“Why is my majesty palm dying?”
No worries, we’ve got you!
Majesty palms are beautiful as indoor or outdoor plants and are a fun and easy way to bring a touch of the tropics inside. And even though they’re relatively simple to grow, you may run into issues with your majesty palm.
What do you do when your majesty palm appears to be dying? How do you identify and treat the problem before it’s too late?
Here are the warning signs that indicate that your majesty palm might be suffering. We’ll also walk you through what you can do if you see these signs, and how to properly care for your majesty palm so you can avoid these issues as much as possible!
How Do You Know When a Majesty Palm Is Dying?
When your majesty palm isn’t happy with its care or environment, you’ll notice different symptoms on different areas of the plant, including the fronds and trunk.
Here are the telltale signs of problems and what they might mean.
The fronds, or leaves, are the first place you’ll find signs of illness or insufficient care.
Brown Spots on Leaves
If you notice soft, dark-brown spots on the fronds, this can indicate a bacterial or fungal infection, such as root rot. This can be caused and exacerbated by overwatering and a lack of sunlight.
If the infection is mild, you can simply repot the plant into a clean pot and fresh soil, then remove the damaged leaves.
Leaves With Yellow Tips
This is a common issue with majesty palms, and it can indicate a lot of different problems, including underwatering, overwatering, nutrient deficiency, lack of humidity, or even the chemicals in tap water.
So how do you figure out what the root cause is?
Use the process of elimination to do a little sleuthing.
Does the soil feel very wet a week or more after watering? If so, your plant might be overwatered and/or the pot or soil may not drain well enough.
Does the soil feel dry just a few days after watering? If the answer is “yes,” your plant might be underwatered. When you water the plant, make sure to soak the soil and then let it drain completely.
If the moisture level of the soil seems to be okay, look at the quality of the water you’re using. Are you using tap water? Many houseplants, including majesty palms, are sensitive to the chemicals in tap water, such as chlorine. Instead, water your majesty palm with purified, distilled, or rainwater. You can also leave tap water out for at least 8 hours to give the chlorine a chance to evaporate.
If that doesn’t seem to be the problem either, think about the last time you fertilized. If it’s been more than a few months and it’s currently spring or summer, your majesty palm might need nutrients! Start fertilizing regularly with Indoor Plant Food, which contains the perfect nutrients to help majesty palms grow taller and stronger with lots of big, beautiful fronds!
If you’ve been fertilizing and watering properly, think about the humidity levels in your plant’s space. This is a tropical plant, so it appreciates a fair amount of humidity. Levels of 40% or higher are ideal, but if you live in an arid climate or use a lot of indoor climate control, you can set up a humidifier near your plant, put the plant on a humidity tray, group it with other plants, or simply mist the leaves every day. (Here’s how to do this the right way.)
Brown or Yellow Leaves
Like browning or yellowing tips, leaves that are entirely brown can indicate a more advanced case of the issues listed above. Your plant may be very dry, severely overwatered, in dire need of nutrients, or unhappy with the chemicals in its water.
It’s uncommon, however, for entire leaves to go brown or yellow from a lack of humidity. So if you notice that entire leaves are discolored, that may not be the issue, unless the plant is next to a heater or an air-conditioning vent that might be blasting dry or hot air. (If that’s the case, move your majesty palm to a more appropriate location—stat!)
Yellowing or Browning of Lower Leaves
If you see discoloration only on the lower leaves, this is a pretty good indication that the plant is overwatered. If the discoloration is severe, your palm may even have root rot.
While most problems will manifest in the leaves first, you might also see problems with the trunk if your plant is in serious need of TLC.
Majesty Palm Drooping
Droop can have many different causes, but the most common is underwatering. This tropical plant grows natively on riverbanks in Madagascar, so it likes its soil to be evenly moist at all times. Don’t let the soil dry out. If the potting mix feels bone-dry to the touch, give it a drink!
Root shock can also cause your plant to droop. If you recently repotted or moved the plant, it might droop for a week or so. If you think this is the problem, simply leave your plant alone to adjust to its new environment. It should perk back up on its own!
If you notice the trunk getting soft or even molding, your plant is severely overwatered and probably has an infection as well.
If the rot is significant, it might be too late to save your plant. You might be better off starting over with a new, healthy majesty palm.
Lack of Buds During the Growing Season
Majesty palms typically grow “buds” at the top of the plant during the spring and summer. If your plant isn’t doing that, it could mean that your plant lacks nutrients or sunlight, or that it’s not getting enough water.
Check your plant’s lighting conditions (lots of bright, indirect sunlight is best), soil moisture level, and consider using a gentle liquid fertilizer like Indoor Plant Food to provide the nutrients your plant needs.
Care Tips to Prevent Your Majesty Palm From Dying
The best way to handle problems is to prevent them in the first place. While this isn’t always possible—issues still happen—proper majesty palm care will go a long way in preventing leaf discoloration.
Here’s how to take the best possible care of your majesty palm.
The soil your plant lives in is a big part of its environment, but it’s easy to forget this element of plant care! Here’s what you need to know:
Plant in Well-Draining Soil
While majesty palms like their soil to be evenly damp—they grow on riverbanks in Madagascar, after all—they don’t like sitting in soggy soil. So it’s crucial that you choose a potting mix that drains well and stays well-aerated.
Our Premium Potting Soil for Indoor Plants is a great choice. You can also make your own soil by combining one part sand, one part loam, and two parts peat moss for the perfect blend of drainage and water retention.
Don’t Allow Soil to Dry Out Between Waterings
Some plants like their soil to partially or completely dry out between waterings. Majesty palm is not one of them.
Check the moisture level of your soil every few days and water when the top 2 inches feel dry, or when a moisture meter reads 3-4.
Allow Excess Water to Drain Off After Watering
Again, majesty palms don’t like wet feet, so allow your pot to drain completely after watering. Leave the pot in the sink or tub for an hour or two, or empty the drainage tray immediately after watering. Do this more than once if necessary.
Tropical plants like majesty palms need a decent amount of humidity in order to stay healthy!
Ideal Humidity for Indoor Majesty Palms
Majesty palms do best with humidity levels above 40%. If you live in a dry area or otherwise can’t maintain that humidity level indoors, don’t worry. There are ways to raise the ambient humidity around your majesty palm!
You can set up a humidifier, use a humidity tray (you can buy these at garden stores or online, or just fill a tray with water and pebbles and sit the pot on top), group your majesty palm with other plants, place it in a steamy kitchen or bathroom, etc. You’ve got options!
When to Mist Majesty Palms
The easiest way to provide your palm with the right amount of humidity is misting.
If you notice dry leaf tips on your palm, your plant might need a humidity boost.
Use purified or distilled water in a spray bottle (set to mist, of course) and mist both sides of your majesty palm’s leaves. Make sure to get the undersides, because this is where the majority of the plant’s stomata are located. These tiny holes are like the pores in your skin, and where the plant will absorb most of the moisture from your misting efforts. It’s also a good idea to mist before 9:00 a.m. when temperatures may be cool. This will slow evaporation and give the plant a chance to get the most out of the moisture on its leaves.
All plants are susceptible to some pests. Insects are often attracted to dark, damp conditions, so you can prevent infestations by providing your majesty palm with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight, and taking care not to overwater your plant.
Household pests can still find their way onto your plant, however. Here’s how to identify and treat the most common pests that plague majesty palms.
Common Pest Infestations in Majesty Palms
The most common insects you’ll likely find on majesty palms include aphids, scale, and spider mites. These insects can suck the juices out of your palm’s leaves, leaving them discolored, limp, and sometimes spotted.
Spider mites are often too small to see with the naked eye, but they’ll leave behind tiny, dark dots and sometimes white, cottony webbing.
Aphids look like tiny green or white flecks on your plant’s leaves and stems.
Scale looks like small brown bumps attached to the leaves and stems.
All of these can cause discoloration and drooping. If you notice these signs, check for bugs!
How to Treat Pest Infestations
The first step is to remove as many insects as possible from your majesty palm. For spider mites and aphids, you can rinse your palm with a hose or kitchen sprayer, or even use a lint roller on the leaves to collect as many of the bugs as possible.
Scale is a little trickier to remove, however, since it affixes itself to your plant. Use your fingernail to pry off the scale, or you can rub them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to get them to release their hold.
Once you’ve removed the insects, spray your plant down with diluted neem oil or our Leaf Armor Spray. You may want to do this outside, as neem oil has a pungent, almost garlicky odor. You may need to do this a few times to kill off new generations of insects as they hatch.
If this doesn’t take care of the problem, you can use a gentle insecticide in lieu of neem oil.
The correct lighting conditions can go a long way in keeping your majesty palm healthy!
Avoid Direct Sunlight
These plants do best in bright, indirect sunlight from an east-facing window. A little direct morning light can be okay, but avoid placing your plant where it will receive direct sunlight during midday or the afternoon. This can scorch the leaves and cause dry brown patches that will not heal.
Rotate Your Plant Regularly
It’s also a good idea to give your plant a quarter turn or so each time you water. This will ensure that all sides of the plant will receive adequate sunlight, which will prevent your plant from leaning, reaching, or otherwise becoming lopsided.
Fertilize in Moderation
Your majesty palm needs nutrients to grow and carry out its physical functions, but it’s important to provide the right amounts of the right nutrients. Choosing the right fertilizer and the right time to fertilize is crucial!
When to Fertilize Majesty Palm
Fertilize regularly during the spring and summer when your palm is most likely to be actively growing. The exact schedule will vary depending on which fertilizer you use.
We recommend liquid fertilizers because it’s easier to control how much your plant is getting, and therefore prevent overfertilization. Potted majesty palms do best with a fertilizer that contains a bit more nitrogen. Indoor Plant Food works beautifully for majesty palms with its N-P-K ratio of 3-1-2. It’s also gentle enough to use every time you water, which takes the guesswork out of fertilizing!
Overfertilization can be just as harmful as nutrient deficiency because it can chemically burn your plant’s roots and cause leaf discoloration.
To avoid this, make sure to follow the dilution directions on your fertilizer and err on the light side. Do not use slow-release or pellet fertilizers in conjunction with liquid fertilizer. Finally, avoid fertilizing within a month of repotting your majesty palm. The roots will be especially sensitive at this time and more susceptible to chemical burn.
Pruning is important for maintaining the health and beauty of your plant! Here’s how and when to properly prune your majesty palm.
Remove Dead or Dying Leaves
If you notice any dead, dying, or otherwise damaged leaves on your majesty palm, go ahead and remove those so your plant can redirect its energy toward growing new, healthy leaves.
Using clean shears or scissors, carefully trim away dead leaves. If you are removing part of a damaged leaf, like dried-out tips, make sure to trim just inside the damaged area to avoid cutting into healthy foliage (this will just cause it to turn brown anyway).
You can also prune to control your majesty palm’s size and shape, though this may not be an issue with this slow-growing plant. If you do prune for aesthetic reasons, we suggest using colored string or tape to mark your cuts in advance and avoid trimming away more than 10% of the foliage at once, which could send your plant into shock.
Can Brown Palm Leaves Turn Green Again?
Unfortunately, no. Once a leaf has turned brown, it can’t turn green again. Sometimes yellow leaves may turn green once an issue is corrected, like in the case of certain nutrient deficiencies, but generally a discolored leaf will not recover.
It’s best to trim away damaged leaves so the plant can focus on growing new, healthy leaves to replace the dead ones.
Why Is My Majesty Palm Dying? Final Thoughts
As with many things, prevention is the best treatment when it comes to majesty palm health problems. The next best course of action is to monitor your plant closely so you can quickly identify issues and treat them. Nine times out of 10, this will allow you to intervene in time to save your plant and bring it back to full health.
It’s important to get to know your plant and learn to read its cues so you can know when it’s unhappy with its care or environment. With a little practice, you’ll get the hang of this, and majesty palm care will feel like second nature!
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