Has your Palm tree gradually stopped growing and started exhibiting sickly-looking or decaying leaves? Maybe your Palm tree could be dying from environmental stress.
Read further to find out what may kill your Palm trees, how to identify ailments and proven ways to revive them.
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How to Revive a Dying Palm Tree? [Causes & Solutions]
Palm trees are known as long-lasting and sturdy plant species with strong resistance against environmental change and negligence.
In fact, they were the favorite plant in the Mesopotamian Empire because they could be left off for a long time without dying.
However, dead Palm trees stand for twelve months before falling over the ground.
Therefore, watch for dramatic changes in your Palm tree, which can be telltale signs of something grave.
Learn the early warning that Palm tree is dying, so you can take proactive measures to revive them.
1. Poor Soil Condition
Let us start with the Palm tree’s most common cause of early death: poor soil condition.
Palm trees do not enjoy highly moist or dried soil as their deep, fibrous roots require porous soil to anchor and absorb water, oxygen, and nutrients.
So, using a not-so-well-draining soil type or too-acidic soil mix will stunt the Palm tree growth altogether.
Look out for telltale signs of nutrient deficiency and stunted growth in your plant, including:
- Yellowing and browning fronds
- Wilting and decaying leaves
- Lack of new development (height, fronds, and leaves)
Although rare, poor soil drainage can lead to root rot because Palm trees store water in their roots during drought.
Therefore, compact soil mix with less organic content is a total No-No.
How to mend soil condition
- Start with testing the soil pH using a pH meter, where the correct pH is between 6.5 and 7.5.
- Add lime powder or dolomite to the soil to deacidify it.
- Replace the compact soil with something lighter and well-draining (cacti or any commercial mix) for a potted Palm tree.
- Cut the affected leaves using a sterilized pruning shear but avoid cutting the fronds or treetop as it inhibits growth.
- Improve soil drainage for outdoor Palms by adding drainage tiles, using raised beds, or installing French drains.
2. Low or High Humidity
Palm trees are humidity-loving plants because they hail from tropical regions abundant in humidity and warm temperatures.
They prefer a humidity level between 40-60% around the year.
Another reason the Palm tree prefers a slightly higher humidity level because it lacks Cambium, a protective layer that keeps the tree wood from drying.
The tree trunk will quickly dry and is prone to damage without humidity, leading to slowed growth, leaf drop, and brown tips.
How to fix low humidity
- Group your Palm tree with other houseplants to naturally increase the humidity.
- Otherwise, place a room humidifier near the Palm tree.
- Occasional misting every week, especially in summer, and regular watering will help prevent low humidity.
- Alternatively, place your potted Palm tree on a pebbled tray filled with water to get humidity from evaporation.
Similarly, excessive humidity can lead to fungal growth, root rot, and pest problems in Palm trees.
The fungal growth often invites many problems, including decayed leaves, root rot, and stunted growth.
In any case, your Palm tree will suffer and eventually die unless treated on time.
How to fix high humidity
- Improving air circulation and soil moisture is the key to preventing fungal growth.
- Place the plant in an open, warm area away from the draft.
- Inspect the plant for fungal growth or root rot, treat it with fungicide, and replace the soil promptly.
- Cut back on watering until the plant seems to revive.
3. Nutrient Deficiency
Palm trees are not heavy feeders, except oil Palm trees, but they require a steady diet of balanced nutrients around the growing season.
The lack of any or most of these nutrients can affect the plant’s growth, including root development and photosynthesis.
Mainly, they are fond of these nutrients.
|Nitrogen||Necessary for the development of leaves and stems|
|Phosphorus||Forms strong roots and healthy flowers and fruit|
|Potassium||Overall root development, water regulation, and disease resistance|
|Magnesium||Essential for photosynthesis and chlorophyll production|
|Iron||Forms chlorophyll, which is necessary for photosynthesis|
Beware of signs like stunted growth, yellowing or browning of the leaves, and slowed growth, indicating undernutrition.
Luckily, the under-fertilized Palm tree can be treated through proper fertilization.
How to treat under-fertilized Palm trees
- Conduct a soil test to determine the low nutrient(s) before applying the fix.
- Choose an appropriate fertilizer rich in particular nutrients, such as 3-1-3, 13-5-11, or 4-2-4.
- Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and well-distribute around the base of the tree.
- Water the tree thoroughly upon applying the fertilizer to help boost nutrient reach.
- Repeat the process once or twice a year, depending on the species and requirement.
- Otherwise, apply a balanced palm fertilizer twice or thrice a year to prevent the risk of under-fertilization.
Not all Palm trees respond positively to the fertilizer treatment, requiring an expert diagnosis.
4. Fertilizer Burn
As previously mentioned, most Palm tree species grown at homes do not enjoy heavy feeding; hence they are likely to suffer when overfertilized.
Excess or regular fertilizing often leads to fertilizer burn and other issues that might even kill the plant.
Here is a catch! Palm trees retain most nutrients from the topsoil. When you apply excess fertilizer, the residue will rest above the roots and burn the trunk.
You will often find yellowed, wilted, or decayed leaves and stunted growth due to nutrient choke.
Therefore, the key is to apply the right plant food 1-3 times a year; spring, summer, and fall.
How to treat overfertilized Palm trees
- Remove excess nutrients from the soil by scraping off the top soil and replacing it with fresh potting mix.
- Otherwise, leech out fertilizer by watering Palm trees deeply for several hours.
- Allow the soil and plant to dry out before watering again.
- Remove browned, damaged, and yellowed leaves to reduce stress on the plant.
- Apply a light dose of balanced fertilizer to replace any lost nutrients.
- Continue applying regular doses only after two to three months to allow the plant to recover fully.
5. Improper Watering
Palms are thirsty plants because they boast a significant leaf surface area and transpire regularly throughout the day.
Additionally, their fibrous roots constantly absorb moisture from the soil to supply to the entire plant, quickly drying them.
If your plant fails to get enough water, it will experience drought, affecting its ability to produce chlorophyll or food.
Similarly, overwatering the plant will drown the fibrous roots and invite root rot or leaf spot problems.
Both under and overwatering will exhibit telltale signs and problems.
|Water stress can lead to stunted growth, wilting, and discoloration||Overwatering will invite yellowing leaves and soft or mushy stems|
|They are prone to leaf bronzing bacteria and pest infection||The fungal disease becomes prominent in the waterlogged soil|
|The leaves and fronds will dry and curl up||The fronds will yellow and eventually turn brown before wilting|
How to treat under-watered Palm trees
- Water the Palm tree deeply and slowly to help the roots absorb water.
- Check the soil by sticking your finger into it. It should be moist but soaking wet.
- Add a layer of mulch (bark or wood chips) around the base to help retain maximum moisture in the soil.
- Monitor the plant’s recovery for the next few weeks. Check for perky and green leaves for positive growth.
- The plant continues to wilt or turn brown may indicate irreversibility damage.
How to treat overwatered Palm trees
- Cut back on watering and inspect for root rot issues by removing the plant from the soil to check for damage.
- Prune off dark, mushy, and smelly roots, apply fungicide, and repot in a fresh potting mix.
- Remove any damaged or yellowed leaves to improve air circulation.
- Wait and monitor for a few weeks before watering. Continue watering only after the leaves turn green or produce new growth.
Tip: Always use filtered water and water Palm tree every 1-3 times a week depending on the temperature and season.
6. Temperature Stress
Palm trees thrive in warm temperatures around the year, which mimics their natural tropical habitat.
The ideal temperature is between 70 and 80°F during the day and 60°F at night, such as in Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana.
Palm trees are prone to frost damage when temperatures drop too low. The leaves turn brown or black with stunted growth.
In severe cases, the entire Palm tree may die. Therefore, growing Palm trees in a colder location is definitely a no!
How to revive cold-stressed Palm trees
- Cover your plant with a blanket or tarp to protect it from further cold exposure.
- Move the plant to a sunny and warm location around the house during the day.
- Cold-stressed Palm trees may be dehydrated, so slowly provide water around the tree’s base.
- Removed damaged foliage to redirect energy toward healthy growth.
- Fertilize only after the plant begins to show signs of recovery.
Similarly, the temperature rise may not be ideal for Palm trees because they are not cacti.
The Palm leaves will quickly transpire moisture and lose water content from the roots, leading to a high and dry plant.
The heat stress, usually above 95°F, will make leaves dry and brittle.
How to revive heat-stressed Palm trees
- Move the plant to a shade to protect it from heat, or use a shade cloth.
- Provide water deeply and slowly so the maximum moisture reaches the roots.
- Add a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or leaves, around the base of the plant.
- Heat-stressed Palm trees may take a few weeks to recover, so be patient.
- Fertilize with a balanced food once the plants start showing signs of recovery.
7. Pest Infestation and Disease
Palm trees are susceptible to a few pests that will attack the plant when they are weakest.
|Palm Weevils||-Large, dark-colored beetles bore into the trunk of the palm tree and lay their eggs
-Signs include wilting frond, trunk holes, and sawdust
|Spider Mites||-Spider-like creatures that can infest the leaves and fronds of the palm tree
-Infestation invites yellowing or browning fronds and webs
|Scale||-Small, oval-shaped insects that attach to the leaves and stems
-They sap the suck, causing the leaves to turn yellow and die.
|Mealybugs||-Soft-bodied insects that feed on the sap of the palm tree.
-Signs include yellowing and browning of foliage
How to remove pest infestation on Palm trees
- The first treatment is to remove damaged and affected foliage to prevent further spread.
- Apply neem oil or systemic insecticide on the palm fronds and leaves to kill the pests effectively.
- For severe Palm weevil damage, remove and destroy your plant immediately.
- Applying miticide and horticultural oil to the affected area will help treat spider mites and mealybugs.
Like pest infestation, the Palm tree suffering from poor soil drainage, waterlogging, nutrient deficiency, and unhealed wounds can invite various diseases.
Watch for common Palm tree fungal diseases and their vivid signs.
|Fusarium Wilt||-It is a fungal diseases that invites yellowing and wilting of fronds
-Untreated wilt causes eventual death of the tree
|Ganoderma butt rot||-A fungal disease that causes the lower trunk of palm tree to soften and turn mushy
-Untreated wounds and holes are more likely to attract this disease
|Leaf Spot||-Leaf spot is common fungal disease that invites brown or black spots on the palm fronds
-Check for premature yellowing and defoliation to suspect this disease
|Phytophthora bud rot||-It causes the bud of the palm tree to rot, leading to the death
of the tree
-It is more common in a few geographical areas
|Thielaviopsis trunk rot||-It causes the palm tree trunk to blacken and turn brittle
-It is more common in a few geographical areas
How to treat diseases on Palm trees
- Applying a copper fungicide to the affected areas can help stop the spread.
- Remove infected fronds and leaves and destroy them from the plant to remove the disease.
- Trim the root, apply fungicide, and Change the soil mix to fresh if the fungus has advanced to the roots.
- Research the Palm tree diseases common in your USDA zone before planting a Palm tree.
- Get diseases resistant Palm trees from local or online stores.
- Always maintain good soil drainage and occasional fertilizing and avoid waterlogged issues.
From Editorial Team
Palm trees make quite sturdy plants but are still not free from problems.
Regularly inspect our Palm tree leaves, trunk, and soil to detect problems and keep proper watering, fertilizing, and pruning practices in check.
Most Palm tree problems can be prevented by identifying the issues early and applying quick fixes.