The Q&A Archives: Palm trees

Question: We have several different varieties of palm trees. What causes the fronds to turn yellow specifically on the Queen palms? Is it some sort of nutritional deficiency. Some of the trees are green and others more yellowish...

Answer: It's difficult to say what might be affecting your palms. It's normal for the oldest fronds to eventually die - if your palms are 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.

Palms have exacting needs when it comes to nutrients. Scientific research has determined the best ratios of macro and micro nutrients and these are available in the special Palm Food fertilizers. Apply as directed on the fertilizer label. This is usually one application in March and another in June or early July.

Queen palms are often deficient in manganese and manganese deficiency usually causes the new leaves to become yellow. You can correct this by applying manganese sulfate to the soil. I'd feed first with a palm tree fertilizer and if that doesn't help green the fronds up, you can apply manganese sulfate.

Best wishes with your palms!

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