What to Do When Your Palm Tree is Dying

What to Do When Your Palm Tree is Dying

Have you noticed the center stalk of your palm tree looking stunted? This could be the first sign that your palm isn’t in good shape. There could be many reasons why your palm tree isn’t doing well. Some of the main causes could be due to insects, lack of nutrients, or climate. Here are some signs your palm tree might need help and how to correct the most common issues your palm tree might face.

A Brown and Shriveled Center Stalk

The center area at the top of the palm tree, or center stalk is the most important part of the palm tree as far as assessing it’s health goes. If you see this area turning brown and shriveling, it’s time to act. Water and fertilize the tree if this is dry. If it feels soft, you make want to cut back on watering.

Lower Fronds Turning Brown

If the lower fronds are turning brown, this is probably no cause for alarm. Simply trim them to allow for new green growth. This is pretty common and natural for most palm trees.

Soft and Prematurely Falling Brown Leaves

If your leaves are falling off early and they don’t feel dried up, you are probably over watering the tree. Cut back on your watering schedule.

Pink Rot

Pink rot is a common disease that affects in coastal humid areas. It can be identifying by pink spore masses on new leaves. This is a secondary disease, so if you see this there are probably other factors weakening your tree. You can also exacerbate the problem by prematurely removing leaves.

Fertilizer Burn

Using too much fertilizer too close to your tree can leave you with root damage and yellowing or discoloration. You can avoid this by using slow release fertilizer and avoiding applying it to wet foliage. If you believe you may have over fertilized, the best thing to do is to try and flush it out with water and wait.

Remove Grass

You may want to remove any grass around the palm tree and surround it with mulch. This will eliminate any competition and prevent lawn mower damage.

Treat for Pests

Treat your tree with a palm safe insecticide to remove any chance your palm is suffer due to an insect problem.


A final thing to consider in South Florida is that it is quite common for palms to get struck by lightning. The effects of being struck by lightning are varied but can include split trunks and will ultimately result in most of the leaves falling due to lack of nutrients from the damaged trunk. There is usually not much you can do to save a lightning damaged palm.

When to Throw in the Towel

How long has the tree been struggling? It’s possible it was planted in a climate not suitable for palm trees. If your center stalk is completely brown, it is most likely dead. Contact an expert to help you remove the tree safely.

Nursing your tree back to health may require expert landscaping assistance. At Garden Services, we are trained at identifying the issues that could be impacting the health of your palm and have years of experience keeping south florida palms looking great.