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I got this palm tree from a trade yesterday and I'm trying to come up with a rehab plan. I know it needs repotting, and potentially more light than it was getting at its old home, but it also has these tiny white/brown spots that are occurring along the ridges of the newer leaves.

close up of spots on leaf

The older leaves on the plant don't have these spots. They are also only located on the stems of the leaves and the center ridges of each leaflet. The new growth on the plant also looks a bit weird, it's fully white on one side of the new leaf that's coming in.

new growth

Anyway this is my first palm tree and I'm not sure what to make of this, so any help would be appreciated!

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This palm has a well established colony of mealy bug. Using a magnifying glass will show them better as they hide in a white powdery layer of wax.

You can try controlling them with a mix of 5 ml of dish soap to one liter of water. Dip a cloth in the solution and wipe all surfaces of the plant. Do this three times every five to seven days to catch the eggs when they hatch.

They are hard to eliminate as they hide in the axils of the leaves and some types live in soil and on the plant.

When a colony is well established it can slowly spread to other plants that are close by.

I was an interior landscaper for over 10 years and never managed to control a mealy bug infestation without the use of pesticides or systemic pesticides. I don't recommend either of these solutions for use in a dwelling due the health and safety issues.

I recommend you throw this plant out as it is hard to treat the mealybug and it could spread to other plants.

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  • Sometimes you have to cut your losses - I agree that giving up is possibly the best solution. – Stephie Jan 10 at 13:21
  • That's what I was worried about. The only thing that made me wonder if it was possibly something else was the fact that there are no spots at all on the old growth, and they're occuring in such a regular pattern on the new growth - but maybe those are just the juiciest bits and that's why. – tris Jan 10 at 14:45

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