Why Are My Majesty Palm Leaves Curling?

Majesty palms are incredibly beautiful houseplants that can grow over 98 feet tall! Their leaves are typically thin and fan out, so they’re almost fern-like.

Taking care of a majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis) can be a feat to some—but such is the case with most plants of this species (the Arecaceae family). That’s why it’s never a good sign when you notice your majesty palm leaves curling.

Not to fret, though. This extensive guide will cover the most common causes behind the curling of the majesty palm leaves and the many measures you can take to solve this issue quickly.

Why Are My Majesty Palm Leaves Curling?
Photo by Judgefloro, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s dive right in!

Why Are My Majesty Palm Leaves Curling?

While you should worry about your majesty palm’s leaves curling, there’s no need to panic just yet. All hope’s not lost. 

In fact, the majesty palm and other plants in the Arecaceae family are constantly curling their leaves.

In other words, this is a common phenomenon that occurs a lot with these houseplants. 

That’s mainly because the curling of their leaves is their first line of communicating to you that they’re struggling in one way or another.

So, with that in mind, this section will cover the eight main reasons that may be the culprits behind the curling of your majesty palm’s leaves.

1. Low or High Humidity Levels

One thing to remember about your wondrous majesty palm is that it’s a tropical plant. 

As such, it thrives best in adequate humidity levels and doesn’t do well in an air-conditioned room or cold spaces.

It’s only natural for the plant’s leaves to curl in response to the low humidity levels where you’re keeping it.

Even heaters can cause the humidity to drop significantly, affecting the majesty palm’s health.

2. Under or Overwatering

Watering plants of the Arecaceae family can be tricky. Why? 

Because you need to be fair with how often you water them while not running the risk of underwatering the soil. That’s because, either way, your plant’s leaves will curl in response.

That’s why it’s essential that you learn about your majesty palm and know how much water this plant will typically need. 

Watering requirements differ from plant to plant, but the universal rule is to never let them sit in water, or else their roots rot.

3. Malnutrition

Just like water, fertilizing your plant is also important. 

You need to know when the majesty palm flowering seasons are—spring and summer—and fertilize the soil accordingly. Another golden rule is to add fertilizer every two or three months.

When you let the plant starve or forget to fertilize it, the leaves curl. Not only that, but the leaves will begin to yellow and wilt.

You may also notice the majesty palm’s poor growth—another sign of malnutrition!

4. Overfertilization

Did you know that overfertilizing your plant may cause what’s known as fertilizer burn? It’s not a pretty sight to see at all. 

Besides the leaves curling, they’re likely to have crisp brown or yellow edges as well.

Many beginners fall into this trap as they believe that the more fertilizer, the better.

The reality is, however, that overfertilization often has an adverse effect as it may cause the plant to die out rather quickly.

5. Insufficient or Excessive Light

As with watering and fertilizing, the amount of light you subject your majesty palm to should also be adequate.

In other words, don’t leave the plant in direct sunlight, but don’t keep it somewhere too dim, either. You need to find a balance!

Additionally, this plant, like any, needs enough light to perform photosynthesis and be able to grow. Sun exposure curls the palm’s leaves, causing them to burn after a while. 

Alternatively, dim lighting means the leaves curl and brown to find light elsewhere.

6. Using Tap Water

Another rookie mistake many people make is using tap water to quench their plant’s thirst. Tap water, unfortunately, is just as harmful to plants as it is for humans to consume. 

That’s due to the high amounts of concentrated salts and minerals typically found in tap water—most of which your palm shouldn’t be feeding on. 

Not only do they alter the soil’s pH levels, but these deposits also discolor the leaves. 

7. Incorrect Soil Type

Soil type has a significant effect on how well any plant thrives. After all, the soil is the home where the plant puts down its roots (get it?), so it needs to be up to standard.

Note, of course, that different plants require different types of soil.

The majesty palm, for instance, shouldn’t be kept in soils that retain too much water, such as clay. These compact soils will directly lead to the leaves curling. 

Instead, make sure the palm is placed in well-aerated soil, like silt or loam, for example.

8. A Pest Problem

A pest problem is likely the cause of your majesty palm’s leaves curling if you haven’t been taking care of it for quite some time now. 

Usually, pests don’t appear until they’re sure the breeding grounds, or the plant, is suitable for them to nest.

That said, below, you’ll find the few common bugs that may feed on your palm leaves, making them curl.


Aphids are avid lovers of the palm’s kind of foliage. They reproduce rather quickly, blocking the sunlight and forming mold on the leaves’ surface.

Additionally, aphids may transport deadly viruses to the plant as well. They stun its growth while forcing its leaves to turn yellow and wilt.


Spider mites are smaller spiders that sink their teeth, like vampires, into a plant’s foliage only to suck out its life force.

Like aphids, mites’ numbers can triple quickly if not handled immediately.

You may first notice some white webbing and pale specks on your leaves. These are sure signs that you have a mite problem on your hands.


Thrips, while a lesser-known type of pest, are hard to eliminate once you get them. It isn’t easy to identify or spot thrips as well.

Thrips work fast to suck the sap out of plant cells and are even smaller than spider mites! They dry out the palm leaves so they curl up in response.


From their name, whiteflies are white—almost translucent—pests that attack a plant’s leaves in a similar fashion to that of aphids and thrips.

Whiteflies appear as white clusters on the bottom of the leaves. They secrete a sugary solution that mimics what aphids release to create black, moldy spots.


Mealybugs can be quite an issue because their effect doesn’t stop at the leaves; you’ll find them attacking the plant’s soil, too.

You might find mealybug eggs attached to the stems and foliage of your majesty palm. These pests infect the plant, causing leaves to discolor, eventually leading to your palm’s death.

How Do I Fix My Majesty Palm Curling Leaves?

With the proper care guide, your majesty palm will be back to normal in no time. So long as you keep meeting the plant’s needs, there’ll be no need for it to angrily curl its leaves at you.

1. Stick to a Proper Watering Schedule

For starters, ensure that only the top two inches of your soil are wet whenever you water the palm.

Let that space dry out every now and then as well. Simply put, you don’t need to water the soil that often!

2. Create a Suitable Indoor Environment

Purchase a humidifier so the temperature levels indoors remain at 65 to 85 degrees. 

Get the right houseplant fertilizer while at it—one that contains a high percentage of nitrogen content to keep the plant healthy.

3. Say No to Direct Sun and Drafts

On top of that, make sure that your majesty palm gets enough filtered light throughout the day. 

Avoid placing it near uncurtained windows or underneath direct sunlight. Air vents and heaters are other places to steer clear of as well.

4. Replace Tap with Distilled

While tap water is widely available to most, your plants can only thrive on distilled water. If you don’t have access to purified water, create your own. 

Luckily, the process is relatively easy and will help you save a few bucks, too.

5. Keep an Eye Out for Pests

As a preventive measure, remember to constantly look for the pests we’ve discussed earlier.

Since they reproduce quickly, you must handle them as soon as possible. That can only happen if you catch the bugs early.

In Summary

So, have you noticed that your majesty palm leaves are curling?

This can be a sign pointing toward many problems, so it’s best that you dive deeper and find out what exactly your beautiful plant is suffering from.

The causes we went through today should cover your needs. Go over the reasons mentioned above to find out where you went wrong, then follow up with one of the solutions we’ve offered you. Happy gardening!

Related: Why Is My Majesty Palm Drooping?