House Plants/Kentiia palm

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QUESTION: I have a kentia palm in an 8/8 1/2 inch pot.   I am sure I need to repot it because it does not hold any water so I think it needs more compost.   I am worried about repotting it because of all the warnings against it but if I can't water it what else can I do?   It has about 22 leaves but it is not an old plant.   If I do have to repot it what type of compost should I use?

ANSWER: Hi Carole,

I am not sure how you have determined that your Kentia potting mix is not holding water. In the US, better quality Kentia growers are using a very gritty cinder potting mix that seems not to hold much water, but in fact does. If you are watering your Kentia thoroughly until a bit runs through the drain holes and the plant does not show any symptoms of water stress (wilting, leaf yellowing, brown tips) for at least three days, then I would strongly recommend not repotting.

Kentias are very reliable low light plants that grow very slowly indoors. It is rare that they outgrow their nursery pots. In addition, they have fragile root systems that are easily damaged if the repotting is not done properly.

The best potting mix is one that closely matches the mix that the nursery used to grow it in. Only you or a local nursery can determine that. That is another tricky part to repotting, so be very careful before you proceed.

I have written detailed articles on repotting and on Palm care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com. I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

If this information has been helpful, please click the Rate Volunteer bar below and enter a rating and NOMINATION for me. I am a volunteer on this site so Ratings are the only compensation I receive for answering plant questions.

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Regards,
Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

Visit my website at: A link to HorticulturalHelp.com



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for that.   When I water the plant the water immediately runs right the way through it.   I will try again though based on your advice.   I have never overwatered my Kentia palms and have found that they usually thrive on a bit of neglect, but perhaps I need to try to get the existing compost soaked through in case it is just too dry to take in the water..

ANSWER: Hi Carole,

Your last sentence may be right on the money. When potting media gets very dry, it becomes like a dry sponge and somewhat water repellent. So do give it a good soak, even letting the pot sit in several inches of water for an hour, if necessary. I suspect that may do the trick.

Of course, I also have to mention the exact opposite possibility. If the soil is already saturated, then any additional water will run right through.

~Will



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Will.   I think you have saved my Kentia palm.   I soaked it standing on a tray and it took up all the water.   I have watered it again today and it has not taken up the water so now I know it is soaked.

Answer
Hi Carole,

I am glad you were able to solve your Kentia problem. Now that you have re-wetted the soil, you should be able to resume normal watering. It is a good thing you checked in with me before going ahead with the repotting. Had you repotted, you might have solved the immediate problem, but had much more serious problems later on.

~Will  

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Will Creed

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I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.

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I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

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BA, Amherst College

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