Spindle palm tree problem

Asked January 18, 2015, 12:10 AM EST

Hello!I bought a spindle palm tree in the summer,around 8ft tall and planted it in a large pot. It sat on my patio until beginning of November and when the temperatures starting to go down,I put it inside.I live in zone 7. A couple of weeks before I put it in,it started to get yellow leaves. After it went inside, I put some fertilizer-Palm Gain, hoping it will help the tree. But it continued to go yellow and right now I have all of the fronds with yellow/brown leaves.I have a new stem coming out which is green. Can you please give me an advice on what to do? What did I do wrong? Should I cut the brown leaves?

Cobb County Georgia

1 Response

The palm you have is a Kentia Palm, Howea forsteriana. They're very popular as an indoor plant but don't grow well outdoors here because they are not cold hardy. Temperatures, roots, water, fertility or disease could all cause the yellowing leaves. Kentia palms don't tolerate temperatures below 45 F. How cool had the weather gotten before you moved it inside? Is the air inside warm enough or too dry? Mist it sometimes with a spray bottle of water and put rocks in it's drain pan which will allow run off water to create a little humidity around it when it evaporates. Cold hardy palms which can be grown as landscape plants in Georgia can tolerate between 20 F - 0 F depending on the variety. Palms need good root systems and if it hasn't established one that could cause it to decline. Unfortunately some of the palms sold as houseplants don't have strong root systems. Palms need regular watering and good drainage. Does your pot drain well? Do you water it regularly and don't let it get too dry in between watering? Magnesium deficiency can cause leaf yellowing. Check the label of the fertilizer you fed it to see if it contains magnesium. Epsom salts can supply it with Mg if the fertilizer doesn't contain any. Palms can tolerate a wide range of soil types but it must be well draining soil and contain some organic matter such as compost. Kentia palms can tolerate partial shade but do best in bright indirect light. Perhaps the yellowing is caused by the abrupt change from outdoor lighting to indoor lighting which isn't as bright. Finally, Kentia palms are subjet to a disease called Yellowing which eventually kills them. Consider the possibile causes of leaf yellowing compared to how you've been maintainig it and you might determine the cause. Correcting the condition might correct the problem. Those fronds will not reover but you can keep new ones healthy as they grow in. Let the fronds remain on it until they've turned completely brown. Then you can cut them off at the base of the frond where it attaches to the trunk.
I hope I've answered your questions.