and margin burn usually occurs
relatively soon after root damage begins. Leaching will remove
excess salts, but the pots must be drained well when this is
completed. Chamaedorea cataractarum needs more water than other
species in this group.
There are very few serious diseases of Chamaedorea spp. once plants are
past the seedling stage. As with most other plants which are produced from
seeds, damping-off due to fungal infection can occur either before or after
seedlings emerge from the soil. Root rot on large plants is usually not a
problem if plants are produced with appropriate amounts of water, and leaf
spots are not as common on Chamaedorea spp. as they are on some other palms.
The most serious diseases of this genus are stem rots caused by either
Phytophthora sp. or Gliocladium vermosceni. A real key to control appears
to be good spacing of plants since only then can they be monitored
efficiently for disease outbreaks.
MAJOR FUNGAL DISEASES
1) Gliocladium stem blight (Gliocladium vermosceni)
Symptoms This disease is characterized by yellowing of basal fronds,
black stem lesions with a gummy exudate, and masses of pink-orange
conidia of the fungus on the lesions. Fronds quickly die when
severely infected and their removal results in a thin plant with
Control Disease appears to be most severe during the winter months.
Benlate is registered for disease control on this plant. In
addition, when manicuring these palms in the field, dead fronds
should be removed only after they are completely brown, since
removal of green fronds leaves wounds exposed which facilitates the
entrance-of the fungal conidia. Pruning and sanitation should be
followed by application of Benlate to protect any open wounds
from infection. Most species of Chamaedorea appear to be susceptible
2) Helminthosporium leaf spot (Bipolaris setariae and Exserohilum
Symptoms Lesions are usually 1/8 to 1/4" long, reddish brown to black
and found all over the frond surface. A yellow halo (margin)
frequently surrounds the lesions. Under optimum conditions, the
lesions coalesce and form large irregularly shaped necrotic areas on
leaf tips and margins.
Control Elimination of foliar wetting will also eliminate disease.
Chemical applications, such as Daconil, Zineb, and Manzate, each
provide good control of these pathogens, but are not all labeled for
3) Phytophthora root and stem rot (Phytophthora sp.)
Symptoms Phytophthora root and stem rot occurs mostly during
the summer months and is typified by severe loss of roots and
wilting of the tops. Roots are blackened and their cortex is easily
removed from the central core. The symptoms on the upper portions
may be confined to loss of stems starting with lesions near the
soil line and yellowing of leaves on these stems, or can include
discrete lesions on the stems. Lesions are black and sunken, and
can appear on portions as high above the soil as 12 inches.
Control Use of pathogen-free potting medium, pots, and seedlings
is essential. Chemical applications can include use of Truban or
Subdue (not labeled for this use). The soil moisture should be
maintained as low as possible to reduce pathogen growth.
4) Root rots and damping-off (many fungi)
Symptoms Poor germination, blackening of roots, or mushiness
followed by yellowing, wilting and loss of the plant or seedling.
Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Pythium, and Phytophthora spp. each cause
Control Same as for Phytophthora stem and root rot. In addition,
Banrot or Benlate Truban, Benlate Subdue combinations may
provide good control of damping-off and root rot problems. Benlate,
Banrot, Truban 25EC and Truban 40.7F are labeled for use on
PHYTOTOXICITY OF BACTERICIDES AND FUNGICIDES ON CHAMAEDOREA PALMS
Safe Questionable or Unsafe
Agri-Strep Maneb compounds Truban 5G
Banrot 40WP Truban 25EC Copper compounds
Benlate 50WP Zineb compounds
Daconil 4.17 F
Pesticides were tested at recommended rates and intervals.
MAJOR INSECT AND MITE PESTS
The major arthropod pests of this plant group are mites. However, there
are a number of insects, such as scales, seed feeding ambrosia beetles,
thrips, and fungus gnats which also attack palms. In the control section for
each pest, a few of the many registered and effective pesticides will be
listed. For a complete listing, please consult the references at the end of
Symptoms Spider mites are the most common pest group found feeding on
palms. The primary species involved is the two-spotted spider mite.
Recently, a tarsonemid mite (Steneotarsonemus furcatus DeLeon) which
is related to the broad mite has caused severe damage to C. elegans.
Plants infested with mites begin to turn yellow or become speckled.
Speckling, in the case of the tarsonemid mite, is much more distinct
with small yellow spots resulting from the feeding activity of
individual mites. When spider mite populations become high enough,
webbing, loss of leaves, and plant death can occur.
Control Mites can be controlled with either Vendex or Pentac. The
critical point in any control program is thorough coverage with
pesticide. The best control program is to minimize the possibility
of introducing mites into the growing area on infested plant material
In the case of the tarsonemid mite, it would help to grow palms as
far away from the preferred hosts of this mite (Maranta sp.,
Calathea sp., and Bermuda grass) as possible.
Symptoms Infested plants become weakened or stunted and decline or
die. Scales can be found feeding on leaves, petioles, or stems.
Their shape, size, and color are variable and many are hard to
distinguish from the plant material on which they are feeding. The
soft scales excrete sticky drops of liquid which is called honeydew.
This material soon appears black in color as a result of sooty mold
developing on it.
Control Scales are difficult to control, especially when they are
mature. Control measures should concentrate on killing the pest
when it is in the crawler stage. Systemic materials are preferred.
Examples of chemicals which have systemic activity are: Dimethoate,
Disyston, Metasystox-R, Vydate, and Orthene. Bendiocarb appears to
be as effective as some of the systemic materials.
Symptoms Infested leaves become curled or distorted, with silver-gray
scars or calloused areas where feeding has occurred.
Control Many materials are registered and effective at controlling
Symptoms Seeds have small circular holes from which the small darkly
colored adult beetles have emerged. This problem should be detected
before the seeds are planted, otherwise significant losses due to
poor germination will result. When a container of heavily infested
seed is first opened, beetles will often be observed.
Control Use clean seed.
PHYTOTOXICITY OF INSECTICIDES AND MITICIDES TO PALMS
Safe Questionable* Unsafe
Diazinon EC Dimethoate EC Kelthane WP
Dipel Kelthane EC Morestan WP
Dursban EC Metasystox-R EC Omite WP
Ficam Orthene WP
Permethrin EC Plictran WP
Resmethrin EC Thiodan 3EC
Pesticides were tested at recommended rates and intervals.
1. Chase, A. R. 1983. Phytotoxicity of some fungicides used on
tropical foliage plants. ARC-Apopka Research Report, RH-83-2.
2. Short, D. E. 1978. Phytotoxicity of insecticides and miticides to
foliage and woody ornamental plants. Extension Entomology Report #57.
3. Short, D. E., L. S. Osborne, and R. W. Henley. 1982. 1982-83 Insect
and related arthropod management guide for commercial foliage and
woody plants in Florida. Extension Entomology Report #52.
4. Simone, G. W. 1982. Disease control pesticides for foliage production
1982. Extension Plant Pathology Report #30.
Mention of a commercial or proprietary product or of a pesticide in this paper
does not constitute a recommendation by the authors, nor does it imply
registration under FIFRA as amended.