“Why is my majesty palm turning brown?!”
There are few things more frustrating to a dedicated houseplant owner than brown leaves on a beloved houseplant!
Brown leaves on majesty palms can indicate many different health problems, so it’s important to understand which factors to check and how to use the process of elimination so you can determine the problem and fix it.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the various potential causes for browning leaves on your majesty palm, and how to remedy these problems.
You’ll be a pro at sleuthing plant problems in no time!
How to Revive a Majesty Palm With Brown Leaves
Maintain Consistent Watering Schedule
Most often, browning leaves are a sign of a watering issue, which can mean over- or underwatering. This might sound super confusing, but luckily, you can check on the moisture level of the soil to figure out whether one of these might be the problem, as well as observe the particular quality of the browning leaves. The color, texture, and location of the spots can give you a lot of important information!
If your majesty palm is severely underwatered, the leaves will turn light brown and get kind of crispy. The soil will also feel dry to the touch, most likely.
Test the soil with your finger, a wooden stick, or a moisture meter. (We highly recommend using a moisture meter, by the way, because it gives you a more accurate idea of what’s going on deeper inside the pot. Depending on how well-aerated your soil is, the top of the soil might be completely dry while the root ball is still wet!)
If the soil feels dry, if the stick comes out dry, or if the moisture meter reads less than 3, your plant is dry and needs a drink!
If you watered just a few days ago and your majesty palm’s soil has already dried out, you may need to water more deeply. Make sure to give the soil a good soak and let the water drain out completely. If that still doesn’t fix the problem, you might need a potting mix with a little more moisture retention from ingredients like coco coir or peat moss.
Learn more about how and when to water your majesty palm.
If your plant is overwatered, you might notice soft, dark-brown spots on the leaves. Entire leaves may also be soft and medium brown, and you might see squishy, dark leaf stems.
If you notice these signs, check the soil with your finger, a chopstick, or a moisture meter. If you watered 7 or more days ago and the soil still feels wet, the stick comes out wet, or if the moisture meter reads higher than a 4, your plant may be overwatered.
If you’re watering more than once per week, you may need to water less often. But if you’re only watering every 7-10 days or so (which is usually recommended for majesty palms), the problem might be with drainage.
If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, that will cause problems, obviously. Repot into a pot with holes!
Learn about our favorite pots for majesty palms here!
Your choice of potting mix could also be the culprit. If your soil is compacted or simply too dense, it might retain water for too long, which means the roots are sitting in soaked soil.
If your soil is staying wet for longer than 10 days, repot into a well-aerated potting mix that drains more quickly.
Here are our top recommendations for majesty palm soil.
If your majesty palm sits in soggy soil for too long, it can develop fungal root rot. If this happens, you’ll notice similar signs that you’d see with regular overwatering, but more severe. This might include soft black spots, squishy stems, and even a bad smell coming from the soil.
If you suspect your majesty palm might have root rot, the only way to tell for sure is to unpot the plant and inspect the roots. If you notice any dark, smelly, or slimy roots, carefully trim those away. Then repot into a clean pot with fresh, fast-draining soil.
Go a little lighter on the water for a while and make sure your plant gets lots of bright, indirect sunlight so it can heal. We also recommend using Root Supplement when you do water. This supplement helps to prevent the infection from returning and allows the roots to recover.
It’s also a good idea to remove the affected leaves, using clean hands and tools. Make sure to throw the leaves away in the trash, not in your compost pile! You don’t want to risk spreading the fungus to your other plants, indoor or outdoor.
Avoid Tap Water
Brown leaf tips or dry brown spots can also indicate that your majesty palm is unhappy with the type of water it’s receiving. Some plants are sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals found in tap water, so if that seems to be causing problems, switch to purified, distilled, or rainwater. In a pinch, you can also leave tap water out overnight to allow some of the chemicals to evaporate before you water your plant.
Avoid Temperature Stress
Temperatures that are too hot or too cold can also cause your majesty palm leaves to turn brown!
Excessive heat will usually cause dryness and lighter brown spots, while browning caused by cold will be darker, even black. You might also notice drooping.
If everything seems to be in order with your watering situation, look around your plant’s area to check for drafts or blasts of hot air from vents, doors, windows, space heaters, etc. If you notice anything that could be causing extreme temperatures around your plant, make adjustments.
Sudden temperature changes can take plant owners by surprise sometimes around the change of the seasons. A majesty palm might thrive in a certain spot for months until winter comes and the central heat kicks on, or the window it sits by starts emitting a cold draft. If you’ve started using indoor climate control more than usual or if outdoor temperatures have changed drastically, this could be your problem!
If you live in an arid climate or use a lot of indoor climate control, the humidity levels might not be ideal for your majesty palm. If the leaves are drying out but you don’t notice any issues with soil moisture, water quality, or temperatures, this could be your problem.
(A humidity meter can also help you out here. Majesty palms do best in humidity levels around 40%. If your space is less humid than that, you might need to make some adjustments!)
To provide your plant with more humidity, try setting up a humidifier nearby, placing your plant on a humidity tray (you can buy these or make your own by filling a tray with water and pebbles), placing your majesty palm near your other plants (grouping plants raises ambient humidity through respiration), or by misting your plant at least a few times per week.
Learn how to mist your houseplants properly here.
Natural Aging of Leaves
If you can’t find a problem with your majesty palm’s care or environment no matter how hard you try, it’s possible that the browning leaves you see are just old and getting ready to drop on their own because the plant doesn’t need them anymore. This browning and leaf drop usually occurs in the oldest leaves on the bottom.
So if the issue is pretty much confined to the bottom leaves and everything else appears fine, you can relax. Your majesty palm is probably getting ready to do a little leaf decluttering. Nothing to worry about!
How to Prune Your Majesty Plant
Often, your majesty palm will eventually drop browning leaves on its own, but you might want to help it along by pruning dead or damaged growth so your plant can redirect its energy toward new, healthy growth.
And if you have a fungal or bacterial infection, some careful pruning can prevent the infection from spreading around the plant, or even to other houseplants nearby.
When you prune, it’s a good idea to wash your hands and use clean, sterilized shears or scissors to prevent spreading pathogens to other leaves, or potentially introducing a new pathogen to the plant! You can clean your tools with soap and water or with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. If you’re for sure dealing with diseased growth, use a cotton ball with alcohol to clean your tools between cuts.
Removing Yellow or Brown Leaves
If a leaf has mostly turned brown or yellow, you can remove it. It won’t heal or turn green again!
It’s best to remove that whole section of leaf. You don’t have to take off the whole frond unless it’s so damaged that you’ll only have a few pieces left on the stem.
To remove a leaf, cut at the base of the section, just above the stem of the frond, but without cutting into the stem itself.
Learn more about pruning (and even propagating!) your majesty palm here.
Removing Brown Tips
If you’ve got some brown tips but the rest of the leaf appears okay, you can just prune the tips. No need to remove the whole palm frond!
To do this, trim the end of the leaf to remove as much of the brown part as you can without actually cutting into the healthy, green part of the leaf. If you cut the green part, the edge of the cut will simply brown anyway. It’s best to cut just inside where the browning begins.
FAQ Majesty Palm Turning Brown
FAQ: Can brown palm leaves turn green again?
Unfortunately, no. Once a leaf has turned brown, regardless of the cause, it can’t turn back to green again. Your best bet is to remove the damaged area and adjust your care routine or plant environment so new, healthy leaves can grow.
FAQ: How can I prevent my majesty palm leaves from turning brown?
The best way to prevent leaf discoloration is to care for your plant properly. Make sure to pot in a fast-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes. Water when the top few inches of soil feel dry or when a moisture meter reads 3-4 (avoid using straight tap water), give your plant lots of indirect sunlight, and avoid temperature extremes or very dry air.
Even if you do this 80% right, that will prevent a lot of health problems and discoloration on your majesty palm down the road!
Learn more about majesty palm care:
Why Is My Majesty Palm Turning Yellow? | How to Fix
Final Thoughts on Majesty Palm Turning Brown
Browning leaves on your majesty palm (or any houseplant) can be frustrating, especially if you’re already putting a lot of effort into caring for your plants.
But remember this: plants want to grow and be healthy. Discoloration is your plant’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. If you treat the problem quickly, your plant can get right back on track and grow even more beautiful fronds!
It’s all about learning to read your plant’s signals and knowing which factors to check in order to quickly determine the cause of the problem so you can take action right away.
You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Discover more houseplant care resources:
The Last Houseplant Book You Will Ever Need
Houseplants for Beginners Webinar
Houseplant Resource Center Facebook Community