10 reasons why palm leaves turn brown or yellow (2023)

10 reasons why palm leaves turn brown or yellow (1)

Healthy outdoor palms are usually quick to establish, easy to grow and have very few problems. While it's normal for palm trees to shed old brown fronds, there's a problem if you notice a lot of brown, yellow, or drooping leaves. Figuring out why your palm tree is diseased could be a challenge.

From my many years of palm growing experience, the most common problems are: overwatering, underwatering, lack of nutrients, disease, insect infestation, fertilizer burn or cold damage. A newly planted palm could have brown or yellow fronds/tips due to "transplant shock".

First of all, don't panic.

There could benumber of reasonswhy your palm doesn't feel good. Most likely, it's one of those basic everyday grooming issues that's easy to fix. Go through the following topics and see if any of them apply.

1. Natural tanning

As I mentioned above, it is normal for the palm to shed the lower fronds as they are replaced by the new ones emerging from the center of the crown. The old leaves turn brown, dry up and die, fall to the ground or remain hanging until removed. Each species of palm tree has its own specific number of fronds that keep it green.

2. Overwatering

It's important to know whattype of palm treeThey have because different palm species have different water requirements. First signs of overhydration areyellow or brown leavesthat fall before drying.

Unless you have a proper watering schedule, overwatering usually occurs during frequent rains or due to poor drainage. This could cause root rot, which is a fungus found in places with excess moisture.

To solve this problem, improve drainage by adding sand to the soil or installing a pipe that drains water away from the plant.

3. Underwater

browning of the tipsis the first sign that your palm is not getting enough water. Palm trees like moist but well-drained soil. You can use your fingers or a moisture meter to measure the moisture level of the soil.

Never let the soil dry out completely. Water your palm deeply during the drought period to ensure the roots have enough time to absorb the water.

Deep pouringis when you let the water drain slowly instead of dumping it all at once. This method usually works best on newly planted palm trees that don't have an extensive root system.

4. Nutrient Deficiency

10 reasons why palm leaves turn brown or yellow (2)

If water level is not an issue, I would look at nutrients next. As you know, the most important elements for palm trees are nitrogen (N), phosphate (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn) and iron (Fe).

(Video) Why Is Our Palm Plant Turning Brown

CorrespondingUniversity of FloridaResearch, the only way to determinenutrient deficiencyis the visual analysis of the palm leaf, which could be very difficult when mineral deficiencies overlap. By the way, the soil analysis does not reflect the nutrient balance of the palm tree, so there is no point in testing the soil.

  • In the case of a nitrogen (N) deficiency, you will notice unusualyellow-greenishFrond.
  • In the case of potassium (K) deficiency there isyellow spotson older leaves.
  • In the case of magnesium (Mg) deficiency, the peaksbright yellow.
  • Manganese (Mn) deficiency causes "frizzletop" deformed new sheets withbrown areas.
  • If you are iron (Fe) deficient, you will notice the new leaves turningyellowishwith green veins.

Palm trees should be fertilized with a good quality slow-release fertilizer during the growing season (late March to late October). The frequency ofpalm fertilizationdepends heavily on the soil type and amount of rainfall in your area.

5. Cold damage

10 reasons why palm leaves turn brown or yellow (3)

During unexpected cold snaps, it is sometimes difficult to provide winter protection in time. If your palm has been damaged by frost or cold temperatures, you will noticeDrooping, wilting, or browning of old leaves. In some severe cases, the new growth may appear brown, black, or misshapen.

It can take months for the damage to become apparent. There's not much you can do other than protect your palm from future cold snaps and apply an antibacterial spray to prevent fungus/bacteria from developing.

6. Fertilizer burn

Too much fertilizer can burn the rootsbrowningthe tips and fronds. If fertilizer is placed too close to the trunk, it can also burn the trunk. This can seriously weaken the palm, which attracts insects and disease.

Only fertilize palm trees during the growing season with a good quality, slow-release fertilizer. Be sure to place 2 feet away from the trunk. If you notice trunk damage, spray the area with an antibacterial/fungal spray.

7. Transplant shock

It is normal for newly planted palm trees to experience "transplant shock" due to root loss, water loss, new light levels, new temperatures and new humidity levels. So don't be surprised if your newly planted palm tree turnsbrown or yellow.

If youplanted it correctly, as it offers good drainage and soil it should recover fairly soon. You really don't have to do anything. Don't fertilize it for the first 2 months while it establishes itself in the new location.

8. Sunburn

Before planting a new palm tree in full sun, give it a few weeks to acclimate to the new location to avoid sunburn. Otherwise, high light levels will cause the fronds to rotateyellow and colourless.

To acclimatize the palm tree, place it in a shady spot and gradually increase the light level every week. If the palm is not very big, you can cover it with plastic that gets lighter every week by drilling more holes in the plastic.

If your palm is sunburned, leave the damaged fronds on the tree. Your palm will get used to the new environment and will recover after a few months.

9. Insect attack

10 reasons why palm leaves turn brown or yellow (4)

Healthy palms are naturally resistant to insects and diseases, but can be attacked when under stress. The most common attackers are: scales, spider mites and mealybugs.

(Video) Why are your palm leaves turning yellow ?

Luckily, insect pests are more of a nuisance than a serious problem on palm trees. They hardly harm the palm trees and the palm tree usually grows out of any damage.

You have to count on the leaves to see if you can spot the insects. Get rid of the pests by spraying them with itinsecticidal soap.

10. Diseases

Various fungi cause the most common palm tree diseases. Ganoderma butt rot and Fusarium wilt are among them. In Fusarium, the leaflets wilt on only one side of the petiole of the oldest leavesturning foreheadn. Then a reddish ordark brownA stripe develops along the petiole. Both Ganoderma butt rot and Fusarium wilt have no treatment.

Another serious disease is fatal yellowing, which causes the leaves to change coloryellow, gray or brownStart with the old fronds, then move on to the new leaves.

There are also a number of leaf spot fungi that causeyellow or dark brownstains on leaflets. Most often, however, they develop on palm trees that are under stress. Eliminating the cause of stress can solve the problem. Also application ofFungicidal SpraysCopper hydroxide or copper salts of fatty acids can help.

Why is my newly planted palm tree turning brown?

I mentioned above that newly planted palm trees can experience β€œtransplant shock”. Transplant shock caused by roots being disturbed and exposed to air. During transplanting, your palm will lose a lot of roots, causing water stress.

Also, it will take time to adjust to the new soil, light and moisture levels. Therefore, it is not uncommon for the newly planted palm tree to turn yellow or brown or have drooping leaves. Although there is no way to prevent transplant shock, there are ways to minimize it by acclimating the palm to the new location.

You can acclimate the palm tree over a period of a few weeks by moving the pot to the new location and gradually increasing the light intensity. Also try to disturb the root ball as little as possible when you put the palm tree in the ground. It is not necessary to remove the old floor.

You should water it daily for the first week, every other day for the second, and then you can switch to its regular schedule. Deep watering works best! Avoid palm fertilizing for the first two months. if you followmy planting instructions, your palm will experience minimal transplant shock.

Should I cut off brown palm leaves?

10 reasons why palm leaves turn brown or yellow (5)

There are many articles online advising people to cut off brown tips or leaves as this will keep the palm from wasting nutrients on the dying leaf. Makes sense right? Not correct!

Palm trees need old leaves for nutrients, and cutting them off will stress your palm because palm trees are transporting nutrients, especially potassium (K), from the older fronds to the new growth.

Not all palm trees need pruning. Palm trees with crown stems, a smooth area at the top of the trunk created by tightly clasping leaf bases, should never be pruned as they naturally shed old brown leaves. They called "self-cleaning" palms.


A leaf will be green one day, fully orange-brown the next day, and fully brown on the third day if it should fall off on its own. It's a natural cycle.

Palms without a canopy have a very similar cycle, but the dead leaves cling to the trunk and may need to be pruned or removed manually.ONLY cut them off when they are completely brown and dry.

When trimming the fronds, trim as close to the stem as possible and DO NOT remove fronds that grow at an angle of 45 degrees or more. If your palm looks like a rooster's tail, you've pruned it too much.

By the way, accUniversity of FloridaResearch, removing palm blossoms or fruit results in increased leaf production rate.

If you cut a palm tree in half, will it grow back?

Some gardeners believe that cutting the palm in half encourages better root development and ultimately strengthens the palm. However, this is not the case.

If you cut the trunk of a palm tree in half, it won't grow back. Instead it will die. Palm trees cannot heal themselves if their trunk is injured.

The growing point of the palm, called the bud or heart, is near the top of the trunk and is connected to the vascular system. If you cut off the heart, the palm tree will die because it cannot produce another one.

Can brown palm leaves turn green again?

Although you can bring yoursdying palmbrought back to life, leaves become brown or yellowNEVER go green again. You have to wait for the palm tree to renew its crown to get rid of the damaged fronds. As I explained above, you can only remove brown leaves when they are completely dry.

Also keep an eye on the new growth emerging from the bud, also known as the "heart" of the palm tree. If it looks healthy and green, the problem is solved. If the tips of the newly emerging fronds start turning brown, the problem persists.

While there is nothing you can do about brown leaves, drooping leaves will return to their upright position once the problem is resolved.

Why do majesty palm leaves turn brown?

Majesty Palme(Ravenea rivularis) is a popular palm native to Madagascar, a large island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of South Africa, east of Mozambique. There it grows in wet areas such as river banks and damp valleys.

To reach her full potential, she needs plenty of water, good drainage, and plenty of fertilizer. This leads to a lack of nitrogenyellow leaves. It also likes full sun or partial shade. Underhydration or overhydration can cause itbrown tips/leaves.

(Video) 5 reasons for Areca Palm leaves tips turning brown & remedies

Due to its small size, it is also often used as an indoor palm. One of the most common problems with indoor growing is humidity requirements. Dry air will also cause spikes to startbrown.

When your majesty palm turnsbrown or yellow, start by reviewing daily essentials. See if you can provide it with an environment that is as close to its natural habitat as possible. Since Ravenea rivularis likes warm weather, protect it from sudden cold snaps.

Why my Areca Palm has brown tips and yellow spots

10 reasons why palm leaves turn brown or yellow (6)
10 reasons why palm leaves turn brown or yellow (7)

when you are indoorsAreca-Palmelooks like the picture above, has multiple overlap issues. The brown tips are the result of not enough water and low humidity. The yellow and brown spots are a sign of potassium and possibly magnesium deficiency. The defect is not very serious as there are no black spots yet.

how should i know Well, this areca palm has been in my mother's house for the last 7 years. So I know she forgets to water it regularly. It is also positioned right next to the bottom fan that blows hot air directly onto the plant.

Also, she has NEVER fertilized the palm and only recently transplanted it to a larger container. All I can say is that the Areca palm is a very hardy houseplant. lol By the way, I took it to my house and will try to restore its beauty.

Pictures of diseased palm leaves

10 reasons why palm leaves turn brown or yellow (8)


As you can see, an established palm will have different problems than onenewly plantedone. Mature palms do not have acclimatization issues such as new soil, moisture, or light conditions. It has been growing in this location for some time and is used to the environment.

The irrigation and drainage problems have already been solved. That being said, if you've noticed your palm turning brown or yellow, it's most likely a nutrient deficiency or cold injury.

Related articles:

–The 10 most common palm tree care mistakes and how to avoid them
–Top 10 Palm Planting Mistakes You Don't Want to Make
–The 5 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies in Palm Trees (with Pictures)
–Expert Tips: How and when to fertilize palm trees
–5 steps to saving a frost damaged palm tree

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