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Posted:  08 Sep 2011 02:57  
I have 10 7-foot Kentias in a retail space that need periodic cleaning - mostly dust, not pesticidal or hard water residue, but dusters are not up to the task.

I would like to finish with a mild hard sheen, not a gloss. I would prefer to avoid hand wiping, but will if that is really the best option.

Any suggestions?

Will Creed
Posted:  08 Sep 2011 17:46   Last Edited By: Clem 
Hi, Will,
If you can move them to a service area (loading dock or shaded outdoor area), I'd just use Foliglo and let them drip dry before relocating them back to their spaces.  Used at the medium rate, that product will get rid of the "microdust" without any need for wiping...the product runs off and takes the dust with it.  Can't be done easily in place, though, so you will need to take them someplace where you can make a mess.  The Foliglo will also make the plants less likely to accumulate dust going forward, so your cleaning episodes will be less frequent, too.

Posted:  08 Sep 2011 23:26  
Thanks, Clem. My reference to the retail space wasn't clear. I cannot move them to a "safe" place. That's part of the problem. I suspect I may have to hand wipe or spray very lightly with a plastic tarp underneath.

Posted:  09 Sep 2011 15:05  
Are the palms still in their nursery containers inside of the decorative planters?  If so, can't you "pop them out" for removal to a work area where they can be sprayed and allowed to drip-dry?  If direct-planted, therein lies the root of many problems (no pun intended)...triple-potting is the best technique for plant installations of this kind, because it allows you to quickly and easily remove the plant from its container without disturbing container fill and staging, underplantings, etc.  That technique has been copied by the nursery production industry, called "pot-in-pot", whereby the container plant is inserted into a "socket" container that has been sunk into the ground to hold it in place and keep it from blowing over while still permitting free drainage at the bottom of the container.  We even do this with plants in large atrium beds...it's just so much easier to "unplug" a plant for replacement and "plug in" the new one than to bother with all that digging.

You might use a technique that I remember reading about on the old 'Scaper Talk forum years ago...someone would make an inverted teepee out of poly film and long bamboo stakes inserted into the edges of the container so that they could spray inside the "tent" and the runoff would go into the soil.  If you don't make too much of a mess, the minimal amount of runoff won't hurt the plant's roots and surrounding floors and furnishings are protected.

Posted:  09 Sep 2011 22:17  
Thanks, Clem. Unfortunately, these Kentias were purchased by the head designer for a chain of retail stores from a local plant retailer. The retailer also sold the designer some over-sized ceramic planters and direct planted them in a heavy potting soil. Needless to say, I groaned audibly when I was called in to help and saw what had been done!

I have explained to the designer how wrong-headed all of this was and the problems that have and will continue to occur. Because he purchases plants nationwide for his stores, I urged him to contact local interiorscapers who, unlike plant retailers, have a professional interest in understanding how to keep plants alive and attractive over the long haul. He was pleased to receive this information.

As an industry we still have so much educating to do!

I suspect I will use a floor covering and a small hand sprayer with minimal spray drift to get these cleaned up. I will probably use Brand X as the cleaner.

Posted:  09 Sep 2011 23:11  
And the irony is that, as I understand it, kentias prefer to be pot-bound, which clearly they are not now, since they were planted into over-sized containers!

Posted:  10 Sep 2011 00:26  
Posted:  10 Sep 2011 07:29  
An interesting note. Yes Kentias do like to be pot-bound, and many times moving them up to larger containers takes a long time for them to adjust and send new roots out.
Another interesting FYI, Kentias love very compacted soil. Up until the late 1970's (from the early 1900's) we potted Kentias in a soil mix that was impossible to push you finger into to test for moisture. It wasn't until close to 1980 that we, under pressure from the interiorscape market, changed to a soil mix that you could actually stick your finger into.

On the positive side this lighter soil mix is fine for sub-irrigation, where as the old soil mix, even though loved by the plant, just wouldn't be adequate for proper capillary action.

Rick W
Keeline Wilcox Nurseries
Posted:  10 Sep 2011 22:03  
Rick, I recall that concrete you guys referred to as "soil"!  When we lost a Kentia, it was pretty much impossible to do a post-mortem without a jackhammer...

Posted:  12 Sep 2011 15:43  
It is always interesting to me to see the contrast of the soil mixes of the two coasts.  California's tends to be heavy clay (Hawaii...volcanic rock) and Florida basically a standard soil mix.  Can't quite understand how they survive in all of them if the Kentia specialists says clay???!

Posted:  14 Sep 2011 01:00  
"Soil" as we used to know it has faded from use in potted tropical ornamentals, partly due to weight/cost reasons, and partly because soil isn't the best thing to use when growing in a container due to its structural problems over time as it compacts and porosity is lost.

What Florida nurseries use now is mostly a pastiche of sphagnum peat moss, coir, rice hulls, bagasse (sugar cane leavings), bog peat and perlite for aeration.  So it's hard to learn how to handle each variation in the interiorscape, because each custom mix has its own physical and chemical properties.

The ideal medium would be a hydroponic aggregate or other hydroponic substrate that would support the plant's root system but contribute nothing else to the equation.  That would allow us to control nutrition and keep roots in better long-term health.  But that was tried (still is used in Europe) and abandoned by the few vendors/growers who tried it due to cost and weight issues.

I've found that Kentias grown in a peat/perlite mix do very well for us, while volcanic and clay media don't.  Probably partially our inability to master the learning curves for these, but at some point you gotta just give up and switch.  This isn't a research project we're carrying on here, it's a business enterprise!

Posted:  15 Sep 2011 06:08  
We have had the opposite experience with the clay media and volcanic rock.  I am having better results with the clay medium sustaining the Kentia's longer and growing.  Hard to judge the moisture of the soil but this clay soil does like to be on the moist side.  I have counseled techs who thought the clay should be dry and the result is a collapsed plant. If the clay soil looks real light in color, it is too dry.
Guess these Kentias are Keeline Wilcox?  That is why they have grown so well all these years?  I am happy with them
Posted:  30 Sep 2011 11:27  
Maintenance: Easy. Kentia palms require minimal pruning just to get rid of brown leaves. Over pruning can cause irreversible damage to the trunk. To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply fertilizer palm quality has continued release formulation twice a year during the growing season.

Insects and diseases, plant diseases are rarely a problem with the palms grown indoors. Major and minor irrigation, along with insects and mites are often the main themes. There are a couple of small insects that attack the Kentia Palm, mealybugs and mites. To get rid of mites using a home remedy that worked very well for me, spraying the plant twice a day with a dish soap mixture.
Propagation: Propagation is by seed. Place the seeds in sandy soil during the spring or summer. The best temperature for 65F to 75F is spread. It takes a long time to Kentia P
alm fruit to mature, about 3-4 years. Unfortunately it is not easy to determine when the fruits and seeds are ripe because of the color transformation that gradually changes the color of the fruit orange to dark red as they mature mate. Kentia takes 2 or 3 points varies crops to maturity.
Warm temperatures around 80F-104F (26C-40C) helps speed the germination process. Kentia seeds are an exception and can tolerate lower temperatures to about 50F germination (10C), probably because they are indigenous to Lord Howe Island, a tropical island in cold on the same latitude as San Diego, but in the Southern Hemisphere. Palm sprouts due to low light shade or filtered, but not in the dark. It takes 1-3 months to Kentia palm seeds to germinate.
artificial flower arrangements
Posted:  30 Sep 2011 15:23  

I think the main interest here is maintaining Kentias in the interiorscape.  And palms grown indoors do indeed have pest issues...scale, mites, mealybugs all trouble our interior palms at various times.

Dish soap is NOT a great treatment for insect problems or for cleaning foliage, for that matter.  It contains detergents that damage the outer cuticle of the leaf and can have phytotoxic effects on the tissues beneath that outer, protective covering and so should not be used.

Posted:  03 Oct 2011 07:42  
Hello Clem,
Thank you responding and i will follow your tips.

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