An overwatered palm tree is quite troublesome as it becomes vulnerable to several health, growth, and appearance problems. These concerns include root rot, leaf loss, wilted fronds, brown leaf tips, dropping leaves, nutrient deficiencies, and stunted growth.
Overwatering emanates from numerous issues that include soil type used, watering frequency, and the pot’s drainage properties.
If your plants are showing any overwatering signs, and you do not know what is causing this difficulty happening or how to solve it, read through this article.
- Why Is the Cause of Overwatering Palm Tree?
- How to Fix an Overwatered Palm Tree
Why Is the Cause of Overwatering Palm Tree?
Overwatering of a palm tree emanates from the use of water-holding soils, poor management of changes in environmental conditions, too frequent irrigation, and the use of containers with poor drainage qualities.
Although it is a plant that requires a lot of water, but too much of it will be problematic.
– Poorly Drained Soils
Poorly drained or heavy soils are more prone to waterlogging. If the palm tree’s roots sit in continuously wet soil, they fail to absorb adequate oxygen that is needed for the plant’s upkeep. Once the roots get low oxygen for a long time, they will start decaying, ultimately failing to supply the palm plants with the needed water and nutrients.
You should bear in mind that heavy soils are more susceptible to compaction. They do not allow water to go through them easily.
Also, compacted soil makes it difficult for the palm tree’s roots to absorb enough oxygen and nutrients. The manifestation of rot-causing fungal pathogens like the Phytophthora ssp is rampant in poorly drained soils, as they thrive in prolonged wetness.
Once the soil becomes waterlogged and the palm tree’s roots become damaged, this will cause their defense against rot-causing organisms to be weakened. Your palms will respond by looking sickly and eventually die if action is not taken promptly.
– Changes in Environmental Conditions
Factors like temperatures, humidity, and sunlight intensity have a huge impact on the watering aspect of your palm plants.
During the spring and summer seasons, temperatures and sunlight are high, causing water loss both from the plant and the soil to increase.
In response to this situation, the soil dries up quickly, and you should replenish the lost water more frequently. The latter will be when you water them because you see the soil constantly dry.
However, overwatering usually happens to indoor palm trees during the winter period when sunlight and temperatures hit their lowest. Water loss becomes very low, resulting in less need for frequent irrigation.
Additionally, during the cold season, your palm plants’ water requirements are minimal due to dormancy. If you continue with the same water replenishment frequency you were using during the growing season, overwatering will be the result of it.
If the environment has too much humidity, water loss from the plant and potting soil declines. In high-humidity situations, continuously irrigating your palm trees will saturate the soil unnecessarily and the plant will be exposed to rotting, discoloration of foliage, and stunted growth.
– Wrong Watering Time
Although water is an important ingredient in the growth and upkeep of palm trees, it should be limited. If you do not give the soil enough time to dry out before watering again, overwatering problems will result. Despite having the soil and pot draining well, too frequent watering also keeps the soil deeply wet all the time.
Palm trees grow well in moist but not soggy soil, so if you are leaving the soil soggy day after day, or it is still soggy after a while that you have watered, but you still water it again, this is how your plant would be left overwatered.
You should bear in mind that indoor palms experience a lower rate of water loss compared to outdoor-grown ones. Keep in mind that, do not treat an indoor palm tree the same as an outdoor grown one on the watering aspect. Hence, note that the rate at which water is lost determines the irrigation frequency.
Here is a general rule of thumb: Before watering palm plants, dip your finger into the soil to check if it is dry enough for the next irrigation, don’t water it if you feel the moisture level.
– Poorly Drained Pots
Palm trees do not enjoy sitting in soil that has too much water for a long time, as it affects their growth. Note that poorly drained pots do not allow water to move out of the system easily, causing waterlogging.
The reason for the latter is that it takes longer for the soil to dry up when the escape holes are too small or few. In this case, the roots will be exposed to sogginess for a long time.
You will notice your palm trees starting to discolor, wilt, and grow slowly if waterlogged conditions are prolonged. If not solved quickly, palm tree root rot extends to the overwatered palm tree’s stem, leading to the loss of the whole plant.
It is important to bear in mind that, you may have used well-draining potting soil on your palm trees but, if the pot drains poorly, the problem remains. Hence, make sure that the drained water does not remain in the proximity of the pot.
How to Fix an Overwatered Palm Tree
To fix overwatering, adopt a proper watering schedule, prune off the damaged fronds, treat the root rot, repot the plant, move the tree to a shaded place to receive some indirect light, and lastly you may have to expose the tree to a proper care routine.
Once you come across any overwatering signs on your palm trees, you should not panic. Your palm trees have a great chance of revival if given the right corrective measures timely.
However, note that overwatering is one of those problems that need prompt attention because, in severe circumstances, its effects cannot be reversed. Unfortunately, if your palm plant has been attacked by severe rot, you should just discard it.
– Proper Watering Schedule
The first and most prominent step to a severely overwatered palm tree’s recovery is to stop watering it for at least one week, as this would be a quick solution. Despite your palm trees looking thirsty at times, do not irrigate them, as this is part of the journey to recovery from the heavy watering.
Remember, the cause of concern here is too much water, so in this case, you would not like to add more of it to the system before the plant recovers.
Too much water also leads to nutrient deficiency symptoms, for instance, chlorosis. When the soil is frequently deep watered, nutrients get flushed out. The leaves of your overwatered evergreen plant will begin to lose their vibrancy and start turning yellow.
We, therefore, advise you not to water it heavily at first but then try to recover it from the shock and after a week, try to water it twice a week, or once every four days. And then, you may regulate the schedule to one inch of water twice or three times a week.
– Prune off all Damaged Fronds
Remove all the damaged, brown, and yellowing leaves from the overwatered palm tree so that it grows new ones. Remember to use bacteria-free tools only when pruning the foliage.
We advise you to make clean and neat incisions so that the plant can easily heal and regrow new leaves. If this procedure is done during spring or early summer, your palm trees will have ample time to bounce back.
Note that the old leaves will not grow back, because thy have been shocked with the heavy water, and they will degenerate, but that is not a discouragement, since the plant will grow back new leaves once the old ones are pruned away and new care has been given to.
Another important point to note is that if you see the palm tree leaves turning brown, there is a possibility that the roots may be damaged, leading to a reduced water supply to the plant.
In such a scenario, the leaves will not be turning brown because the soil does not have enough moisture but, the roots are failing to absorb enough moisture for the palm’s upkeep.
– Check and Treat Root Rot
If your palm tree does not respond to the limited watering satisfactorily, this is the proper time to check the roots for rot. The smell of rot and black roots also stand as signs of overwatering outdoor palm trees.
When the palm tree’s roots are rotten, they won’t be able to absorb enough water to keep the plant alive and appealing. In this case, you will notice the leaves wilting despite the presence of moisture in the soil.
To deal with root rot, gently remove the plant from its container and remove all the soil attached to the roots using clean water. At this point, you should inspect the roots for damage or rot.
If you come across any damaged or mushy roots, you should use a disinfected knife, scissors, or pruning shears to cut them off and dispose of them.
Do not be worried about losing your plant’s roots because new and healthy ones will grow in their place. Treat the remaining roots with Physan 20 solution before replanting the palm tree.
– Repot the Palm plant
Before repotting your palm trees, ensure that they are left to dry for a day. Please do not reuse a once-infected potting soil to curb future recurrences of diseases like root rot. Dispose of the entire soil and use fresh soil to repot your palm trees.
If you prefer to use the same pot in which the plant was growing, you should wash it thoroughly using hydrogen peroxide or a bleaching solution to kill all microorganisms that cause rotting.
You must make sure that the new potting soil is well-draining and well-aerated. Soils that are well-aerated enhance oxygen flow, ensure water does not drown the root system, and allow the development of friendly microbes.
If you are growing a parior palm, pygmy date palm, areca palm, and several other varieties, do not water soon after repotting. The extent to which the palm plant was damaged determines how early the first watering should be done after repotting.
This is simply because the palm plant will be quicker in showing signs of new growth if it’s not severely damaged. Generally, you should make the first watering after you have noticed new growth appearing.
Despite having seen new growth on your palm plants, first, insert a finger into the potting soil to ascertain whether it has dried out enough. Both new growth and dry potting soil should be assessed before watering the repotted plant for the first time.
You should use distilled water when watering palm trees as it has fewer toxins and chemicals that hinder the palm tree’s rehabilitation process. Practice deep watering each time the soil dries out.
– Change the Soil
It is important to constantly loosen the soil periodically using sterilized tools to keep the soil’s porosity and aeration high. Loose soil is vital in enhancing the growth and spreading of roots, which helps them to absorb enough oxygen and nutrients without any interruptions.
We advise you to consider using a container with as many drainage holes as possible, or use terracotta pots whose surfaces allow water to drain out. The pot should be around two to four inches larger than the previous one.
Add a slow-release fertilizer or bone meal to the fresh potting mix to enrich the soil with much-needed nutrients. You should note that palm trees are not very thirsty plants, and they love soils that have at least 80 percent sand composition.
– Move the Palm Tree to a Partially Shaded Place
Moving your palm trees to a shaded place will prohibit you from watering them frequently, giving the soil time to dry out without stressing out the leaves.
Remember the goal here is to reduce water application as much as possible; However, keep in mind that placing your palm tree in a high-light spot will stress out its already weakened leaves, thereby disrupting the recovery process.
The soil should remain moist for a longer, without being soggy, too. Please, remember to ensure there is just enough light to keep the plant thriving. At this point, we advise that you prune off all the damaged or discolored foliage to allow the plant to recover.
– Conditional Change
If the temperature becomes too hot, you should give more water to the plant. The amount of water you should apply to the palm plant is first determined by the size of the pot.
The next thing you need to keep close attention to is the change in environmental conditions, as they greatly affect the rate of water loss. This is the answer if you are thinking about how often to water palm plants outside.
– Provide Proper Care for Recovery
At this point, you should avoid neglecting your palm trees so that they recover with vigor. Maintain temperatures of approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit around the recovering palm tree during nighttime.
During the daytime, the temperatures should be kept between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit to enhance the regrowth of the lost foliage. If the environment runs dry, you should not supplement moisture by watering the plants, but rather mist the palm leaves.
You can also consider using a humidifier to increase and maintain humidity between 40 and 50 percent. Palm trees are humidity lovers, and they would bounce back quickly in such conditions.
Using a pebble tray system is a very cost-effective moisture-increasing method, of course if you live in a place that is low in humidity. You just have to make sure that none of the roots gets in contact with water in the pebble tray, as this can promote waterlogged conditions as well.
Apply bone meal or slow-release fertilizers once you notice new growth appearing. Please note that if you apply strong feeds to the recovering plant, they will burn the remaining palm tree leaves and roots in no time. Thoroughly inspect your palms and get rid of any pests that you come across before they multiply on your plant.
– Does Brown Leaves of Palm Tree Mean Overwatering?
No, the moment you notice your palm tree’s leaf tips turning brown, something is wrong with the watering aspect of your plant, which is an important notion to know and be aware of.
It shows the lack of humidity, because palm varieties like the Majesty palm are naturally found growing on riverbanks where humidity is fairly high. If you notice the palm tree leaves becoming yellow with brown tips, your plant might be lacking adequate humidity.
Make sure you position your palm trees away from drafty openings, as they drive away humidity, replacing the plant’s atmosphere with drier air. For an indoor palm tree, you should immediately mist the leaves or use other moisture-increasing methods like humidifiers and pebble trays.
Therefore, before you assume that your plant is suffering from overwatering, also evaluate humidity conditions.
Unlike underwatered palm trees, overwatered plants become difficult to revive and can even die if you do not take timely steps to redeem them.
Let us revisit a few of the vital points that we covered in this detailed guide once again.
- Overwatering mainly emanates from the use of water-holding or heavy soils, poorly draining pots, too frequent irrigation, and poor monitoring of changes in the immediate environment.
- Once you notice your palm trees’ leaves gradually becoming yellow, stunted growth, brown tips, wilted fronds, and drooping leaves, your plant is being overwatered.
- You should use a pot with as many drainage holes as possible, or use terracotta pots whose surfaces allow water to drain away.
- An overwatered palm tree can be revived, especially when the damage is mild. In severe instances, you may remove the plant from its pot, prune off the dead roots and foliage, and repot it into new potting soil.
Overwatering palm trees is not always a sign of neglect, but also a lack of knowledge. With this informative article, you should be able to stay out of overwatering troubles. Have a happy palm tree-growing adventure!
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