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Plant Diseases/Madagascar palm

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Madagascar palm
Madagascar palm  

Madagascar palm
Madagascar palm  
Hello, I have a Madagascar palm about 1 year, and I found out a small black hole close to the top, it is a 2-3 feet length palm, I will be really appreciate,if you give me any advice to take care of my palms. Thanks advance.

Answer
Dear Sean, That is a very impressive pachypodium or Madagascar palm.  I was very surprised to see the hole near the top, but it is actually not too uncommon.  This happens a lot with extremely spiky plants such as this and cacti, where a bug or other animal will chew a hole between the spikes for a safe home away from predators. The plan is not to kill the plant, but rather the critter has a vested interest in keeping the plant alive because it provides such safe lodging.  In some large cacti, birds and rodents will build nests.  However, it may not be something you want when it is your plant.  Sometimes getting rid of them may be tricky, given that you can't tell what it is until you kill it, and sometimes not then if it dies within the hole or away from it.  Looking at your second picture, I do notice a problem with your plant, and that is the white bumpy scales all over the foliage.  These are scale insects and remove a lot of moisture and nutrients from your plant.  To get rid of them, you will need to spray the plant with a lightweight horticultural oil.  Do not use dormant oil as it is too heavy for this time of year, and don't use cooking oil, or other type of oil product.  SunSpray is a good choice for the horticultural oil.  Spray the plant thoroughly, top and bottom of the leaves.  You can also aim the spray at the hole and this will have the added benefit of evicting your guest and allowing the plant to heal from the inside.  The oil covers the scale insects and suffocates them.  Scale doesn't react to most pesticides, because the shell covering protects them.  Spray several times about a week apart.  You will know that the scale is dying when a moderate stream of water will dislodge them from the plant's surface.  After a month or so, your scale should be dead and your hole will be starting to heal.  It will probably always be visible, but it shouldn't get any larger, and it will dry up and scar over on the inside.  I hope this information helps you, but please write back if you have more questions.  Thank you for presenting this very interesting plant with such excellent pictures to show the damage.  Good luck, Melissa

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Melissa Johnston

Expertise

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

Experience

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

Organizations
Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

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

Education/Credentials
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 Allexperts.com 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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