Palm trees yellow leaves

Yellow Sago Palm Fronds: Reasons For Sago Leaves Turning Yellow

Sago palms look like palm trees, but they are not true palm trees. They are cycads, a type of plant with a unique reproductive process somewhat like that of ferns. Sago palm plants live many years and grow quite slowly.

Healthy sago leaves are a deep green. If you notice your sago leaves turning yellow, the plant may be suffering from nutrient deficiencies. However, yellow sago palm fronds may also indicate other problems. Read on for information about what to do if you see your sago leaves turning yellow.

My Sago Palm is Turning Yellow

If you find yourself complaining that “My sago palm is turning yellow,” you may want to start fertilizing your plant. A sago palm with yellow fronds may be

suffering from a nitrogen deficiency, a magnesium deficiency or a potassium deficiency.

If it is the older sago leaves turning yellow, the plant is likely suffering from a nitrogen deficiency. With a potassium deficiency, the older fronds also turn yellow, including the midrib. If the leaf develops yellow bands but the central leaf remains green, your plant may have a magnesium deficiency.

These yellow sago palm fronds will never recover their green color. However, if you begin using a general fertilizer in appropriate amounts, the new growth coming in will be green once again. You might try a fertilizer especially for palms that contains three times as much nitrogen and potassium as phosphorus. If you apply this preventatively, you may never have to say “My sago palm is turning yellow.”

Sago Palm with Yellow Fronds – Other Causes

Sagos prefer their soil to be too dry rather than too wet. You should irrigate your plant only when the soil is quite dry. When you do give it water, give it a big drink. You want the water to get down at least two feet in the soil.

Watering a sago palm too much or too little may also result in yellow sago palm fronds. Keep track of how much and how frequently you are watering so that you can figure out which irrigation problem is more likely. Never allow irrigation water to get on the plant’s foliage.

Why Do the Leaves of My Palm Trees Turn to Yellow?
How can you determine if the yellowing of the leaves of your palm tree is natural or bothersome? Read on. As palm trees mature, some of the old fronds become yellow and fall off. Typically, these are the ones at the base of the palm tree. If you see that the big part of the palm tree remains green and naturally falls off the yellow leaves, then there is nothing to worry about.
However, if the yellow leaves last long, it is something that you should address right away. In some instances, palm trees turn to yellow if there are insufficient nutrients such as nitrogen or magnesium in the soil where it is planted. These nutrients are responsible for keeping your palm tree green and thrive properly.
It is also possible that a pest or fungus is causing the yellowing of your palm trees’ leaves. Whatever the case may be, it is challenging to treat an infestation.
Why Do Queen Palms Turn Their Leaves to Yellow?
Queen palms are also vulnerable to the health issues talked about earlier. These trees do well in moisture-rich soil saturated with nutrients so you can begin caring for them through fertilizing the ground to fill in whatever nutritional gap there is.
What to do with Yellow Leaves on a Palm Tree?
We have listed a detailed guide to help you diagnose the health of your palm tree and treat its yellow color.

  • Performing a soil test is an effective way to determine any lacking vital nutrients in your tree. There are stores where you can get a soil test kit and do it yourself. But if you are not confident with doing it on your own, a certified arborist is the best person to turn to.
  • Fill in the missing nutrients with a slow-release fertilizer once you know the nutrients are lacking in your plant’s soil.
  • Route trimming can help keep the tree healthy.
  • Keep a proper fertilization schedule to ensure your tree continues to thrive. Fertilize your tree three or four times a year.
  • If the soil is not the problem, check for signs of fungi or pests. In some cases, a fungus called Ganoderma root is responsible for droopy and withering leaves. There is a significant possibility of a pest if there is a presence of sticky film on fronds.
  • Contact a certified arborist to help you plan the next step if pest or fungus infested your tree.

What Causes a Queen Palm Tree to Turn Yellow?

Growing up to 50 feet tall, the queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) is a regal evergreen that showcases a smooth gray trunk topped with glossy green fronds that may be up to 10 feet long. A queen palm with yellowing leaves probably suffers from a nutrient deficiency, though pests may also be to blame. Fortunately, queen palm is resistant to Lethal Yellowing Disease, a serious palm disease that also causes yellow fronds.

Manganese Deficiency

A queen palm suffering from a manganese deficiency will often produce new leaves that are deformed or bronze or yellow in color. Manganese foliar spray applied directly to the fronds will lead to a faster return to green coloring but are less effective in the long run than soil applications. Make a foliar spray solution by mixing 3 pounds of manganese sulfate per 100 gallons of water. The University of Florida notes that the amount of manganese sulfate needed for a soil application may be anywhere from 8 ounces to 8 pounds, depending on the size of the palm.

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency causes new leaves to yellow. In severe cases, frond tips may yellow and the whole palm may be stunted. Iron deficiency is much more common in container-grown palms than palms grown in the garden, according to the University of Florida Extension. It is often caused by poorly draining soils or from planting the palm too deeply, factors that prevent the palm from absorbing iron. Size permitting, replant the palm in a well-aerated soil at whatever depth it was when you first purchased it. You can also fertilize the palm with a chelated iron fertilizer, as per label recommendations.


Queen palm is susceptible to the palm leaf skeletonizer, a caterpillar that eats away at fronds until just the veins are left, giving the fronds a skeleton-like appearance. An early infestation may resemble a nutrient deficiency, as the leaves will look yellow or bronze. You can wash larvae off container plants with a sponge and taller palms with a high-powered hose. It is also possible that nothing is wrong with your palm: It is normal for older queen palm fronds to die and remain on the tree.


Queen palm requires well-draining, acidic soil. Planting the queen palm in alkaline soil is a surefire recipe for mineral deficiencies and poor growth. A sickly palm that is stressed due to poor cultural conditions is more likely to attract diseases and pests than a healthy, happy palm. Queen palm is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9B through 11, where it requires full or partial sunlight and regular irrigation.

Is your Sago Palm turning yellow? If so, you are not alone!

First, understand that the Sago palm tree (Cycas revoluta) is not a true palm tree at all.

In fact, it is a relative of the pine tree that has been around since prehistoric times.

These hardy, slow-growing Asian trees look quite tropical but can survive temperatures down to 15° degrees Fahrenheit.

Hardy though they are, Sago palm plants can fall prey to a number of different problems and all of these may manifest as yellowing leaves.

In this article, we will share information to help you figure out what is plaguing your plant and what you can do about it.

#1 – Sago Palm Yellowing From Insect Infestation aka Plant Scale

Scale insects may attack sago palm yellow leaves. However, the Asian scale is one pest often found in Florida.

These types of pests can usually be found on the undersides of the leaves where they attach themselves and suck the sap.

When you find cycad scale, remove the infested leaves and destroy them. Don’t toss them into your compost heap.

Treat Sago with a horticultural oil spray to prevent further infestation. However, it is best to simply prevent introducing scale insects to your collection.

As a part of your Sago palm care inspect any plant you’re considering buying for pests before you bring it home and scout regularly for pests.

NOTE: There has been some success controlling Asian scale using coffee. Our PlantCareToday article looks at Sago Palm scale and Asian scale.

Cycas revoluta leaves covered with Asian cycad scale bugs

#2 – Soil Nutrient Deficiencies Equals Leaves Turning Yellow

Sago palms lacking in manganese or magnesium may also exhibit yellow leaves. Feed your Sago palm with a slow-release fertilizer that is high in magnesium and potassium.

If the color change manifests in streaks and spots, suspect a manganese deficiency.

Chelated manganese applied in a foliar application can help remedy this problem as can manganese sulfate applied as a soil drench.

Be sure that any fertilizer applied contains trace minerals and chelated iron for plants to help keep the leaves green.

As your plant begins to display green, new growth, cut back the yellow older leaves.

#3 – Too Much Fertilizer

Excessive fertilizing can cause Sago palm fronds to turn yellow.

Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow them.

Excessive fertilizing can lead to the buildup of mineral salts.

When the plant uptakes too many minerals, it can burn both the leaves and the plant tissues.

When this happens, the edges of the leaf become discolored, turn brown and curl first, and then the damage moves in toward the mid-rib of the leaf.

#4 – Sago Palm Sunburn

Too much sun can burn or bleach the leaves. It’s possible to grow Sago palm in full sun, but you must give sagos plenty of time to acclimate.

It’s really best to locate your Sago palm in an area with bright light and partial shade. In this sort of setting you will get larger leaves with better color.

Be sure to keep newly propagated plants and seedlings protected in a cooler, filtered shade or low light setting.

#5 – Freezing

Even though Cycas revoluta palms can survive extreme cold, they may still suffer ill effects.

Cold weather can cause leaves of Sagos to become yellow.

This happens because the roots are not able to uptake nutrients from the soil is well in cold weather.

When this happens, you simply have to wait for warmer weather.

Leaves may even freeze and yellow or brown.

If this happens, leave the dead leaves in place until the weather turns warm then cut all the leaves off back to the trunk.

New leaves should soon take their place.

#6 – Over Or Under Watering

Both under watering and overwatering can cause Cycas palms to develop yellow leaves.

When you water too much, you run the risk of root rot which results in nutrient deficiencies.

When planting in containers use well-drained soil. Keep it moist, but don’t allow the plant to stand in water.

When watering, water completely and allow the potting soil to dry completely before you water again. Typically, you should water your Sago palm about once a week.

#7 – Disturbances

Shock can cause leaves to yellow. If you disturb the root ball by digging and moving the plant abruptly from one setting to another, expect the leaves to turn yellow and even fall off.

After adjusting to its new home and roots become established, the plant should put out you, green leaves.

Once you have your Sago palm in place, it’s best to leave it there as these are similar to ficus trees in that they will lose their leaves if you move them around too much.

When Sagos are moved from one place to another, the leaves may be bruised.

When you purchase a Sago and bring it home, it may take some time for this slow grower to adjust, and it may already have bruised leaves which will manifest as fading leaves.

Locate your Sago in an area where it won’t encounter a lot of foot traffic with animals or people brushing up against the limbs.


The Cycas (Sago) are popular gardening landscape plants in southern California and Florida. You can find them in most garden centers.

They are slow healthy growers. When you encounter your palm tree leaves turning yellow it will take some time to recover.

Be patient! These wonderful plants are worth the effort.

Leave Turn Yellow On My Fan Palm Tree – Knowledgebase Question

California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)
Posted by angele
Palms may or may not retain their old leaves, so what you’ve observed may be normal for the plant. The fans can be cut off if they’re unattractive to you. It’s not unusual for palms to have just one row of leaves at the top of the trunk.
If your palms are acting differently than they have in the past, they may need to be fed, or they may need a deeper soaking than the sprinklers are giving them. Periodic deep soakings will also leach salts away from the roots. If you can get up to the top of the palm to inspect the leaves, you may find spider mites (look for webbing between the leaf fans and the stem). An infestation of spider mites can turn leaves brown prematurely. To avoid the problem, hose the foliage down every few weeks to remove the dust and any spider mites that might have taken up residence. If you want to feed your palm, you can spread several inches of organic matter over the roots so the nutrients released as the organic matter decomposes will trickle down into the soil, or you can broadcast an 8-8-8 complete fertilizer over the root zone. Palms are sensitive to salts, so don’t apply any more fertilizer than the label recommends or you’ll burn the roots. Your palm may not start growing again until next spring, but if you feed it, and water it regularly, it should perform well.

Yellow Leaves on a Palm Tree

Palm tree leaves naturally turn yellow, then brown as they age. Yellowing that occurs in patterns on the leaves or on a large number of leaves is not normal aging. Nutritional deficiencies are the most common culprit and can be treated easily. More rarely, yellowing could be the result of disease.

Potassium Deficiency

The most common nutritional deficiency in palms is potassium. Symptoms vary, but always appear on the oldest leaves first. Leaves may be mottled yellow or patterned brown at the tip, yellow in the middle and green at the base.

Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency affects older leaves first. The leaves turn yellow along the outside edge, while the center remains green.

Manganese Deficiency

Manganese deficiency first appears on older leaves. Wide bands of yellow streak the edges of the leaf, while the center portion remains green.


Nitrogen deficiency is more common among container raised palms. All leaves become a light green, then turn uniformly yellow.


Iron deficiency affects the newest leaves. The leaves emerge uniformly yellow.

Lethal Yellowing Disease

Lethal yellowing of palms destroyed coconut palms and other palms throughout the Caribbean and Florida. Yellowing begins at the bottom of the canopy and progresses to the top of the canopy. The condition is fatal.

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