Why is my Parlour Palm yellow?


I was chatting recently with my photographers John and Amanda when they asked me about their beloved Parlour Palm and why it was turning yellow. My response, “to much love”. That’s right we are sometimes so worried about making sure that our beautiful plants continue living, thriving and looking fantastic, we forget that too much love can be suffocating (this is true for most plants). Don’t worry you’re not alone, I’m guilty of this from time to time, it can be hard to ignore a plant you care for, even when you know you should.

But back to the Parlour Palm – Chamaedorea elegans . So being one of the most common house plants I thought I’ll go through the troubleshot guide with you on why they possibly could be yellowing.

Yellow leaves are usually a result of water stress, mineral deficiency and occasionally even insect damage.

With palms water issues are generally the cause if a few of the leaves are turning yellow. Mineral deficiencies will occur in a broader fashion. Insect damage usually presents itself with other signs before the leaves turn yellow. With that said we need to examine the leaves to see if we can pin point the problem and if you’re like me you will tend to closely examine your plant on a weekly basis.

First, to rule out insects you need to look at both the top and the bottom of the leaf, remembering to pay careful attention as insects can be well suited to their environment and hard to spot. If you find that your palm does have an issue with little yellowing pests, spray them with the appropriate insecticide “organic options are always best”.

Now to check for mineral deficiencies. Do you see brown or orange spots on your palm leaves? Is the yellow in a band across the leaf and not from the tip down? This could be a mineral deficiency and will need the proper fertilizer to correct it. Once again your local garden centre and nursery can help you.

Now to what I really think the problem could be, transplant shock and water practices.

Did you repot your palm when you brought it home or recently find your plant a wonderful new pot? If so, the soil maybe too heavy or may not be draining well.

You pot should have drainage holes to allow excess water to drain away from the plant. Palms need a moist but well drained soil. It should never be soggy yet the root ball should be moist throughout not just on the top. Palms also like humidity so misting them can help.

Beyond Sunflowers Tip*: I keep mine within another pot without a drainage whole; so plastic pot in a ceramic pot so we can easily remove any excess water.

Remember palms in general like bright light but directly in front of a window is not a good place for them. So check you light exposure as well as your water practice.

Above all don’t panic. The yellow leaves could also be a natural reaction to moving. Transplant shock occurs in every plant. Sometimes the plant exhibits signs of transplant shock and other times there will be no sign.

I recommend the wait and see approach. Take care of the palm the way palms like to be taken care and wait at least two weeks before you do anything drastic. The yellowing leaves should start to decrease and the plant should settle into its new home.


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