The palm tree is one of the most disease resistant trees and has a reputation for being relatively flexible, being able to grow where many other trees cannot. However, these trees to are susceptible to a variety of diseases, most of which are first noticeable by a change in the palm fronds. Understanding what palm tree diseases exist in Florida and taking the time to properly diagnose them is the key to helping clear up palm tree problems.
Although palm trees can fall prey to a number of insects, most of the disease in palms is from one of two sources: a bacterium or fungus. In some cases, the symptoms are the same, so the problem often takes a diagnosis from a plant professional, or a method of trial and error. In some cases, a nutrient deficiency could also cause some health issues for Florida palm trees, so a soil test may also be a good idea.
The most important thing a palm owner in Florida can do is make sure you know when a problem is developing. You should take special note of the colors and growth habits of your palm trees. Early intervention is often the key to saving the tree and maintaining good palm tree health. If a problem is noticed, the University of Florida has extension offices throughout the state to help with such issues.
One of the most common problem with palms in Florida is phytophthora bud rot. In addition to this type of bud rot, other species of fungi may also cause bud rot. Often, this shows up first in the fronds, where newer leaves die out, which never happens in healthy palms. Fusarium wilt, caused by another fungus, kills fronds, but may not cause any wilting as the name would suggest. A professional will recommend the appropriate treatment, which should be applied on a regular schedule as instructed by the label.
Another common problem in Florida is bacteria, which can cause serious issues such as lethal yellowing. Some types of bud rot are also blamed on bacteria, which is why a diagnosis is so important. A type of antibiotic, known as Tree Saver, is available for use only in Florida to treat some bacterial infections. It is injected right into the trunk in multiple treatments. This must be done by the time 25 percent of the fronds have been infected or the tree will likely die.
One of the most common nutrient deficiencies in Florida palms is a potassium deficiency, which most commonly shows up as translucent yellow or orange spots. A magnesium deficiency will likely show up as a bright yellow band around older fronds. If there is a nitrogen deficiency, it will likely show up as a pale color in the fronds and you will notice reduced growth. You can correct these deficiencies with the proper fertilizer.