Palm Tree Q&A

While this Q&A page may not cover all the questions, I’ve compiled answers to the most frequently asked ones. I always welcome your inquiries, so if you have a palm tree care question, please feel free to reach out.

Many homeowners may not be aware that proper palm tree care begins with selecting the right palm tree. Another critical step in successful palm tree growth is planting it promptly while minimizing transplant shock.

Maintaining a consistent watering and fertilizing schedule will help ensure the health and resilience of your palm, enabling it to withstand cold temperatures during the winter months. If you follow these guidelines, you’re guaranteed to enjoy a beautiful palm tree.

How to Choose a Palm Tree?

The most important considerations when choosing a palm tree are its type, location, and purpose. First, think about where in your backyard you intend to plant it and what role it will play—whether as a focal point, for creating a boundary, or simply providing shade. Next, depending on its intended function, select the appropriate palm tree type.

What Should I Know About Planting a Palm?

Planting a palm tree is nearly as straightforward as planting a regular tree. Keep the roots consistently moist and aim to plant it as soon as possible. I recommend acclimating your tree to reduce transplant shock.

Use good-quality soil, create a barrier, and apply mulch to prolong soil moisture retention. Remember that newly planted palms require frequent watering.

What to Do if My Palm Tree Is Dying?

Many plant owners resort to cutting fronds, transplanting the palm, and increasing watering when their palm tree shows signs of decline. However, this may not be the best approach.

It’s essential to identify the underlying problem before taking action, as there can be various reasons for a palm tree’s decline. These may include over-watering, inadequate watering, nutrient deficiencies, fertilizer burn, sunburn, cold damage, insect infestations, and more.

Each issue manifests with different symptoms. Consider yourself a diagnostician, like a doctor diagnosing a patient’s ailment. Determine the problem before attempting any remedies, as incorrect interventions can exacerbate the situation and further stress your palm tree.

How to Water Your Palm Tree Correctly?

Most palm trees prefer soil that is consistently moist but well-drained. Established palm trees should typically be watered around three times a week, and deep watering is the most effective method.

Evening is the best time for watering. If you’re uncertain about your soil’s moisture levels, use a moisture meter to measure them. If you have extra time, consider misting the palm with water.

What Fertilizer Should You Use?

I prefer using slow-release formula fertilizer a few times a year, with the best times being during the growing season. Avoid fertilizing newly planted palms, and ensure that the fertilizer isn’t placed too close to the trunk to prevent burning.

How to Protect Your Palm Tree from Cold?

I always recommend using a cold-protecting spray when you know a cold snap is on the way. Additionally, fertilizing your palm during the growing season can help make it more resilient.

Applying mulch around the base will protect the roots, and during cold nights, you can use warm covers, heaters, or lights around the tree. Spraying it with “copper fungicide” can also help fend off bacterial and fungal infections.

How to Save a Cold-Damaged Palm Tree?

Saving a cold-damaged palm tree can be challenging. If the bud, the area where the fronds grow from, is damaged, the palm tree is unlikely to survive, and there’s little that can be done.

However, if the bud remains intact, there’s a chance it can recover. Begin by trimming away the dead branches. Then, apply copper fungicide spray to prevent bacterial and fungal attacks.

Avoid fertilizing the palm, as it can add to its stress. Keep up with regular watering. It may take up to a year for the tree to fully recover. For more detailed guidance on saving a cold-damaged palm tree, you can refer to my article on the topic.

Questions From Readers

Below are some questions from the readers of my site. I thought it would be a great idea to include them on this page.

How to Divide European Fan Palms?

Question: We live in Seattle, WA, and have two European fan palms in containers on our deck. These palms have outgrown every pot we’ve been able to buy and they are now about 6’ tall and ready to be planted in the ground next to the deck where they’ve been living for the last couple of years.

The palms have each produced a couple of extra trunks and plants. Can these be divided or should the whole potted plant be planted in the ground and not divided? My instinct is to just transplant them intact and not take a change on ruining these beautiful plants but my husband thought they might be dividable.

Answer: You can divide a European Fan Palm as long as you can do it without causing harm to the main trunk. However, if multiple trunks have already developed over time, separating them without significant damage can be challenging.

If you want to avoid the risk of harm, it’s advisable to plant the entire palm as is. It’s typically easier to separate offsets before they have developed a trunk. Here is an article I wrote on transplanting a palm tree from a container into the ground.

How to Save a Cold-damaged Coconut Palm?

Question: Hi Susan. I have a big 12-year-old Coconut Palm. After a hard winter the palm became brown and drooped down to the ground. I cut them off. But now the brown dying look is progressing to the top. I don’t know what to do. Should I water a lot with Epsons salt? My neighbor across the street has 2 palm trees and one is almost all brown. Any quick suggestions? Thank you for your help.

Answer: Coconut Palm Trees can’t tolerate temperatures below 20F. I would even say 25F is too cold for them. They are warmth-loving palms that grow best in zones 10-11.

Even mature palms have a hard time tolerating low temperatures. At this point, there is not much you can do. There is no quick way of fixing it. Keep watering your palm. Don’t cut the leaves unless they are completely dry or if you see that they are rotting.

The most important part of the palm is its bud. If the bud is damaged by cold, your palm will most likely die. If bud was not damaged, it should recover, but it might take over 6 months.

Fertilizing will not help. It could put even more stress on your palm. Cold damage palms have weaker immune systems and could get fungus infection. To prevent that from happening spray the palm with Copper Fungicide.

Why Are My Sylvester Date Palms Dying?

Question: Hi there. 6 weeks ago I bought 16 2&3ft Sylvester Date Palms. Its been hell keeping them alive! I have sandy well drained soil. One died and was replaced 2 are on life support. All have new green shoots coming from the center. The problem is that the outer and some new shoots have died and the outer die about a third from the end looks horrible.

Yesterday I trimmed all the brown and today more brown! Should I trim a partly brown limb? Today I concluded that the problem might have been the continuous watering with house water which is soft water with 3ppm chlorine in it.

So I switched to well water which is very hard with lots of lime and Iron in it. Could this have been it? The tree farm said to keep them tied but the brown outers were keeping light from the new center growth so I untied them. Help! Thanks.

Answer: There are a few things that could be happening. They could have been planted too deep, or not acclimatized for the area (if you live in a colder climate), or the watering schedule is wrong.

It is hard to figure out from a distance. Palms usually lose a lot of roots during transplanting. Few roots that are left have to work extra hard to provide the palm with enough water until it develops a new root system.

They should be watered every day for the first week and every other day for the second week. Here is my article on palm watering. Don’t cut brown leaves, palms use them for nutrients. Just water them with well water. Fertilizing will not help.

Why Are Newly Planted Pindo Palms Turning Brown?

Question: Two weeks ago I purchased 4 Pindo Palms. They were planted properly in an area that has good drainage. They have been maintained per the instructions I was given which was to water them 3 times a week watering them per the tree gallons (ours are 30-gallon trees).

I have ensured that the fronds are not watered due to sunburning and turning the fronds brown. I have noticed a few, not many fronds on two of my trees turning brown. Should I be worrying?

Answer: Palm trees often experience “transplant shock” because they lose a lot of roots during transplanting and have to rely on a few roots to supply them with water until the new root system is developed.

I wouldn’t worry at this point. Don’t trim the leaves. Let them naturally die. You can cut them when they are completely dry. Keep watering. It should be fine.

How to Save an Over-fertilized Palm?

Question: Hi. I read your notes on fertilization and I feel certain the tree got fertilizer close to the roots. This winter was bitter cold (Jacksonville, fl) and some of the tips of the fronds got frozen I think, but now all the fronds have crispy brown tips moving toward the middle of the frond.

I can’t tell if the new shoots in the middle are brown as well. It has been raining a lot, but it’s super dry these days. Should we cut the fronds? It may have also been over-fertilized. Is there anything we can do to ameliorate the problem? Thanks!

Answer: It sounds like your palm was damaged by cold and over-fertilized. Over-fertilizing can kill your palm. You need to water it a lot for a few days to wash out the fertilizer.

Cold-damaged palms are very hard to treat. Fertilizing will not help. It might take palm over 6 months to recover. The only thing you can do is wait. Make sure you have a regular watering schedule and protect it from cold.

How to Treat Cold-Damaged Foxtail Palms?

Question: Hi. I have 3 Foxtail Palms that are approx. 15 feet tall. They were planted approx. 3 years ago. I live in Florida and as you know we had a long, cold winter. All of the branches were brown, so we trimmed all of them off. There is new green growth coming out of the top.

The problem is, the new branches seem very weak. They will come out and then either fall over (hanging against the trunk) or break off about 6-8 inches from the top. Could you suggest anything that I could do to prevent this? Anything that would make the tree branches stronger? Thanks for your help!

Answer: Sorry to hear about your palm trees. There is little you can do. Since there is a new growth, I think your palms will survive. It might take them a full year to recover. Keep watering and protect them from cold during winter.

Florida doesn’t get a lot of cold days but those cold snaps can do even more damage than just cold temperatures. When it gradually gets colder every day, palms have enough time to adjust to the winter season and slow down their process.

When it is a sudden cold, palms are not prepared and that is why the cold damage can be greater. Here is more info on how to protect palm trees from the cold.

Why is My Red Latan Palm Turning Black?

Question: I have a Red Latan Palm. Recently, the new shoots are underdeveloped, turning black at the tips and opening early. The recent fronds that have developed more fully have turned black at the base of the stalk. It almost appears to be a magnesium deficiency or a frizzle top problem that you might see in a Queen Palm.

Are these susceptible to the same condition? Do you have any advice as to whether I can try something to save this tree? It is just starting to achieve some size and has enjoyed healthy growth for a few years until now. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

Answer: I don’t think it is a frizzle-top problem. This sounds like a fungal infection. You should prune infected fronds and discard them. Spray the palm with Bonide Products Copper Fungicide.

This is a great product that helps to prevent fungal infections from spreading. If this is an indoor palm, keep away from other plants.

How Do I Save Cold-Damaged Windmill Palms?

Question: I have 2 palms that are 7 years old and about 15 feet tall. They have not produced any leaves so far this year, by this time they would be going crazy. We are in TX and we had a cold winter this year with temps below freezing for 4 days or more.

The wind beat all the old dead leaves so this year it started with no dead to draw from. Is it in shock? Will they start to grow this year or next, or have we lost them? The trunk and the rest of the tree look good. Can you help?

Answer: I am very sorry to hear about your Windmill Palms. A lot of people lost palm trees due to cold winter. The survival of your palms depends on how sever the cold damage is. If the bud was not damaged, the palms should survive. If the bud is badly damaged, it might die.

From what you telling me, your trees should recover. Since they have been damaged by the cold, their immune system might be weak creating an opportunity for fungus and insects to attach. Spray your palm with Bonide Products Copper Fungicide. This should keep the fungal infections away.

Also, make sure to protect your palm from cold. Since your palms are already weak, they don’t need more cold damage. There are a few ways you can do it. Here is my article on how to protect palm trees from the cold.

How to Save a Dying Dwarf Date Palm?

Question: Hi there. I bought a Dwarf Date Palm Tree today it was marked for 50.00 pounds down to 25.00.  However, it looked poorly. The leaves are turning brown in the middle top of the plant and some at the lower are brown and dropping. 

It is about 3 feet in height and has been kept in a small plant pot of about 3 gallons. I offered them 15.00 and took it home. It looks so lovely and I know it would be a great plant if I could revive it back round to its potential healthy self. What should I do? How do I save it?

Answer: I think there was a reason why it was on sale. The first thing is to make sure it has good soil and the container has good drainage. Palm trees like moist but well-drained soil. If not, by good quality soil mix that does not have added fertilizer.

Soil mixed with fertilizer very often can burn palms roots. You need to get a fast draining soil. A regular water schedule will help to provide it with enough water.  Palms also love misting.

Date Palm Trees like full sun, but they need to be slowly acclimatized to high light levels. Put it in a place with a lot of natural light, but no direct sunlight. Somewhere near the window would be great. Palm trees are very sensitive and need some time to adapt to a new home. After a few weeks, you can apply a good quality slow-release fertilizer.

What to Do With a Hole in the Coconut Palm?

Question: I live in Miami, FL, and have had my Coconut Palms for over 12 years now. In 1992 during Hurricane Andrew a missile composed of a piece of someone’s roof pierced one of the Coconut Palm trees to a depth of about 3/4’s of its diameter.

I later extricated the missile and the tree seemed to ignore the fact that it had been damaged. It continues to grow similar to the rate of the other 5 Palms and produces its fair share of coconuts.

However, I noticed recently that some birds have built a nest in the hole which has become something like a cave in the middle of the tree.

Is there something that I should do to close off the hole in the tree? If so, should I pack the hole with something that would be beneficial for the tree? If not, are there any tell-tale signs that I should watch for that would tell me to get ready to replace this tree because the damage is finally going to cause the demise of this tree? Thank you so much for any advise that you could provide.

Answer: I think your palm will be fine. It is best to spray the cut with fungicide right after the damage happens. But since your Coconut Palm has survived, I don’t think anything should happen to it.

However, you should watch out for those birds and other insects that might think your tree is a great place to make a new home. I would not cover the hole, but you should definitely treat it with some bird-repellent product. Just keep an eye on it. If you notice insects, get rid of them right away.

How to Transplant a Ponytail Palm?

Question: I have a 30-year-old, 12′ Ponytail Palm that a previous homeowner planted in an awkward place, too close to our patio and I believe it may be causing the cracking in the patio. I’d love to save it and move it to another location in the yard but have real concerns about the effort involved and the tree’s chances of survival.

The only access to the back yard, without removing significant amounts of other landscaping, is through a 3′ wide gate. I’m hoping you can offer some advise, as my husband keeps threatening to fire up the chainsaw. Thanks.

Answer: Ponytail Palm is one of my favorite palm trees and I would be very sad to see it being chopped. Definitely try to save it. If the palm is over 30 gallons you will need some kind of heavy equipment, like a tractor or a crane. It sounds like there is not a good entrance into the back yard for the machines.

You could hire a team of strong guys who will be able to lift the palm and move it. When a palm gets transplanted, it loses part or all of the roots. It needs as much time as it can get to establish new roots before the winter comes. That is why I recommend doing all the transplanting in early Spring or Summer.

Start by removing 1/2 of the leaves from the palm. Also, tie the fronds together. Next, get the soil moist prior to digging it out.  Palm roots extend as far as the leaves of the palm. When digging, leave about 2-3 feet around the trunk and down. After lifting the palm, plant it as soon as possible.

Make sure roots don’t dry out in between digging and planting. You can wrap it with a damp tarp. Be very careful not to damage too many roots and the bark. I wrote a very detailed step-by-step article on transplanting palm tree from one location to another.

How to Care for Palm Trees After Drought?

Question: I am in Coastal NC and have a mature palm in front yard. It has been doing very well for the past 5-6 years until now. We are in a drought situation and I was out of town for 2 weeks, with no one watering it. I realize that is probably the problem.

My question is: will simply going back to watering regularly save this palm or do I need to take extra measures? Some of the palms on the top are turning brown and the rest of the palms are still green but kind of droopy. I am not sure of the species, but it has the palms that look like a fan/or an open hand. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Answer: Most palm trees like moist well-drained soil. Deep watering works the best. Check to see how moist the soil stays after watering and adjust the watering schedule accordingly. You can also put some mulch on top to prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.

I know that brown tips and droopy fronds don’t look pretty, but don’t trim them until they are completely brown and dry. Palms use nutrients from dying leaves and if you cut them, palms will lose all those nutrients.

Canary Island Date Palm Trunk Problem

Question: Please help, I have a seven-year-old palm approx, 20′ tall that over the last few months has developed a light spiral flakiness/dry area starting about 4′ from the base and circling the trunk upward for about 2′. The dryness, cause the area of the trunk to lightly flake off.

In the beginning, I thought the first area of concern was caused by the tree maintenance company ladder being leaned against the trunk, and then I noticed the same appearance spiraling up the trunk.

No one can identify what this problem could be. There are NO growths on the trunk, it appears to be more of a disintegrating of the bark. Thank you for any knowledge of a problem of this kind.

What to Do with Windmill Palm That is Too Tall?

Question: Hi. I have a question about the Windmill Palm we have outside our house. It is somewhere around 18-20 years old as we can figure out, and it is now so tall the top is hitting the awning and gutter that comes out from the roof. We are concerned with the damage the palm may do to the house as it continues to grow.

We are wondering if it is possible to chop the top of the palm off, or it this will kill it. It we are unable to prune it down from the top, we will definitely have to get rid of it somehow, and we are just trying to avoid just getting rid of it completely because it is such a neat plant. If you had any advice on what the damage would be we chopped off the top, that would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Answer: Hi. The most important part of the palm tree is its bud. If you chop the top off, the palm tree will die. The only option would be moving this palm to a different spot. It usually very hard to move large palms and will require some heavy-duty equipment. Also, palm trees often go into a shock after transplanting and can die.

Pygmy Palm is covered with white spots

Question: We have a triple trunk Robellini Palm in our screened in pool area in Orlando. It has been beautiful for years. In the last few months (noticed mid July) the fronds have lots of small white spots, then get covered in what looks like black ash or soot and eventually die.

The trunk area is becoming black and even the stones outline the area. We have tried Volck oil spray four times a few weeks apart. I cut off the worse leaves, mostly at the bottom but now the new growth at the top has the little white spots appearing. Please offer advice on what to apply. Thank you.

Why Is My Palm Tree Turning Yellow?

Question: I bought a home with a large palm tree that looks like it would be called a pineapple palm because of it’s shape and the limbs have gone from green to yellow in about 8 months while I was up north.

I know from neighbors that this tree has been here for at least 12 years or more, I don’t know what to do about this problem, any help would be helpful. Thank you.

Answer: There can be so many reasons why your palm is not feeling well. There could be incorrect watering, nutrient deficiency, cold snaps, insects, diseases, etc. I would recommend starting with the watering. How much water is it getting? Is the soil moist enough? Was the summer too hot?

Inspect to see if there are any insects present or some sort of fungus. What fertilizer are you using? I would recommend using high-quality fertilizer with a slow-release formula. It could also be a cold winter. Here is an article I wrote on how to save a dying palm tree. ~Susan Brian

Why is My Newly-Planted Palmetto Palm Turning Brown?

Question: Hello. Wondering if you could help. My husband and I purchased two Palmetto Palms (about 15′) and had them planted about 2 weeks ago. One of them is doing really well, it is very and has new growth.

The other one is not doing as well, it seems to have turned a light brown color at the top. We have been watering them at least once a day. The weather here has been slightly cooler than usual in GA for this time of year (30s at night).

We were worried and the company we purchased from only gives a limited warranty. Just wanted to see if anyone may have some advice or know if there is any reason to worry. Thanks so much for your time!

Answer: It is not unusual for palm trees to experience “transplant shock“. Palm trees lose a lot of their roots when exposed to air and it takes them a while after transplanting to establish.

The few roots that are left work very hard to supply the water. That is why you have to water it so much during the first few weeks. Late Spring and Summer is the best time to plant a palm because it will give them enough time to establish before the cold days start.

From what you telling me, it sounds like one of the palms is experiencing “transplant shock”. There is nothing you can do. Just keep watering them. Make sure to protect them from cold snaps. These palms are not strong enough to survive. Here is one of my articles on how to protect palm trees from cold.

Is It Safe For Dogs to Eat Palm Tree Seeds?

Question: Hi Susan. I have a 4 month old puppy that seems to love eating the black/brown seeds that gather at the base of my palm tree. I’m not sure of the kind of palm tree it is, it is a very tall tree that has been there forever.

The seeds are about the size of a green pea and hard and crunchy. They haven’t made her sick but I want to make sure there won’t be any long-term effects from her eating them. Please, can you tell me if they may be toxic? I live in Daytona. Thank you.

Answer: I don’t think your puppy should be eating those seeds. Some palms like Formosa Palm, Cardboard Palm, and Sago Palm are poisonous. Puppies have very sensitive stomachs and should only eat their food.

I know your puppy likes it, but it probably chews on everything. I got a puppy myself a year ago and since then my floors have been perfectly clean. If anything drops to the floor, it is gone in 2 seconds. I recommend picking up the seeds and putting some kind of fence around that palm so your puppy can’t get to it.

How to Save a Palm Tree With a Broken Trunk?

Question: We were trying to move a small Ponytail Palm today, used a little too much pressure, and split the trunk. We are sick about this. I really like this Ponytail Palm. Is there anything we can do to save it? I put tape on it to hold the 4″ diameter trunk intact, which is probably not good, but we didn’t know what else to do.

Answer: There is not much you can do. After transplanting it will probably experience a “transplant shock” plus a broken trunk will weaken it. Leave a small piece of tape, so that air can get in and dry the wound.

Spray the trunk with Copper Fungicide to protect it from fungal infection. Watch out for insects. They might move into the trunk since there is an opening.

Can a Palm Tree Survive Without a Crown?

Question: Is there any way to save a palm tree that has had its crown knocked off? I don’t know what kind it is. The base is thick and it tapers to fronds growing tightly out of the crown.

My husband inadvertently knocked it off when trying to remove some dead fronds. It has a few spikes growing up from the crown. Can you offer any advice about how to selvage it or should we just dig up the base and put something else in that space?

Answer: The most important part of the palm is its bud. Bud is the place where new growth is coming from. If part of the bud is intact, the tree has a chance to survive. If the bud is gone, the palm will die. I am sorry to tell you this, but there is nothing really you can do.

How to Water Palms the Right Way?

Question: We have some young-ish palms down in the Baja on our property that we just bought and they are turning yellow. They are getting watered twice per week. Our neighbour’s palms are much healthier and they have a sprinkler system for watering.

Is it the slow drip watering systems that make the difference? Do you think those fertilizer sticks are helpful? The soil there is EXTREMELY dry and full of minerals. Thank you for any suggestions you might have.

Answer: Newly planted palm trees should be watered every day for the first week and every other day for the second week. After planting, palms lose a lot of roots. Those roots that are left need to supply palms with enough water.

That is why you should provide it with more water than usual for the first few weeks while they are establishing a new root system. Deep watering is when you slowly drip water over longer period of time. This method of watering gives soil more time to absorb water.

It is usually done with a sprinkling system. Another thing you should remember is that some palms can experience transplant shock after being planted. It is normal for the palm to have yellow or brown leaves. Give it some time to adjust to the new place.

Fertilizer sticks work very well. They have a slow-release formula that feeds palms with nutrients over time and will not wash away after the first rain. Make sure to buy good quality fertilizer. Don’t use cheap stuff because it doesn’t work.

How to Treat a Palm Tree Affected by Ganoderma Root Rot?

Questions: One of my Queen Palms has died as a result of Ganoderma. It has been recommended to have the tree removed in its entirety, including the roots. Do you have any idea how deep the roots on this tree might go? The tree is a good 15 years old and stands about 30 feet tall.

I also have 2 other Queen Palms in my yard. Should I be concerned? Is there anything we can do to proactively insure their continued livelihood? Also, can a plan for another Queen Palm in its place? Thank you.

Answer: Ganoderma Root is a very dangerous disease that is caused by Ganoderma zonatu fungus. There is no treatment against it. You just need to destroy the tree and the root system.

Roots of the palm usually don’t spread farther than the palm’s fronds. The fungus can survive in the soil, so I would not recommend planting another palm in its place.

Why is My Indoor Majesty Palm Tree Dying?

Question: Hi! Last year I bought a Majesty Palm Tree. It’s a regular indoor palm. After a few months of living, the leaves of the plant started becoming brown and dying off. I did that root pruning, but the plant hasn’t become better. It started as a very bushy plant and now has only 2 branches left. How can I salvage this palm?

Answer: Majesty Palm is not the best choice for the indoor palm. Kentia Palm grows much better indoors. Majesty Palm cannot live in the pot for too long. Max a few years. After that, it starts slowly to decline.

How old is your palm? I don’t think that your palm liked the root pruning. If you damage palm roots it might weaken the palm and give a great opportunity for the insects to attack.

Majesty Palm needs well-drained soil. If you live in the warm climate, your Majesty Palm might do much better outside. But if you damaged the root system too much, transplanting it outside not going to help. Don’t let it sit in the water. Read my articles on how to plant and take care of palm trees.

Is Drought Killing My Palm Tree?

Question: Hi. My palm tree is dying! I transplanted a double-stem mature Pygmy Date Palm, about 6ft tall into the earth in front of my home. Currently, we are having a drought and I realized that the leaves on one of the stems started the wilt and droop very baldly.

I cut away all of the drooping leaves and ensure that it is getting an adequate supply of water daily. It doesn’t have much leaves left!!! I also added some fertilizer spikes to the soil. I don’t want to lose it, but I am concern if it will survive. HELP!

Answer: Cutting all the drooping leaves was a huge mistake. Your palm didn’t like it. Drooping leaves usually means not enough water. It is very easy to find out by checking the moist level of your soil.

Palm trees need to be deep watered, meaning that you need to water them for a longer period of time providing very little water. Instead of watering it fast with a large amount of water. That way, you give the soil enough time to absorb all the water.

Also, since you have a drought, it is a good idea to add a few inches of mulch to help the soil to stay moist. For more information read my article on watering palm trees.

I am guessing your palm tree is getting full sun. Poor palm is not used to full sun since it’s been growing indoors all this time. You need to cover it with a screen or a plastic to decrease the light levels. Stop fertilizing it. Hope this helps.

Why are King Palm Leaves Turning Brown?

Question: The leaves of my King Palm are turning brown! It is a few months old. I got it 3 weeks ago. I am following the instructions, planting it in full sun, and watering it every other day. What is wrong with my palm tree? Why is my King Palm turning brown? Thanks.

Answer: It is not unusual for palms to experience “transplant shock“. When palm is transplanted from the pot into the ground it loses part of the roots. That is why you need to supply it with a lot of water until it grows new roots. It takes a few months for the palm to establish.

You need to water a newly planted palm every day for the first week and then every other day for the second. See if the soil is moist enough. Also, your tree is way too young to sit in the full sun in the middle of the summer. You probably burned all the leaves.

Create a cover. Take 4 sticks and put a plastic cover on top. Make a few holes in the plastic every 2 weeks to allow more sun to get through. It will help to adjust your palm to higher light levels. 

How to Save Dying Palm Trees?

Question: Hello. I live in southern California and I’m trying to save my palm trees that are brown and look dead. How can I revive them? I think I over-pruned them, and put the Palm food pebbles too close to the trunk causing the roots to burn.

I tried fixing the problem by watering the palms more, and putting Palm Steaks into the ground as the directions told me to and I still do not see any healing to my palm trees.

How do I revive my palm trees? We are trying to sell our house, and I am desperate to get my Palm trees healed. Any help would be much appreciated. I was lucky to find such an informative site on Palm trees as yours after searching for info on this issue for a few days. Thanks for your time.

Answer: It sounds like you have multiple problems. Pruning too many leaves can send the palm into a shock. You need to give it some time to recover. There is not much you can do to reduce the stress.

Applying too much fertilizer can cause a root burn and kill your palm. It is usually the “fast release” formula that can do the damage. If you use a slow-release fertilizer, it should not damage the roots.

If you over-fertilized your tree, you need to water the fertilized portion of the soil to flush out the fertilizer. There is a danger of over-watering your palm, but if you have fast-draining soil, it should not be a problem.

After flushing out the fertilizer, return to a normal watering schedule. Applying more fertilizer at this point will make matters only worse. Your palm is already damaged and will need some time to heal.

Is My King Palm Tree Dying?

Question: Hi. We bought a house about a year ago that has a King Palm in a front planter. We asked a nursery what we needed to do. It’s beautiful. We did not want anything to happen to it. That was the problem. The told us to feed it with Jobbs Palm plant food and they take hardly any water. So we cut back on the water to only two minutes every other day (sprinklers).

Now all of the fronds are turning brown and even the new one emerging from the top is brown at the tip(not open yet). We did get a new flower bud that opened with all of the tiny little ‘seeds’. I’m afraid we are going to lose it. What can we do? More water? Even less water? Thank you for your help.

Answer: You need to provide your palm with enough water. Palm trees like moist well drained soil. Check to see the electronic soil moisture meter to see how moist the soil is. How big is your palm? If your palm can fit into a 10-gallon container, it needs 10 gallons of water.

If it is 15-gallon palm tree, it needs 15 gallons of water. There are different ways you can water your palm. Deep watering works the best. Deep watering is when you slowly drip water for a long period of time instead of dumping all of the water at once. This will give the soil more time to absorb the water.

How to Separate Majesty Palm Tree Suckers

Question: Hi. I have 2 Majesty Palms. One of them is a single palm and the other has 3 to 4 others growing out from the side. I noticed that the single tree appears to grow faster and looks better than the one with multiple trees growing out the side. I want to separate the multiple palms, but not sure what to do without doing damage to my palm. Is there a safe way to do that?

Answer: It is best to do the separation during late Spring or Summer. Wait until suckers are about 15 cm in diameter.  Remove the sucker from the base using a sharp curved blade. Try not to damage the main palm trunk. Place the offset into a draining mix and keep it in a shade.

It is too weak to tolerate a full sun. After removal, treat the cut on the main palm trunk with fungicide to avoid bacterial infection. I would also recommend treating offset with fungicide. It will take about 6-12 months for the offset to develop roots. 

Next, move it into a pot with fast-draining soil. You can place it in an area with more light. Warm and humid environment will speed up the growth process. While it is young, protect it from cold weather. 

Why Are Pygmy Date Palm Fronds Turning Brown?

Question: I have 3 Pygmy Palms in containers near my pool (west Texas) and for the last two years I have had a problem with the tips of the fronds turning a rusty brown, then yellow before the green area of the frond. Some of the leaves have what appear to be small lesions, the same rusty brown.

This seems very similar to the red spot that attacked my Red tips (photinia) about three years ago. I have used the same fungicide on the palms as I used on the red tips, which are now free of fungus(after two years of treatment).

I have seen a suggestion that this could be a magnesium and potassium sulfate deficiency. I use Super Bloom in all of my patio containers about every three weeks and I water daily or every two days as the days are cooling and the soil is not drying as fast. One tree has 3 trunks and is about 5 ft tall, the other two have not grown as well. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank You.

Answer: Palms are very sensitive plants. Sometimes it is very hard to figure out what’s wrong. This problem could be a nutrient deficiency. Use a good-quality fertilizer that has a slow-release formula and see if this helps.

After applying fertilizer, wait for a few months and see how new growth is developing. If new fronds don’t have the same problem, then just keep using that fertilizer.