Parlor Palm Turning Yellow

Parlor Palm Turning Yellow

Parlor palm plants, scientific name Chamaedorea elegans, are popular houseplants native to the rainforests of Guatemala and Southern Mexico. These elegant palms have deep green foliage and can tolerate low temperatures as well as relatively low light. They grow in attractive clumps, with foliage covering their trunks. However, they can also be prone to disorders that cause their leaves to turn yellow.

Parlor Palm Turning Yellow: What Are The Reasons?

Incorrect watering techniques 

One common reason for yellowing leaves on parlor palms is underwatering, or incorrect watering techniques. The soil could be too dry, resulting in yellow and wilting leaves. Adjust your watering schedule so that your plants become hydrated and are able to absorb sufficient nutrients from the soil. 

If the leaves look jaundiced and the center stalks are soft and turning brown, it could mean that you are overwatering the plants. In this case, hold off watering for a while and monitor the plants. Parlor palms are succulents, so they prefer semi-dry conditions. Allow the soil to dry completely between watering, and water once every two to three weeks.  During the winter months, water more sparingly than in summer. 

Nutrient deficiency 

Yellowing of parlor palms could also be due to nutrient deficiency. Essential nutrients for plants include nitrogen, manganese and magnesium, since these help the plants stay green and grow healthily. To fix this issue, apply fertilizers that are enriched with these nutrients. 

Pest infestation or fungal disease

Yellowing leaves on parlor palms could also be due to pests or fungal infections. Scale insects and spider mites attack plants and feed on plant tissue, resulting in yellow leaves. Fungal diseases like Fusarium wilt could also infect the palm fronds.  

Treatments for pests include insecticidal soaps and neem oil. Fungicides may not entirely wipe out fungal diseases like Fusarium wilt, so you should also prune and dispose of infected leaves to avoid the spread to other plants.

How To Diagnose and Fix Yellowing Parlor Palm Leaves

  • Do a soil test to check for any nutrient deficiencies in the soil. 
  • Apply slow-release fertilizers to replenish the soil with nutrients based on the results of your soil test. 
  • Schedule proper fertilization for your plants – at least three to four times annually. 
  • Check your plants regularly for any signs of fungal infection or pest infestation. 

Parlor Palm Care 

Parlor palms thrive in three-gallon pots and as indoor plants. They are tolerant of lower light conditions, and do not like too much water or overly moist soil. While they are considered low-light palms, they also thrive in bright and filtered sunlight. 

These plants prefer peat-based potting mix if grown indoors. Be careful not to let the potting soil become spongy. They grow well in most types of soil if cultivated outdoors, but they cannot tolerate sandy soil. 

Parlor palms, like most palms, cannot tolerate waterlogged soil or a saturated potting mix. They are sensitive to overwatering, so always keep moisture at an even level. When the top inch of soil feels dry, it is an indication that it is time to water the plants.

These palms can tolerate temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but prefer room temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the plants away from cold drafts from vents, windows and doors during cold weather. They thrive in average humidity, and if they develop dry leaf margins or brown tips, it is likely due to prolonged dry periods or cold drafts. Try raising the humidity level before trying to fix this problem by giving more water. 

Apply weak liquid fertilizers at least once or twice during the growing season, but avoid doing so during winter since these plants are light feeders. 

Common Parlor Palm Varieties 

  • C. Elegans – This popular variety is native to Mexico and Central America and is often used in dish gardens. 
  • C. Erumpens – This bamboo palm originates further south than the earlier variety, is a bit larger, and has more fan-like leaves. 
  • C. Hooperiana – This easy-to-grow variety resembles a kentia palm and has large, dramatic, palm-shaped leaves. 

Conclusion

Parlor palms are popular indoor plants that originated from Central America. Like other plants, they are also prone to disorders that cause yellowing leaves. This is usually due to incorrect watering techniques, but may also be due to nutrient deficiencies, pest infestation or fungal disease.
Image: istockphoto.com / AnSyvanych