How to Revive a Dying Majesty Palm


How to revive a dying majesty palm plant

Usually the reasons for majesty palms dying are because of low humidity, underwatering or overwatering. Majesty palms are native to humid climates and grow in moist soil with good drainage. Low humidity and underwatering cause leaf tips to turn brown and crispy. Overwatering turns leaves yellow and brown with a dying appearance.

Majesty palms prefer to grow in bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight causes the leaves to turn yellow.

Majesty palms grow along river banks in their native environment and prefer high humidity with evenly moist soil.

If the soil around the root ball dries out and the humidity is too low the majesty palm leaves dry out and turn brown.

To revive a dying majesty palm replicate the conditions of its natural environment by misting the leaves to increase humidity, watering every 7 days so the soil is evenly moist, maintain a temperature range of 65ºF to 75ºF (18ºC to 23ºC) and cut back any brown, dying leaves to stimulate new growth.

Keep reading for how to save your dying majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis)…

Majesty Palm Leaves Turning Brown

Majesty palm leaves turning brown due to low humidity and underwatering.
Majesty palm leaves turning brown due to low humidity and underwatering.
  • Symptoms. Leaf tips turning brown, drying out and turning crispy. Leaves can also turn yellow and brown or have brown spots.
  • Causes. Low humidity, dry soil, too much fertilizer, excessively high or low temperatures, overwatering. Older leaves turn brown as the plant matures.

The most common reasons for majesty palm leaves turning brown are because of low humidity and dry soil. Majesty palm is adapted to living in humid climates with evenly moist soil. If the humidity is too low and the soil dries out around the palm’s root ball, the leaf tips turn brown, dried out and crispy with a dying appearance.

Majesty palms are native to Madagascar where they grow around lagoons and riverbanks with moist, yet well draining soil and high humidity.

The typical level of humidity indoors is around 10% whereas the majesty palm prefers the humidity at around 40%.

Low humidity is often exacerbated by indoor heating or air conditioning which saps moisture from the majesty palm’s leaves causing the leaf tips to turn brown and crispy.

Majesty palms grow in well draining soil that needs to be consistently moist around the root ball.

Typically, a majesty palm should be watered once a week with a thorough watering, so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot, to ensure the moisture has reached the roots where it is required.

If a majesty palm is not watered often enough or watered too lightly then the leaves start to dry out and turn brown with a crispy appearance.

The leaf tips can also turn brown if fertilizer has been applied too often or in too high concentration. Majesty palms are quite particularly about fertilizer and it is best practice to use about 2 applications of palm plant specific fertilizer in the Spring and Summer. Ordinary house plant fertilizer can contribute to the leaf tips turning brown.

Palm plants also prefer a temperature range of between 65ºF to 75ºF (18ºC to 23ºC) with 10 degrees cooler in the evening avoiding temperatures lower then 55ºF (12ºC).

If the temperature is too high, then this can sap moisture from the leaves causing them to turn brown or it can dry the soil out too quickly causing drought stress, and results in brown leaves.

If the palm is located near to a window and the leaves are in contact with the glass then this can be the reason for the leaf tips turning brown.

Glass is often significantly colder then the room temperature (particularly at night during Winter) and the cold stress can turn the leaves brown.

The leaves may turn yellow and brown due to fungal disease if the soil is saturated. Majesty palms prefer moist, yet well draining soil and do not tolerate boggy soil.

If the soil is too damp, then this excludes oxygen from the soil which prevents root respiration and interferes with roots ability to draw up moisture and nutrients to transport to the leaves which causes the majesty palm’s leaves to turn yellow and brown with a dying appearance.

If the soil is too damp in general, then this promotes the conditions for root rot and other fungal diseases.

It should be noted that the lower, older leaves of the majesty palm often turn brown and dried out as the plant matures.

As the palm grows, it redirects its energy to growing new leaves at the top of the plant as they are more likely to receive light.

This is a normal part of the majesty palm’s life cycle and does not indicate the plant is dying.

How to Revive a Dying Majesty Palm Plant with Brown Leaves

  • If the majesty palm is suffering from drought stress, then submerge the roots ball in a basin of water from 10 minutes. Sometimes when the soil dries out completely, it becomes hydrophobic (repels water) and the water just runs off the surface without infiltrating the soil and reaching the roots. submerging the root ball allows the water to absorb into the soil and reach the roots.
  • Always water the majesty palm with a generous soak (around once a week), so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot. If it is watered too lightly, then only the top inch or so of the soil becomes moist and the water does not reach the roots, where it is required.
  • Mist the leaves every other day or use a plant humidifier. Misting the leaves helps to create a humid micro-climate that emulates the humidity of the majesty palm’s native environment and prevents the leaves turning brown. This also helps to counteract dry air from indoor heating and air conditioning.
  • Ensure the temperature stays in the range of 65º and 75º and 10 degrees cooler at night. This temperature range mimics the climate in the majesty palms native environment. Keep the palm away from any sources of heat which can dry out the soil too quickly and cause the leaves to turn brown and crispy.
  • Do not apply ordinary fertilizer to majesty palms and always follow the instructions to avoid the leaf tips turning brown. It is best practice to apply fertilizer but only use a specific palm fertilizer to avoid harming the plant and use only twice per year in the Spring and Summer.
  • Ensure that the majesty palm’s leaves are not in contact with windows. This ensures that the leaves do not turn brown due to cold stress.
  • If the leaves are turning yellow and brown, this indicates overwatering or poor drainage. If you are watering your majesty palm more then once a week then this is most likely the cause for the leaves turning yellow and brown. Scale back the watering to once a week, ensure the pot has drainage holes in the base and empty any saucers, trays or decorative outer pots of excess water to allow water to drain properly so the soil does not become boggy.

Should I cut back Brown Majesty Palm Leaves?

Cut back any brown leaves or leaf tips back to healthy green growth with a sharp pair of pruners. Once the leaves turn brown and crispy, they do not restore their color and turn green again. Cutting brown leaves back stimulates new growth of healthy green leaves.

Majesty Palm Leaves Turning Yellow

  • Symptoms. Leaves turning yellow and brown and dying. Sun damaged leaves fade yellow and brown with a scorched and sometimes crispy appearance.
  • Causes. Too much sunlight, not enough sunlight, not enough fertilizer, underwatering, over watering, poor drainage.

Usually the reasons for majesty palm leaves turning yellow is because of too much sunlight or overwatering. Majesty palms need bright, indirect light rather then direct sunlight. If the leaves are in full sun, then they turn yellow with a scorched appearance. Overwatering turns leaves yellow and brown with a dying appearance.

Majesty palms grow along river banks and around lagoons in their native habitat in Madagascar, under a canopy, usually with filtered light or bright, indirect light rather then direct sunlight.

Due to their adaptations growing as an under-story plant out of direct sunlight, the leaves can be very sensitive to too much sunlight.

Direct sunlight causes the leaves to fade and turn yellow with a somewhat scorched appearance with the leaves in the most sunlight being the most affected.

The best way to establish the cause of yellowing majesty palm leaves, specifically due to sun damage, is if the side of the majesty palm that faces the sun has turned yellow and faded, more so then the shaded side of the plant (which may stay somewhat green) then sun damage is responsible rather then overwatering.

It should also be noted that majesty palm leaves can turn yellow if they are in too much shade. Bright, indirect light is optimal for majesty palm plants.

Majesty palms can also turn yellow due to a lack of fertilizer, as it is best practice to use a fertilizer to ensure good growth and green leaves.

During the growing months in the Spring and Summer the majesty palms as the roots can exhaust the pot of available nutrients.

A nutrient deficit in the soil causes the majesty palm to grow slowly or stop growing and the leaves turn yellow.

Whilst majesty palms prefer high humidity and moist soil, it is essential that the soil is well draining around the root ball.

If the potting soil is consistently damp then this prevents root respiration and promotes the conditions for root rot and fungal diseases which can turn the leaves yellow and brown with a dying appearance.

Majesty palm leaves turning yellow due to damp soil, can be caused by overwatering, compacted, slow draining soils, pots without drainage holes in the base or decorative pot, saucers and trays underneath the pot causing water to pool around the base of the pot resulting in boggy soil.

It should be noted that the risk of the leaves turning yellow due to overwatering increase in the Winter.

During the Winter months, the majesty palm slows down growth in response to fewer hours of daylight, therefore the roots draw up less moisture from the soil as the plant is not actively growing.

With a lower demand for moisture the potting soil can stay damp for longer, which promotes the conditions for root rot, which turns the leaves yellow and brown with a dying appearance.

If the palm is slightly drought stressed from underwatering or watering too lightly, the palm leaves can start to turn yellow.

How to Revive a Dying Majesty Palm with Yellow Leaves

  • Locate your majesty palm in an area of bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight. If the sun has scorched the leaves yellow, the majesty palm should survive but the individual leaves do not recover their appearance. As long as the palm is protected from direct sunlight and the conditions are favorable, new green growth should emerge.
  • Cut back any leaves that are severely scorched and faded yellow or brown. If the leaves are severely sun burnt, then these leaves do not recover and return to a green appearance. Snip back the damaged yellow leaves with a sharp pair of pruner back, as they can no long photosynthesize and pruning helps to stimulate new healthy green growth.
  • If the soil feels damp and the leaves are turning yellow and brown then scale back the watering. Feel the soil through the drainage hole at the base of the pot. The soil should feel evenly moist rather then damp and boggy. Majesty palms should only be watered once a week during the Spring and Summer (with a generous soak) and once every 10-14 days in Fall and Winter when the plant is not actively growing.
  • Ensure the potting soil isn’t compacted as this can interfere with drainage. If the soil is compacted then all the oxygen is pushed out the soil which prevents root respiration and turns the leaves yellow with a dying appearance. Repot the palm plant if the soil appears to be compacted and draining slowly. Use normal potting soil amended with some perlite to help improve the soil structure to increase drainage and aerate the soil.
  • Always plant majesty palms in pots with drainage holes in the base and empty saucers and trays regularly. Water should be able to flow freely from the base of the pot rather then pool around the roots. Good drainage is essential to mitigate the risk of root rot.
  • Apply a fertilizer twice a year to revive yellowing majesty palm leaves. If you are following the best practices of care in terms of watering, drainage and sunlight then the reason for your majesty palm leaves turn yellow is likely because the soil is low in nutrients. Palm plants do not like to be repotted too often so instead of replacing the soil, apply a fertilizer that is specifically made for palm plants as they contain the right balance of nutrients at the right concentration to turn the leaves green and promote healthy growth.

Majesty palms that have sun brunt leaves can recover once the palm has been moved to an area of bright indirect light and the damaged leaves have been pruned back to healthy growth.

Green healthy leaves should emerge during the growing season and the majesty palm can quickly restore its appearance.

Yellow majesty palm leaves also recover well after an application of fertilizer, if cause of the yellowing leaves is because the plant had exhausted all the available nutrients in the potting soil.

However if the majesty palms roots have been sat in boggy soil for a long time, then root rot and other fungal diseases can be the cause of a dying plant and it can be very difficult to revive the plant.

Can Yellow Palm Leaves Turn Green Again?

If the palm leaves have been sun burnt or the palm is suffering from a fungal disease then the affect leaves do not turn green again. However if the leaves are turning yellow because the soil is low in nutrients then the leaves can turn green again, if you apply fertilizer.

Cut back any yellow leaves back to healthy growth as they do not turn green again, unless the palm leaves are turning yellow due to underwatering or low nutrients, in which case the leaves can sometimes restore their appearance once the conditions that cause the yellowing have been amended.

Why is My Majesty Palm Drying Out

  • Symptoms. Majesty leaves drying out and turning brown or a faded yellow. Often the tips and margins of the leaves dry out, turn brown and crispy.
  • Causes. Low humidity, dry soil, high temperatures and too much sunlight.

Usually the reason for majesty leaves drying out is because of low humidity. Majesty palms are native to tropical climates and are adapted to environment with high humidity. The humidity indoors is much lower then the majesty palms native environment, which saps moisture from the leaves causing them to dry out and turn crispy.

Majesty palms are adapted growing along river banks and near lagoons in Madagascar, with consistently high humidity of at least 40%.

The air indoors is usually around 10% but humidity can decrease even further in Winter due to indoor heating and due to air conditioning in Summer.

This difference in the levels of humidity causes the majesty palm to lose too much moisture through the leaves quicker then the plant can draw up water at the roots resulting in the leaves drying out and turning brown and crispy.

Whilst low humidity is the most common cause of a majesty palm drying out, dry soil is also a significant contributing factor.

Majesty palms grow in well draining, yet consistently moist soil in their native environment.

If the soil around the root ball dries out completely due to not watering often enough and watering the soil too lightly then the majesty palms leaves dry out, turning brown and crispy.

Sometimes the potting soil becomes hydrophobic (repels water) if it dries out completely which causes it to run off the surface of the soil and not infiltrate properly to reach the roots, resulting in a drought stressed majesty palm with dried out leaves.

Other contributing factors can also be high temperatures (often in Winter with indoor heating) and too much sunlight, both of which can dry out the soil and create the adverse conditions that turn the majesty palm’s leaves crispy and dried out.

How to Revive a Majesty Palm That is Drying out

To revive a dying majesty palm with dried out leaves, adjust the conditions by misting the leaves to increase the humidity, soak the root ball in a basin of water, locate the palm in indirect light rather then direct sunlight and trim back any dried leaves to stimulate new growth.

  • Soak the root ball in a basin of water from 10 minutes, ensuring the root ball is submerged. Often, if a plant is underwatered the soil dries out and bakes hard and does not absorb water properly, If the majesty palm leaves are drying out due to underwatering, then submerging the root ball is the most effective of reviving the plant as this ensures the water reaches the roots, where it is required.
  • Water the majesty palm every 7 days with a generous soak, so that excess water trickles from the drainage holes at the base of the pot. Watering thoroughly every 7 days ensures the potting soil is evenly moist, so that the roots have access to the moisture they require. Water the palm every 10-14 days in Winter as the plant is not actively growing.
  • Mist the leaves every day whilst the plant recovers. Misting the leaves creates a humid micro-climate which emulates the majesty palms tropical native environment and counteracts the affects of dry indoor air. Misting the leaves reduces the rate of water loss from the leaves which crates more favorable conditions for your majesty palm and mitigates the risk of the leaves drying out and turning brown and crispy.
  • Maintain a temperature range of between 65º and 75º and around 10 degrees cooler at night. High temperatures dry out the soil and saps moisture from the leaves, so keep the majesty palm away from any sources of indoor heating. Cooler temperatures replicate the conditions of its native environment, which should help the palm recover.
  • Place the majesty palm in an area of bright, indirect light rather then direct sunlight. Too much sun is often a contributing cause to the leaves drying out and fading yellow. Bright, indirect provides the majesty palm with the energy to grow and it is still protect from direct sunlight which can burn the leaves.
  • Snip back any dried out leaves with a sharp pair of pruners. Once the leaves have dried out and turned crispy, they do not restore their original green appearance. Snip the leaves back to healthy growth which tidy’s up the appearance of the plant and stimulates new healthy growth.

Majesty palms with dried out leaves typically recover well once you have adjusted the conditions so that they emulate some of the characteristics of its native environment (more humidity and evenly moist soil).

If you trim back the dried out leaves during active growth in the Spring and Summer the majesty palm should revive its appearance in the following weeks.

Majesty Palm Leaning

  • Symptoms. Majesty palm plant leaves and stems leaning over to one side.
  • Causes. Low levels of light and not turning the palm around, often enough, so that each side faces the light.

The most common reason for a majesty palm leaning is because the leaves and branches are growing towards the strongest source of light. Majesty palms need bright light to grow to their best. If they are in low light the palm leans towards the light to attain brighter light.

In their native environment, majesty palms are found naturally in the under story of a forest under the canopy where they have lots of bright light, but they are protected from harsh direct sunlight.

Whilst majesty palms can grow in relatively low light conditions compared to some houseplants, they often grow much slower and the leaves and stems lean towards the light, creating an unbalanced appearance.

The way to revive a leaning majesty palm is to move the plant to a brighter room and rotate the palm a quarter each time your water (which should be around every 7 days in Spring and Summer and every 10-14 days in the Fall and Winter).

This ensures that the majesty palm leaves, stem and trunk grows in a more uniform, straight manner rather then the leaning appearance.

Key Takeaways:

  • A dying majesty palm is usually because of low humidity, underwatering or overwatering. Majesty palms need high humidity and evenly moist soil. If the soil dries out and the humidity is low, the leaves dry out and turn brown. If the soil is too damp from overwatering the leaves turn yellow and brown with a dying appearance.
  • The lower leaves of majesty palms turn brown, dried out and crispy with a dying appearance as the plant matures. As the plant grows it redirects energy to growing newer leaves at the top of the plant as they receive more light, causing the dying older leaves lower down, to turn brown and crispy.
  • Majesty palm plants turn yellow because of too much direct sunlight, poor drainage or overwatering. Majesty palms grow naturally under a canopy, protected from sunlight. If the leaves are in full sun they turn yellow and with a scorched appearance. Too much moisture around the roots causes turns the leaves yellow due to root rot.
  • The reason for majesty palm leaves drying out is because of low humidity and dry soil from underwatering. Low humidity saps moisture from the majesty leaves, quicker then the roots can draw up water, causing the leaves to dry out, turn brown and crispy.
  • The reason for majesty palm plants leaning is usually because it is in too much shade or the plant is growing towards the strongest source of light. Majesty palms prefer bright, indirect light and the pot should be turned 45 degrees every time you water to help the palm grow straight rather then leaning.
  • To revive a dying majesty palm, replicate their preferred natural conditions by misting the leaves to increase the humidity, watering with a generous soak every 7 days and maintaining a temperature range of 65ºF and 75ºF. Snip off any brown, dying leaves to stimulate healthy green growth.

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