Q. One of my Cabada palms is having some infection problems. Can you tell me what steps I need to take to restore this palm to normalcy?
V. W., via email
The botanical name for the cabada palm is Dypsis cabadae and it is related to the areca palm. However, the cabada palm grows taller (up to 30 feet tall). And for some unknown reason, they are not seen very often in landscapes but should be.
Your palms do not have a disease or insect problem, but they do have boron deficiency. In your photo, you can see that the tips of the leaflets are hooked. Boron deficiency shows up on the newest leaves so your palm may have already recovered from this deficiency if all of the younger leaves look normal. This deficiency also comes and goes.
Boron deficiency symptoms can look different on different species of palms. In coconuts it can cause the nuts to drop prematurely and therefore be confused with lethal yellowing.
Chronic boron deficiency is caused by not enough boron in the soil and chronic over-watering. Heavy rains can cause a temporary deficiency.
To prevent this nutrient imbalance, use 8-2-12 + 4% magnesium fertilizer and check the label to make sure that boron is listed on the label.
Here's a link to a UF fact sheet about boron and palms. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep264. It gives recommendations on how to correct the problem. Be careful because it’s easy to cause boron toxicity if the guidelines are not followed.
A great website to visit is http://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/. Click on the Palm Production link. This website shows different nutritional deficiencies and diseases of palms in Florida.
Send undamaged (live or dead) insects in a crush-proof container such as a pill bottle or film canister with the top taped on. Mail them in a padded envelope or box with a brief note explaining where you found the insects.
Do not tape insects to paper or place them loose in envelopes. Insect fragments or crushed insect samples are almost impossible to identify.
Send them to the address of your county extension office, found in the blue pages in the phone book under county government.
Adrian Hunsberger is an entomologist/horticulturist with the UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension office. Write to Plant Clinic, 18710 SW 288th St., Homestead, FL 33030; e-mail email@example.com.