Palm Leaves Turning Brown (Causes and Solutions)

The potted palms make a classicand elegant option to your indoor plants collection, however, they are not without challenges.

Browning palm fronds can be an issue that is common and a concern for those who love indoor palms.

The browning of the palm leaf is usually caused by direct sunlight as well as watering. Lack of watering can cause the foliage turning brown as well as root rot and fungal diseases in plants. Palms damaged are more susceptible to insect infestations. Insect infestation, low humidity and nutritional deficiencies are all possible causes that could cause yellowing leaves.

Don’t be worried! It’s not a major problem, and I’ve created a simple guide for finding and treating your palm with brown leaves.

Diagnosing Your Palm

The palm of your potted plant can’t send you an official letter of complaint, therefore, when something is wrong, it is evident in the state of the leaves.

Different issues can affect the leaves in various ways. You are able to determine the root of the issue by looking closely at the leaves.

Examine your leaves. Are the browning beginning at the top of the fronds, and progressing to the back of the leaf? Are the leaves that are browning located in one place or spread all over the entire plant?

Are they even? Or is the browning more splotchy, like polka dots or speckles? Are the brownings hard and hard or is it smooth or oily to the touch?

Let’s look at the different kinds of browning can mean to your plants.

Natural Aging

It’s important to first understand that the browning of your palm’s older leaves is a natural process.

If the browning begins at the top of the oldest and lowest leaves, and expands until the entire leaf is dry and brown It is just the beginning of the leaf’s life span.

The palm grows upwards from the top, and new leaves emerging from the crown while the older ones wilt and die.

Based on the type of palm, the older leaves can be found at the bottom of the plant. They will be more pronounced and darker.

If you’re palm produces lots of healthy growth, the brown fronds at its base don’t have anything to be concerned about. Cut them down and compost.


However If your palm is turning brown from the tips upwards, equally across your plant, with no new growth, then your plants is in need of water.

Palms don’t hold much water in their leaves, therefore they are able to benefit from humid, but not wet soil.

Check out your medium for growing. Are you seeing dryness? Are the granules crumbling and loose or, even more importantly, dried into a single solid mass?

Take your saucepan up. Are you surprised by the lightness? These are all indications that you should get water.


Fortunately, palms that are not watered is a simple matter to treat. Simply give it a large portion of fresh, clean water.

The most effective method is to drink water from below. This is the best method to ensure that water gets deeply into the root mass of your palm, which is thirsty and dehydrated. Water from below:

  1. Put your palms in the tub or basin that is at least the depth of your pot’s height.
  2. Then fill your basin with water that has been filtered, distilled or rainwater until it’s about halfway up the top of the pot.
  3. The magic will begin to unfold: the soil in your pot is going to absorb the water and the level of the basin will drop. Fill it with water to keep an even level about halfway up the pot’s height.
  4. Once the water level has stabilized allow your hand to rest on the surface for at minimum 30 minutes.
  5. Remove your palm. Let any excess water evaporate before returning it to its original location.
  6. Make sure you check the cache pots, saucers or trays during the time following, and then empty any water that has accumulated. accumulate.

In the future, make certain to keep your palm hydrated regularly. Based on the species, you’ll need to water your palm when the upper inch or so of your growing medium is completely dry.

Based on the conditions and season It could happen every week or every month, but it is best to gauge the amount of dampness in your growing medium.

Many gardeners who are busy have a reminder set in their calendars on phones. I personally set aside about an hour every week to assess the soil the moisture of my indoor plants individually.

As I just make contact with the ground and feel it in a variety of depths, a moisture gauge is an excellent instrument for anyone who wants to get an accurate understanding of the soil’s conditions.

Over-watering and Root Rot

It’s one of the greatest paradoxes in indoor garden that both an unwatered plant and one that is overwatered typically share the same symptoms.

If the leaves turn brown together with the potting medium is damp, smells unpleasant, or your palm’s trunks as well as central stems are brittle or squishy, then your palm is being excessively watered, and has developed into root decay.

The roots of your palm in a pot require oxygen-rich pockets within the medium. If they don’t have enough oxygen the roots will drown and then die.

When the roots are out of the way, nutrients and water cannot reach the leaves, and they become dehydrated. This leaves your plant susceptible to many ailments.


The most important thing to do when dealing with the palm that has been overwatered is to determine the extent of excessive watering. If the browning is not too severe while the smell of fresh soil is evident, just take the watering container off and let the palm dry out.

Remove saucers or pots that are empty of water that is still in the pot so that the soil is able to drain. Some suggest covering around the base of your pot using an old cloth to drain any extra water.

I suggest you examine the root of your potted palm to see if there is damage. If you can, loosen the pot and then slide it out of your palm to examine the roots or scrape a bit of potting medium off the top.

If your roots appear to be soft, black or damaged, you’ll need to plant them again. Odors of foul smells are signs to look out for, since they are a sign of root rot.

Things to think about:

  • If you are repotting to repair damage to the root it is not necessary to use an extra pot. Actually, you might be advisable to reduce to a smaller size. The plant doesn’t require spaces that aren’t filled with air beyond the edges the root system.
  • The pot should have at least three drainage holes, but the larger the drainage holes, the better.
  • Potted plants don’t care about their potting medium provided it drains properly. A high-quality potting soil that is rich in organic matter like peat moss, coir or shredded bark is the best choice. If your palm is overwatered you can add perlite or sand to increase water flow in the near future.
  • If you find your roots are darkened and slimy, they’re decaying and require extra attention.
  • Clean them thoroughly Be sure to remove dead or dying areas with sharp scissors or shears that are clean.

Too Much Sunlight

The majority of inside palms, are tropical that have adapted to the dark forest floor and they are susceptible to sunburn.

However, even robust desert palms can be damaged by excessive direct sunlight. If you notice your browning appears abruptly and only appears only on one side or part within your plants, you need to examine the level of light.


The first step is to move your palm of the pot out of direct light. The changing seasons alter the direction and angle at the direction that sunlight shines on windows. Therefore, take care when putting your plants.

Unfortunately, for the sunburned frond, the harm is irreparable. However, unlike deficiency or disease the damage doesn’t affect the ability of your leaf to supply food to the plant.

If more than half the leaf remains green, it’ll complete the task So, keep it in the plant until it’s natural lifespan has expired.

Nutrient Deficiency

A lot of care guides tell that you not to overdo the fertilizer you apply to your palms and for good reason.

The majority of indoor palms are tall enough to be trees and a palm that is over-nourished grows into heights which are difficult to manage. However, it’s possible to get to far opposite direction and deprive your plant of its nutrients.

Every indoor plant requires regular fertilization. The small amount of medium they have inside their pots will only provide them with food for so long.

Palms, in particular, quickly are deprived of essential minerals. Here’s a list of most frequent deficiencies in nutrient which cause the yellowing and eventually browning of leaves.

Foliar fertilizers are applied directly onto the leaves. Minerals are taken up immediately and then put into use.

However, it is better to prevent than treatment. The majority of palms only require one treatment of slow release balanced fertilizer during the springtime in.

Even the ones like the areca palm which benefit from the benefits of fertilizer, they really only require another dose during the summer.

An excellent alternative is to utilize spikes for fertilizer in the palm. These spikes release slowly and are specially designed to meet the requirements of palms that are indoor. They’re great to get rid of the issues I’ve mentioned previously.

Fertilizer Burn

Since palms require very little fertilization, it’s very easy to overdo it and hurt the palms. If you’re generous, your palm’s poor plant will end up filling it filled with more nutrients than the plant could utilize.

They accumulate in the soil, and eventually leading to nitrogen accumulation in the soil , which damages the delicate roots.

Fertilizer burn lives up its name. The leaves will appear almost burned, with a yellow that has been bleached which will soon turn brown.

Another important indicator is the visible mineral salts that are visible on the surface of the medium for potting.


The most important thing to do to recover your palm that is over-fertilized is to rid the palm of any excessive minerals. For this, you must:

  1. Take all visible minerals off the surface of the medium for potting.
  2. Take your hand off of the cache pots, saucers or tray, and place it on a drain or the ground.
  3. Clean your plant using running water until the flow flows easily across the drain holes in the pot. Let the water run through for a couple of minutes.
  4. Take the water out and let the pot sit for 5 minutes. This gives any salt that remains the time it needs to dissolve.
  5. Repeat step 3.
  6. Let the pot completely drain before returning to the cache containers, saucers, or tray. After that, examine your hands regularly and tip off any water that might accumulate.


Here’s a list of some of the most likely culprits for the fronds turning brown.

False Smut

Also called the graphiola leaf spot infection causes black warts-like growths to appear all over leaf surfaces.

They can be described as “mushrooms”, the fruiting bodies of fungi that eat the insides leaves.

Fusarium Wilt

The unpleasant fungal infection is prevalent in palms that are housed in dry or colder conditions and can interfere the plant’s ability to use water.

Therefore, the symptoms are similar to the effects of under-watering, with the older leaves drying up from the top of the frond towards the bottom.

If you’ve eliminated any issues regarding your watering routine however your palm still shows indications of dehydration, you may be a sign of fusarium will.

Ganoderma Butt Rot

Another fungal illness that causes Ganoderma to cause older fronds to wilt and turn brown, before they drooping along the trunk or stem of your palm.

The new growth is severely stunted and pale in hue. In extreme instances the entire crown could be rotting away. It often affects roots too.

Bud Rot

The black spots on your newly planted buds and fronds could be an indication that you’ve got bud decay. The cause is a range of pathogens, among them the deadly Phytophthora.

Older fronds can withstand the assault for a while before succumbing.

Leaf Spot Diseases

If the leaves you are browning are dotted with circles of yellow or brown speckles which are often oily, then your palm may be suffering from one of the pathogens that cause spots on your leaves.

It’s similar to a common cold that we all have that is caused by a variety of types of nasties, yet the result is the same: spotty, sickly leaves.

How to Prevent and Treat Palm Diseases

To avoid disease It is essential to maintain your plant in good health. Make sure it is fertilized and watered properly, and at the proper amount of light that is appropriate for the species.

Avoid irrigation of the plants’ crown. If you are in an outdoor area with lots of sunshine and breeze the water that accumulates in the crown quickly dries.

However, for indoor palms it’s an ideal recipe for catastrophe. The moisture that is trapped in the smallest, weakest portion of the plant is an ideal playground for pathogens which cause illness.

Do not water your palm by its crown. The watering method from below (as described in the previous paragraph) is the best strategy for palms.

If you find this process too slow, make sure your water is located at the bottom of the plant, not by the leaf.

If all your efforts are unsuccessful and your palm becomes sick, the treatment is likely to be similar.

  • Plants suffering from disease should be quarantined immediately to stop the spread.
  • Prune your fronds carefully to remove sickly ones and leaves, with the exception of your crown. The leaves that are diseased should be removed from the household garbage , and not composted. If infections are caught in the early stages, this could be enough to keep your plant alive.
  • For more serious illnesses, you can consider using an occulticide containing copper.
  • Certain diseases, such as fusarium wilt and phytophthora and fusarium wilt, are resistant to treatment. If treatment fails, it is time to say goodbye to your plant suffering and eliminate it completely including the pot and everything else.


One of the most peculiar issues your indoor plants could suffer from is edema, which is an illness caused by excessive water retention in your plant’s body.

Based on your species of fish, the palm could have areas of quirkiness the otherwise solid trunks and stems as well as blisters, welts and welts that are soft and mushy, or those that become hard because the cells inside expand and break.

If the brown undersides of your palm fronds have small, irregularly shaped lumps and blisters that are equally across the plant, you could be suffering from swelling.


Fortunately, edema is simple to treat. All you need to do is let your plant dry out. The cause of edema can be traced to excessive water, therefore easing down on the watering is the only remedy needed.

Frost Damage

Although some palms are resistant to cold temperatures but none of them are resistant to frost. They are all tropical and require warm temperatures to flourish.

If your leaves have been frozen, they will initially display brighter, more vibrant parts of green as chlorophyll in damaged cells becomes more apparent. Then, those areas will turn become brown and die.

Prevention and Treatment

If a frond becomes damaged by frost, there’s nothing you can do to fix it. Cut off any damaged leaves.

To avoid damage from frost in the future Avoid placing your hands close to windows during the colder seasons, and be aware of the flow of air.

A cold draft in an unheated hallway can lead to catastrophe. Be sure to keep your hands in a warm part of your home.

Based on the species, the majority of palms like to be kept between 50and 80 degrees (10-26 degC) throughout the year.

Low Humidity

Plants lose water through their leaves, the process known as transpiration. It’s similar to how we lose moisture through our breath.

If you maintain the palms in a low humidity, they suffer from a loss of moisture and the leaves become dry in the middle.

Browning that extends all the edges of the older leaves could be the result of a lack of humidity.

The forceful air conditioning and heating systems in homes will pull water from your air, and dry the plant.


The amount of humidity needed by palms can vary significantly based upon the type of palm.

The kentia and parlor palms will be content with a low humidity of 40percent however, other species like cattails like 55% and more.

It is important to determine the type of palm you have looking at your humidity.

However, it’s difficult to create a palm that is overly humid. So, try to get the maximum amount of humidity your environment is able to handle.

An excellent strategy is to increase the humidity of your plants. By putting them in groups, you can trap the moisture that evaporates and allow your palms to form their own pockets of moist air.

An humidifier that can be purchased on Amazon is great to maintain the humidity levels.

Pebbles are another alternative to increase humidity. For making one:

  • Make a tray that is shallow with large stones and pebbles.
  • Use clean water to the area until they are almost submerged.
  • Place the tray in front of your plants or place the tray on the stone’s surface.
  • When the water evaporates it creates more humidity in the air. Make sure you keep it in good condition to get the optimal outcomes.

Insect Infestation

Even the most well-maintained indoor plants collection can be a victim of insects from time to time. Here’s a gallery of rogues that showcases the most frequent offenders.

Spider mites

These tiny pests are small and similar to pinheads. Although they are difficult to detect and avoid, they create gossamer webs in the palm fronds. They are fond of hiding in the nooks and crevices of your palm and suck the sap out of your poor palm.

Mealy bugs

Mealybugs are a family of insects that create puffy, sometimes puffy shells to shield themselves.

If it appears that you’ve been sprayed with cotton fluff or icing sugar, you may be suffering from an infestation of mealybugs.

Palm Aphids

Small bugs that have a hankering for sap, these frights are quick to eat the life out of your plant.

They can be found hiding hidden under leaves or within the palms of your fingers.

Scale Insects

The hard, shiny lumps that appear on the palm might not belong to the plant They are scales created by pests. The insects hide beneath the scales, removing the sap from your plant.

Controlling Pests

If they are caught early, they’re simple to be treated. Cleaning each tiny food-like bug or scale insect off your hand with cotton tips that has been soaked in spirit is a good idea and is as effective as spraying aphids and spider mites off with a gentle shower or with a hose.

However, more severe infestations require more drastic actions. You should quarantine your plant and apply an insecticide to the surface.

Neem oil is a popular choice spray that is sprayed on the plant’s canopy every five days until the problem is gone.

Do I need to cut off the Brown palm leaves?

We tend to keep indoor plants in order to appreciate the beauty of their elegant, fringed fronds therefore the desire to take away the brown leaves is powerful.

Older leaves that die off naturally may be cut and the fronds of leaves that are diseased or severely damaged.

In general it is best to leave your palms be. Some browning around the tips or at the edges of the frond won’t hinder your palm from using it to photosynthesise.

The process of growing new leaves can be taxing and it’s a good idea to not over-stress your palm when cutting it.

Browning is a normal part of the life of a palm. Make sure it is well-watered and fertilized as needed and free of hazards and insects and you’ll enjoy years of enjoyment from its leaves.

Fortunately, even an imperfect palm frond can bring its own unique appeal to any room that is fortunate enough to have it.



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)