The Q&A Archives: Wilted fronds on palm

Question: I have a large Mexican Palm outdoors. The leaves are strong and healthy except for several fronds on many of the leaves that are wilted and hang down. Am I doing something wrong or is there something I can feed the plant with so all fronds will stand proud!

Answer: It is really difficult to diagnose a plant problem without actually seeing the plant. With this in mind, the wilting can be caused by wind damage, or your palm may be developing a disease. Two diseases are common:
Fusarium oxysproum, also called Fusarium wilt, is a palm tree fungus. Signs of wilt are fronds wilting, losing their green luster and, finally, dying. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure and the diseased tree may have to be removed. Spores can be spread in a number of ways and it is very important not to spread it inadvertently by means of infected pruning tools. Always remember to clean tools often.

Another common problem is Phytophthora palmivora (bud rot). Bud rot is caused by a fungus which causes the heart fronds of a palm tree to wilt and die. Tree death can occur soon afterward. California and Mexican palms are the most vulnerable. Summer is the worst season for bud rot. Chemicals can be effective in the early stages of the disease. Consult a specialist and follow directions carefully. In all cases where fungal infection is a threat, it is important to prevent the careless spread of spores. Make sure gardening tools are kept clean at all times. Sterilize between finishing work on one tree and starting work on the next.

Let's hope your palm is simply suffering from wind damage!

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