Majesty Palm (Ravenea rivularis) is very aptly named due to its genuinely majestic appearance. In the wild, this native of Madagascar can reach a height of approximately 40′ feet. The canopy can spread to be as great as 10′ feet wide.
Away from its native setting, in the United States, this palm does well as an outdoor tree in tropical and semi-tropical settings. It can also be kept as a houseplant or container plant and will typically top out at about 6′ feet tall and a spread of approximately 3′ feet wide.
When kept in a container, this pretty palm does well when kept outdoors during warm months and brought in for the winter. In this article, we address the common problem of yellowing leaves. Read on to learn more.
How Does a Healthy Majesty Palm Look?
A normal, healthy, young Majesty Palm has a green central stem or trunk marked with brown. As the tree matures, this trunk becomes an even, light gray.
Healthy Majesty Palm fronds are quite long and very dark green. Each frond has multiple long, slim leaves along its length. Each healthy leaf curls under slightly and gracefully at the tip.
How Can You Keep A Majesty Palm Green and Healthy?
Majesty Palms will stay healthy and green in conditions that mimic their natural home environment in Madagascar. The tree naturally grows beneath taller trees in a forest setting.
It grows best in moist areas with good drainage, such as along the sloping banks of a stream. It can do well in light settings ranging from partial shade to full sun.
If you happen to live in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11, your Majesty Palm is likely to be very happy outdoors year-round and will probably not develop yellow leaves and will stay quite healthy.
In settings that do not provide these basic necessities, yellowing leaves are a very common symptom of illness and unhappiness amongst Majesty Palms. Growing in many home settings as indoor plants, the air is too dry, the light is too low, and soil moisture is either excessive or not enough. These unbalanced conditions are common causes of yellowing leaves.
Avoid Yellowing Leaves on Majesty Palm by Supplying These 8 Conditions
The best lighting for a Majesty Palm is the type of intermittent sunlight it would receive in the understory of the forest. Too much direct sunlight tends to burn the leaves, causing them to become yellow and then brown.
Although Majesty Palm can do well in relatively low light settings, it will tend to grow slowly. In areas that are quite dark, the plant will not grow at all, and the leaves will turn yellow and fall off. The reason for this is that Majesty Palms, like all plants, need enough sunlight to perform photosynthesis.
Majesty Palm trees kept in very low light levels will continue to develop new leaves on the top, but the lower leaves will turn to yellow fronds and fall off. If this happens, you need to move your Majesty Palm to an area of your home that receives bright, indirect sunlight for at least 6 hours every day.
Another thing that will cause Majesty Palm leaves to yellow and fall is the wrong amount of water. Either overwatering (excess water) or under watering (bone dry) can cause this common issue.
Unlike most plants, the soak and dry method of watering is not recommended for Majesty Palms. Having the soil dry out and then be drenched causes stress for these plants. It’s essential to keep the soil consistently slightly moist.
If you water too little, your Majesty Palm will develop brown leaf tips. If you water too much, the leaves will turn yellow and fall off. Excess water can also lead to root rot.
Well Aerated Potting Mix
Your goal is to provide your Majesty Palm with light, airy, well-draining soil that can be kept consistently moist but never soggy.
In addition to well-draining, loamy soil, you must be certain that your plant’s container has ample drainage holes.
In addition to consistently moist soil, this tropical plant also likes to have consistently moist air. Very low humidity levels will cause new leaves to develop brown edges and then yellow completely.
It’s a good idea to keep a humidifier running near your Majesty Palm. Failing that, you can set up a pebble tray and/or mist the leaves daily to increase the humidity levels.
Temperatures that are too hot or too cold or that change suddenly can also cause leaf damage. Ensure that your plant is always kept in temperatures ranging between 65°F and 80°F without sudden, frequent changes.
Be sure to protect your Majesty Palm against hot or cold drafts. Keep it away from windows and doors that may admit very cold or very hot air. Don’t place your plant near a heating or air conditioning vent.
A Majesty Palm with a nutrient deficiency will also develop yellowing leaves and other signs of illness. For best results, feed your plant using a general houseplant fertilizer with iron once every couple of months during the spring and summer.
It’s also a good idea to sprinkle a little Epsom salts over the surface of the soil surrounding the plant monthly throughout the growing season for added magnesium.
Related: How To Make Plants Green Again
Give your plant the opportunity to rest during the wintertime. Don’t fertilize it during the winter months.
One cause of yellowing leaves is pest or insect infestation. A poorly cared for plant becomes a target for pests such as:
- Spider Mite (Homemade Spider Mite killer)
- Mealy Bugs
Examine your plants frequently for signs of these pests and take steps to eradicate them promptly if you find them.
Majesty Palms, under any sort of stress, will develop yellow leaves, but it is also essential to understand that a certain amount of yellowing and browning of leaves is normal.
If your plant occasionally has a brown or yellow leaf towards the bottom of the plant, this is no reason for concern. Prune this off with a sharp, sterile knife to improve the appearance of the plant.