Q. My majestic palm leaves are yellow and green. How do I correct that and how can I keep them thriving through winter?
Yellowing leaves are a common problem for palm trees grown indoors including the majestic palm (Ravenea rivularis) and can happen for a number of reasons. Here is what to look for to determine the cause.
If the entire leaf is mottled or streaky yellow and green, it is most likely to be caused by the roots getting dried out during the summer months. During the growing season, water your palm until water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Allow the top inch or so of soil to dry before re-watering and never let the root ball become completely dry. During the winter, let your plant have a rest and reduce watering to suit the winter temperature of the room and the shorter days. At this point in the year, your palm can benefit from soil that is kept barely moist for a period of approximately two months.
Brown or yellow leaf spots or splotches are often a signal that the plant is being over-watered, the soil is not draining well or a sign of sudden temperature change. Drainage is an essential part of palm care and a potted palm should rest on one to three inches of small stones or pebbles in the base of the pot. Regular potting soil is fine with added peat and perlite. A hole in the bottom of the pot is a must for this plant. Keep temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees and do not subject the plant to temperature shocks from open windows, dramatic shifts in location, air conditioning or heating vents.
If lower leaves are gradually turning yellow and then brown, that can be a natural aging process and these leaves may be trimmed off.
Palms grow slowly and do not need a lot of fertilizer but they can suffer from a number of nutritional deficiencies. About two, summer-time, half-strength feedings with a palm-specific, slow-release food is adequate. Do not allow the soil to become compacted so that nutrition is restricted.
You can find additional information in our Guide to Palm Plants Indoors. Good luck with your palm!
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service
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