The Q&A Archives: What would cause my Queen Palms to turn yellow?

Question: What would cause my Queen Palms to turn yellow? The entire frond is starting to turn yellow from the base to the tips? They used to be such a deep healthy green. They were planted approximately 1-1/2 years ago.

Answer: It's difficult to say what might be affecting your palm. It's normal for the oldest fronds to eventually die - if your Queen Palm is putting out healthy new fronds and only the oldest fronds are yellowing, it's a normal occurance. If the newest fronds are exhibiting a yellowish color, the roots are showing stress from either water (too much or too little) or the plant needs to be fertilized.

Water deeply, so that the soil is wetted to a depth of two feet. Palm roots will extend out as far
as irrigation is provided from the trunk. Water out from the trunk a minimum of four feet. A
watering basin can be made by forming a circling ridge of soil several inches high.

Fertilize with "palm special" fertilizer. Palms have exacting needs when it comes to nutrients. Scientific research has determined the best ratios of macro and micro nutrients. These are nowavailable in so-called "palm special" fertilizers. Not all such fertilizers are the real thing. Look on the label to make sure the nutrients are in the following proportions: nitrogen (10% to 20%), phosphorous (5% to 10%), potassium (10% to 20%), magnesium (2% to 5%), and (.5%) of manganese and iron. It should also contain sulfur and trace amounts of zinc and copper. Nitrogen and potassium should be in equal percentages and in a slow release form.

Dry, granular fertilizer should be broadcast or banded under the canopy of the palm, or equally distributed around the drip emitters. Never place fertilizer against the trunk. One application in March and another in June or early July should be adequate. For palms under eight feet tall, 2-5 lbs of fertilizer per feeding should be adequate. Newly planted palms can receive even less (? to
2 lbs depending on the size). Large, mature palms should receive 5 to 8 lbs each application.

Queen palms are often deficient in manganese, not to be confused with magnesium. Manganese deficiency on Queen palm causes the new leaves to become yellow or brown and frizzled, which gives this disorder it's common name: "frizzle top". New growth is crinkled and distorted. Correction of this deficiency requires the addition of manganese sulfate to the soil, and as a spray on the new growth.

Best wishes with your Queen Palm!

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