My Majesty Palm Is Turning Yellow, What Can I Do?

This majestic plant is a common choice for plant lovers. As well as imbuing homes with a touch of an exotic paradise, they are surprisingly easy to take care of with their slow, yet steady growth and their ability to thrive indoors, given the right amount of light. 

Versatile and elegant, this tree is native to tropical Madagascar. River banks and other moisture-heavy areas are favoured locations as long as it doesn’t become water-logged and receives neither full sun nor full shade. 

Of course, we all want our plants to thrive, given the amount of care and attention we afford them. So to see a robust and healthy plant turning yellow and beginning to wilt can be very disappointing.

In this article, I’ll be talking through the various causes of yellowing leaves on Majesty Palms, as well as sharing how to effectively treat and prevent this from happening to your prized palm.  

Causes of Majesty Palm With Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves are the result of a process called ‘chlorosis’ that occurs when a plant’s chlorophyll is compromised. Every plant needs chlorophyll to give them its green colour to assist with healthy photosynthesis and cell regeneration. 

One of the most common causes of chlorosis is overwatering. In addition to yellow leaves, symptoms will also be accompanied by wilting and limp leaves. 

Predictably, the other common cause of yellow leaves is underwatering. Tempting as it may be to over-compensate by flooding the roots with water, balance is the key. 

There are a few other common problems that lead to plant leaves yellowing including nutrient deficiencies, pest infestations and burning or scorching. Even something as simple as the wrong pot size can stress a plant into yellowing.

Fortunately, all of these issues can be addressed if caught in time, and you will stand a good chance of being able to save your palm by taking some simple but effective remedial action. 

My Majesty Palm Is Turning Yellow

Overwatered Majesty Palm

Over-watering is without doubt the most common problem I encounter when people reach out to me looking for advice. Not only does water saturation prevent the plant’s roots from taking in essential oxygen it can also lead to root rot leading to devastating results. 

To get to grips with an overwatered palm, I advise looking at drainage as well as the frequency of your watering routine. Make sure you are using well-draining potting soil and a pot or container with drainage holes at the bottom.

How to Fix

I find the best solution when it comes to avoiding water issues is to thoroughly water your palm over a sink and allow the water to drain through the holes at the bottom of the pot before returning it to its decorative container. 

This is a surefire way to make sure the soil is moist rather than soaked. 

Make sure the soil in the top half of the pot has dried out completely before watering your Majesty’s palm. Aeration also helps friendly microbes develop and improves oxygen flow. 

Other than yellow leaves, the other tell-tale signs of root rot include foul-smelling soil and soil fungus. If you detect either of these, now is the time to check the roots of your plant by removing them from the pot. 

Healthy roots will be firm to the touch and cream or white. Diseased roots will be mushy and squishy. 

Remove all traces of diseased roots as soon as possible with sanitized scissors. Once roots have dried out, you should re-pot your majesty palm in fresh potting soil and a clean pot.

Underwatered Majesty Palm

Underwatering may not only manifest in yellowing leaves but they are likely to turn brown and break off. 

If the soil has dried out excessively, any water you subsequently give it may not be absorbed properly. 

How to Fix

The best way to revive an underwatered Majesty palm is with a combination of careful pruning, followed by a regime of misting with distilled water and gently rehydrating the soil over time. 

Many people schedule specific times to water their majesty palm. I strongly recommend paying attention to your palm and learning to pick up on the cues to gauge the right time to water.

I prefer to simply stick my finger in the palm’s soil to test the dampness of the soil. When the top half feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water!

If you are still having difficulty determining the right moment to water, it might be worth buying a moisture meter which will test not only the top few inches of soil but the roots. The root ball tends to leech water and hold on to it even though the topsoil may feel bone dry. 

Poor Choice Of Soil Mix

Underestimating the huge role soil plays in plant health is a common mistake. Not only does it contain vital nourishment but it is a support structure and water filtration system aiding both drainage and retention. 

The ideal mix for Majesty Palm should contain the following:

  • 1 part sand
  • 1 part peat moss or coco coir
  • 1 part loam

As the months go by, your Majesty Palm’s soil may compact and stop absorbing water. You can use a dowel or a chopstick to break up this stagnancy and increase aeration. 

How to Fix 

If you didn’t pot or plant your palm yourself and are unsure of the soil substrate used, I recommend re-planting using a good quality and well-draining soil mix or making your own using my recipe above.

Aphid Infestation

The majority of aphids are generically known as greenflies or blackflies. These unwanted visitors are a fairly regular obstacle when cultivating houseplants but the palm aphid is a little different. 

The female does not move and this can make them tricky to spot or easy to mistake for lint. 

The good news is they are unlikely to kill your palm, however, they tend to leave behind a sugary residue which attracts sooty mould fungus. 

How to Fix 

If you have identified an aphid problem, you can perform first aid by spraying your palm with soapy water, miticide or horticultural oil. Wipe the leaves with rubbing alcohol and water.

I don’t recommend you switch up these treatments as doing so can stop your palm from building immunity and doubling down. 

Inconsistent Light Exposure

If your Majesty’s palm is deprived of light, it can’t make the energy that it needs to feed new leaves. This is because plants collect light through their cells, which in turn create proteins to provide energy. 

According to the University of Florida, Majesty’s palm requires bright, yet indirect light and too much intense light can cause leaves to turn yellow.

How to Fix 

The ideal location for your Majesty palm is in a position which allows 6 hours of light per day. During winter months, this will be even more important. 

For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the perfect location is in a South, West or South-West facing window sill. Rotate your plant regularly to avoid scorching.

Why not take a look at How To Propagate Majesty Palm | Ravenea Rivularis

Citations

You may also be interested in reading 10 Fast Growing Palm Trees and Average Growth Rate

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.