Documents: Latest From: The Real Dirt:

Questions About White Grubs In Lawns And Possibly A Travellers Palm

And Where They Do (Or Do Not) Grow
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

April 19, 2015

Above, three sizes of white grubs dug from beneath the turf; the spray version of GrubOut from Wilson; and a fall photo of a neighbour’s lawn in Toronto all dug up by raccoons in search of white grubs. Below, a second view of the same neighbour’s lawn in Toronto; (Photos by the author) and two shots of Travellers Palms showing their typical growth habit.



Roy Henny Beeder wrote just a few days ago asking, “When is the best time for me to put on Grub Out?

It was unclear from whence he wrote, so I could not answer him very well. Hence I wrote back saying, “Where are you located? I need to know in order to answer your question. In your garden, are the daffs in bloom yet, and what about flowering shrubs—what is blooming currently?”

His response was as follows: “We live in Port Coquitlam, I don't have anything flowering. We don't have any grubs yet our grass is quite healthy. Some people in our neighbourhood have them. Look after my lawn very well, do all the right things. Just want to prevent the grubs from invading our lawn. Thank you.”

During our trip from Parksville to Chilliwack last week (mentioned here in last week’s article) we went through Port Coquitlam on the return trip last Thursday. While their spring is not nearly as far advanced as we are here, there were nevertheless many shrubs showing colour as well as a number of bulbs. I guess Mr. Beeder just doesn’t have any in his garden.

The application of GrubOut to control white grubs or Japanese beetles must be done either in early spring or late summer/fall. Generally speaking that means applying in April; certainly before mid May. Here in Parksville, I would say the application should be made by mid-April in early seasons such as we are experiencing this year. Once it gets much later than this in the spring, the larger older grubs move down in the soil to lay eggs and at that depth the chemical cannot reach them so it is a waste of time and material.

The actual best time to kill grubs is in late summer and early fall when the new younger grubs are just below the surface eating the roots of grass. The chemical easily reaches them at that time. So, between early May and late July, in most climates, is NOT the time to be applying GrubOut or Sevin.

Now, before going to apply a chemical to kill grubs you should first ascertain whether or not you have them in your soil. If the grass appears to be suffering in some areas that is a good prognosticator that you do have grubs of some type. The better way to make sure is to cut about a 30 cm 1 sq. ft) square area of sod out and lift it carefully using a square spade. After doing this you will likely be able to see some grubs in the soil below the little sod you removed. If there are only one or two or even a half dozen they should not be a problem. Wait until next year and do the tests again.

If there are a dozen or more, then you could soon have a problem, and that would be the time to consider putting on an application of GrubOut when the next season (spring or fall treatment) comes about.

So, the short answer is to test to see if you have any great number in one or another area of your turf, and if they are there, get the GrubOut on now!

Much longer ago than Roy Beeder, Nathan Rollins of unknown location wrote with the following question.

“So my uncle has a plant at his house called a ravenea. He got it from a greenhouse and has been fertilizing it once every 2 weeks as he was told but the ends of the plant are going brown and he has already lost one. He was wondering what could be done to remedy this.”

First, as is almost always the case, I need to know your specific location. It is quite likely the plant will not be hardy outdoors. Ravena is the botanical name for a number of palms, none of which, as far as I know, are hardy anywhere in Canada, unless they are somehow protected for the winter. But, Ravena is only the Genera name of a number of palms including the distinctive Travellers Palm (Ravena madagascariensis). The second or species name is needed to know exactly which palm we are talking about. However, as I said, none is hardy anywhere in Canada unless in a greenhouse/conservatory or are well protected (boxed) outdoors for the winter.

I have seen good Travellers palms in such locations as Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, and in the Allan Garden Greenhouses in Toronto.

They’re called Travellers palms because the huge fronds basically come off the main trunk and point in only two directions, said to be north and south.

If you give me more information I’ll attempt to give you some specific recommendations. Fertilizing every two weeks sounds a bit too often to me.


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row