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Plant Diseases/Madagascar Palm



We've had our plant for about 6 years. It's alway done really well. About a year ago I noticed that a section of the trunk had caved in quite a bit. Shortly there after it dropped all it's leaves. Not knowing what to do, we relocated the plant to an area where in would get sunlight most of the day (we live in SoCal). There are also a couple of small "splits in the trunk about half way up the plant. Recently I noticed a second location had caved in, higher up in the plant and today we noticed that two of the branches were drooping. I feel it's water related either too much or not enough. Ideas??

Dear Mark, I do feel like your problem is likely water related.  These plants require very little water and too much water can result in water logged or sunken tissue.  The best way to water these plants is to wait until the top few inches of the soil is dry, and then water very slowly and thoroughly until the soil is completely damp.  Remove any runoff water standing in a saucer underneath them as this is one of the main ways plants get overwatered.  Also during the winter months after the leaves fall, they likely won't require any watering until the leaves begin to grow again in spring.  Unfortunately, the sunken areas will not grow back in.  I'm not sure if your plant can be salvaged, and it may be in its final stages.  Good drying out may slow the problem and it might survive although stay misshapen.  That one upper limb looks healthy, and it may be possible to remove it and get that section to root.  If you do that, cut it off, being careful to avoid spines and sap, and let the cut end dry off for a few days.  Apply rooting hormone and try to root it in a sandy soil.  I wish I could give you better news, but I hope this information helps you.  Good luck.  Melissa

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Melissa Johnston


Plant diseases, landscaping, tropical plants, roses, herbs, plant care, grafting, horticulture, plant identification, anything about plants I can likely answer.


35 years experience in various plant businesses, 1984 Certified Texas Master Gardener.

Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

none as of yet, but I have a plant q&a book I am in process of submitting.

Magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M, 1978

Awards and Honors
Plant growing awards, highest grade for Texas Master Gardener graduates.

Past/Present Clients
Past member of and was very highly rated. Owned landscape company in the past, Almost Paradise, and was very successful despite little equipment, no help, and no advertising. Lived well for two years until 9/11.

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