Cat Palm - Knowledgebase Question

Duluth, Ge
Question by brittaindijo
February 24, 2010
Why are the leaves of my Cat Palm turning yellow?

Answer from NGA
February 24, 2010


Cat palms, also called cataract palms and cascade palms, are originally from the jungles of Central America where they grow on stream banks. If your cat palm has fronds that are turning yellow or brown, there are techniques you can use to identify the problem, correct it, and restore your plant to good health.

Look for whitish deposits in the soil around your cat palm, an indication of salts in tap water, and a common cause of leaf problems in cat palms. If you see the deposits, leach out the salts by drenching the soil until water runs out the bottom of the container, and repeating many times in succession. If you have hard water, use only distilled water for watering and misting your cat palm in the future.

Check the undersides of your cat palm's fronds for cobwebby material, a sign of spider mites. Cat palms are extremely susceptible to these tiny pests, and can even die from a bad infestation. Use a magnifying glass to confirm the presence of the minuscule, reddish-brown spidery insects. Treat by spraying forcefully with a hose to knock the mites off, and mist your cat palm daily to discourage further infestation as spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions.

Examine your cat palm for the presence of mealybugs, which cause yellowing and then browning of leaves by sucking the juices from the plant. If your cat palm has mealybugs, you will see small, oval cottony dots on the leaves. To control mealy bugs, dab each one with a Q-Tip dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Check for roundish, waxy bumps on stems of fronds, a sign of scale insect infestation. Smother the scale with ultra-refined horticultural oil.

Evaluate the light you are giving your cat palm; both insufficient light and too much light can contribute to leaf problems. Cat palms are under story trees in their native environment and need filtered light. Mature, well-established cat palms can tolerate direct sun, but too much sun can scald the leaves. Move your cat palm to different lighting, if possible, to alleviate the problem.

Finally be sure to water your cat palm until water runs out the bottom of the drainage holes to guard against under-watering, manifested by leaf tips turning brown.

Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Answer from WillC
January 20, 2018


Although Cat Plams want protection from direct sun, they do require lots of very bright indirect sun. Indoors they should be within several feet of a sunny, uncovered window.

It is also important to never let your Cat Palm get too dry. Although the soil should not be kept constantly wet, it will need water as soon as the surface of the soil feels almost dry or just barely damp.

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