Why Does My Parlor Palm Have Yellow Leaves? (6 Causes)

The parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) is most known for being an easy, low-maintenance plant. It can tolerate low and bright light and skip water throughout the week.

This plant also does not require much maintenance and is not picky about its soil as long as it is well-drained.

Throughout the lifespan of your parlor palm plant, you will notice leaves yellowing at some point. So, why do the parlor palm’s leaves turn yellow?

While the drought-tolerant plant is great to own due to its simple needs, there are times that the parlor palm can be neglected. The main reasons parlor palm leaves are yellowing are overwatering, overfertilization, and overexposure to sunlight.

Why Does My Parlor Palm Have Yellow Leaves?
Parlor Palm (Photo by Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 US)

Throughout the article, we have listed the reasons and solutions to help you bring your parlor palm back to life.

Yellowing Leaves on a Parlor Palm

Once you have diagnosed your palm’s problem, you must fix the issue at hand.

We’ve listed several reasons and solutions you might want to check out!

1. Too Much Bright Sunlight

Right before the leaves get burnt and brown, the parlor palm leaves will turn light yellow. The discoloration is due to too much sun. This can be through direct or indirect sunlight.

If you have placed your parlor palm in a room that gets sun in multiple directions throughout the day, this could be the source of your problem.

This could also happen if your parlor palm is on a porch or outside.

Move Your Parlor Palm to a Shaded Area

If you notice the yellowing is from too much light, before the leaves get completely burnt, it is time you move your parlor palm.

Move it to a room that only gets sun from the south or west, or place it in a corner that only gets a little light throughout the day.

Moving your parlor palm to a more appropriate place will help with any burning and discoloration.

2. Yellowing Leaves from Overwatering

If you water your parlor palm once a week or more, you may notice some discoloration. This is due to overwatering your plant.

When you overwater your parlor palm, you will notice that the soil is constantly wet, and even water is sitting at the bottom of the pot. Too much water stands in the soil, causing root rot and root damage.

It is important to only water your parlor palm when the soil is completely dry.

The Solution to an Overwatered Parlor Palm

You can trim off the affected roots if you face root rot and unhealthy roots from overwatering. This will allow the healthy roots to regrow.

However, before you put your plant back into its pot, set new, dry, and healthy soil in the container when you repot it.

If you notice that there is no root rot, you can either change the soil or wait until the soil completely dries out before watering it again.

3. Overfertilization

Suppose you have recently fertilized your parlor palm, and the leaves are turning yellow. In that case, the cause of the problem is your fertilizer.

It is important to dilute all the fertilizer, leaving no fertilizer crystals behind. This will help your plant not become overfertilized.

When fertilizing your parlor palm, it is important not to fertilize it too much throughout the year. The palm itself does not require fertilizer like other plants.

So, if you fertilize it, only do so once or twice in the growing period throughout spring and summer.

How to Fix Overfertilization

If you have overfertilized your parlor palm, replace the soil with new soil and not fertilize it again.

Wait until the next growing period, until it is time to fertilize your palm tree.

4. Nutrient Deficiency

If your parlor palm’s leaves are yellowing, this may be due to a lack of its essential nutrients.

To help your parlor palm stay green, it is crucial to see if your plant has appropriate nitrogen, manganese, and magnesium levels.

All of these chemicals and nutrients are found in fertilizer.

How to Fix Insufficient Nutrients

You can apply a small amount of diluted fertilizer in the spring or summer to fix the nutrient levels of your parlor palm. Only use 20-20-20 fertilizer to create well-balanced soil.

5. Pest Infestation

If you notice a pest infestation such as mealybugs, spider mites, or scales, this most likely caused your plant’s yellowing leaves.

Use Insecticide

You can either find spray insecticide or insecticide soap to fix this issue. This will kill all the bugs that are infesting your plant.

It is also important to prune any parts of the plant that are infected immensely and other dead parts.

6. Fungal Disease

Fungal disease can infect your parlor palm’s fronds and create yellowing leaves. You will notice there are brown-looking spots throughout the leaves as well.

Use Fungicide

Fungicide will kill most of the fungus off of your parlor palm.

While using fungicides, it is important to prune and throw away any infected leaves to stop the spread of the fungus.

Diagnosing Your Parlor Palm’s Yellow Leaves

There are several reasons why your parlor palm has yellow leaves. Finding the reason may be more difficult than the solution, so it is important to discover why before mistreating your plant.

It is essential to constantly inspect your plant for any problems before it becomes too late for your parlor palm.

When it comes to your parlor palm, the first indicator that something is wrong is checking for discoloration in its leaves.

If your palm’s leaves are yellowing, there is most likely an issue in the soil, water, sun, or an infestation. To find out what is happening with your parlor palm, check for the following:

  • Do a soil test. This checks for any deficiencies in nutrients in the soil.
  • Test the pH of the soil. The pH of a parlor palm should be neutral to acidic, between 5.5 and 7.0. If the pH is off, you may have given it too much or too little fertilizer.
  • Check if the soil is too wet. Make sure there is no standing water at the bottom of the pot. You should also make sure the soil is completely dry before watering it.
  • Check for pest infestation. This would look like red or brown dots and white webbing.
  • Check for any fungal infections. This would look like yellow leaves with white or brown spots.
  • Check if it is getting too much sunlight. It must get indirect light through a window. However, if the palm is on your porch where the light is bright and often, this may be your problem.

After checking why your parlor palm’s leaves are yellowing, you can properly treat it to look bright and green again.

Related: Parlor Palm & Brown Tips (Causes, Solutions)

Author: Stanislav Lem


Stanislav Lem is the founder of Big Time Living, where he provides tips for gardening, traveling and lifestyle. Stan is an entrepreneur, journalist and traveler.
His mission is to provide information to help people become better planters, travel more and live a happy life. His blog has been featured on Huffpost, Yahoo and MSN.