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Why Is My Palm Tree Turning Brown?

A palm tree might turn brown for several reasons, including environmental stress, nutrient deficiencies, pest infestations, and disease.

What To Do If Your Palm Tree Fronds Turn Brown

If your palm tree leaves turn brown, you can do several things to help your plant recover.

First, determine the type of damage you see: leaf ends may be dry and crispy, or there may be spongy and mushy brown spots.

Then identify the cause of the problem.

What Causes A Palm Tree To Turn Brown?

Palm trees can turn brown for several reasons. Here are some common causes and their solutions:


Too much water causes the roots of the palm tree to rot, leading to yellow leaves, brown leaves, mushy spots, and a musty smell coming from the soil.

Solution: reduce the frequency of watering and ensure the soil is well-draining.


Too little water can cause the leaves of the palm tree to turn brown and dry out.

Solution: increase the watering frequency and keep the soil moist.

Water Sensitivity

Some palm trees are sensitive to the quality of water they receive. High salts, chlorine, or fluoride levels in the water can cause brown leaves.

Solution: use filtered or distilled water or let tap water sit for a day before watering the palm tree.

Too Much Sun

Excessive exposure to direct sunlight can cause the leaves of the palm tree to turn brown and dry out. Solution: provide shade or move the palm tree to a location with indirect sunlight.

Fungal Infection

Fungal or bacterial infections can cause the roots or trunk of the palm tree to rot, leading to brown leaves.

Solution: remove any affected parts of the tree and treat the soil and remaining tree with fungicides or bactericides.


Pests like spider mites, scales, or mealybugs can infest the palm tree and cause brown leaves.

Solution: remove any affected leaves and treat the tree with insecticides or natural remedies like neem oil.

Brown palm trees can be caused by improper watering, too much sun, or pests.

Should You Cut The Brown Tips Off A Palm Tree?

If your palm tree has brown tips on its leaves or dead fronds, it's likely an indication of damage or stress. While removing the damaged leaves is not always necessary, doing so can help improve the tree's appearance and overall health.

To prune damaged leaves on a palm tree, you need a pair of sharp pruning shears and a ladder if the affected leaves are high up on the tree. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Take a close look at your palm tree and identify the leaves with brown tips or otherwise damaged.

  2. Decide how much of the leaf needs to be pruned. In general, you should only remove the brown or damaged portion of the leaf, leaving the healthy green part intact. However, if the damage is extensive, you may need to remove the entire leaf.

  3. Before you begin cutting, sterilize your pruning shears with rubbing alcohol or a mixture of water and bleach to prevent the spread of disease.

  4. Cut the damaged portion with your pruning shears, making a clean incision as close to the base of the leaf as possible. If removing the entire leaf, cut it where it meets the trunk.

  5. Collect the cuttings and dispose of them properly, either in a compost bin or in the trash.

  6. Keep an eye on your tree after pruning to ensure it's recovering well. If you notice further damage or signs of stress, consult a professional arborist.

Dead brown leaves will not grow back. Prune the entire leaf back to the stem.

Issues Specific To Areca & Majesty of Fan Palms

Areca Palms

If your indoor palm tree is an Areca Palm, it may be particularly sensitive to cold temperatures. Try to keep the plant in a warm area, away from any drafts or chilly air.

Majesty Or Fan Palms

There could be several reasons your Majesty or Fan Palm houseplant is turning brown. One common cause is a lack of water. Palms prefer a consistent watering schedule, and if the soil is allowed to dry out too much between watering, it can cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown and the older leaves to yellow. Water your palm thoroughly, allowing the water to drain out of the bottom through the drainage holes.

Another issue that can lead to browning is a lack of soil. Palms require several inches of soil to thrive. If your plant's root ball is too large for the pot, it may not have enough earth to sustain itself. You may need to repot your palm in a larger container with fresh soil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will A Brown Palm Tree Grow Back?

It depends on the extent and cause of the damage to the palm tree. Sometimes, a brown palm tree may recover and grow new healthy leaves, especially if a temporary stressor like extreme weather or lack of water causes the damage.

However, if the damage is due to a more severe issue such as disease, insect infestation, or root damage, the palm tree may not recover and may eventually die. It's important to assess the cause of the damage and take appropriate steps to address it to increase the chances of the palm tree recovering.

How Do You Know If A Palm Tree Is Dying?

Here are some signs that may indicate a palm tree is dying:

  • Discoloration: If you notice yellowing or browning of the palm tree's leaves, it may be a sign of a problem. Brown or black spots on the trunk can also indicate a serious problem.

  • A palm tree that is wilting or drooping may be a sign of stress or lack of water.

  • If a palm tree is not growing at the same rate as other trees of the same species, it could be a sign that it's not getting enough nutrients or water. If the soil lacks magnesium, the new leaves may emerge yellow or with brown spots. Palms require a balanced supply of potassium, magnesium, and manganese, among other nutrients, to thrive. Consider fertilizing your palm tree with a slow-release fertilizer designed specifically for palm plants.

  • Cracks or splits in the trunk could be a sign of disease or insect infestation.

  • Some pests, such as borers or beetles, can cause significant damage to palm trees. Look for signs of pest infestation, such as holes in the trunk or fronds, sawdust, or webs.

  • If a palm tree's roots are damaged or not getting enough water, the tree may show signs of decline or death.

How Do You Save A Browning Palm Tree?

Here are some tips to save a browning palm tree:

  1. The first step in protecting a browning palm tree is to identify the cause of the problem. Common causes of browning include overwatering, underwatering, nutrient deficiencies, disease, or pest infestations.

  2. You may need to adjust your watering practices. Overwatering causes root rot while underwatering causes stress.

  3. If nutrient deficiencies cause the browning, you may need to fertilize the tree with a balanced fertilizer.

  4. Remove any dead or damaged leaves with sharp pruning shears, making a clean cut as close to the base of the leaf as possible. This will help the tree focus its resources on new growth.

  5. If the browning is caused by disease or pests, you may need to treat the tree with a pesticide or fungicide.

  6. If your palm tree is exposed to too much direct sunlight, it can cause stress and brown fronds. Providing shade during the hottest parts of the day helps alleviate this.

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