Kentia palms have broad, deep-green fronds and are beautiful palms. Frequently found indoors, they can be somewhat easier to take care of than outdoor palm trees, but that doesn’t mean they never have anything wrong with them.
There are several things that can cause Kentia palms to start dying, and the more familiar you become with these things, the more you can look out for them and maybe save your beloved plant.
Below are the top causes of a kentia palm dying and how to prevent them.
1. Watering Problems (Especially Overwatering)
Watering problems tend to be the most common reason Kentia palms start dying. These plants need to be watered well once or twice a week but should never be overwatered.
Overwatering can cause a suffocation of the plant’s roots, which can kill it. On the other hand, underwatering dries out the plant, and keeps water and vital nutrients from properly feeding the plant.
2. Problems with Sunlight
Too much sunlight can dehydrate your Kentia plant and scorch the leaves as well, eventually killing it. If not given enough sunlight, the plant cannot photosynthesize properly or produce the energy it needs to survive and thrive.
Keep in mind that Kentia palms like bright but indirect sunlight. They prefer this over dappled sun. This means you might have to reposition the plant when the seasons change.
3. Fungal or Plant Diseases
Root rot is a common plant disease. It’s a bad one because the roots cannot absorb water or nutrients and distribute them to the plant.
Other common diseases include rust, powdery mildew, and even black spots. These diseases often affect the leaves first. Avoid watering the palm directly on the leaves to reduce the chance of these fungal diseases affecting the leaves.
4. The Soil Doesn’t Have Enough Nutrients
All plants need nutrient-rich soil, and nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – known as NPK are key. For Kentia palms, the ratio of NPK should be 3-1-2.
Using a fertilizer or plant food that has these nutrients in it is the easiest way to make sure your Kentia palm gets what it needs, but start with a test of the soil so you can determine what it needs in the first place.
5. Pest Damage
Mealybugs and spider mite are two of the most common pests causing damage to Kentia palms. These bugs can be treated with Neem oil, diluted and sprayed on the palm leaves. Repeat this 2-3 times until the bugs are all gone.
Neem oil is a naturally derived extract from the neem tree which will not harm beneficial bugs like bees.
6. Too Much Fertilizer
While fertilizing your Kentia palms regularly is important, too much fertilizer can damage the plants. If you notice brown spots on the tips of the leaves or patches of brown on the leaves themselves, this could be a sign that you are giving the plant too much fertilizer.
Many people fertilize once a month during the spring and summer months with a half-strength water-soluble fertilizer.
7. Too Little Humidity
Palm plants need humidity, and even though you don’t want to go overboard and make the air too moist, too little humidity can kill the plant.
If you notice brown tips on the leaves of your Kentia palm, it might not be getting enough humidity. Misting the plants is a temporary solution, so instead of doing that you might want to use a humidifier or move the plants to the kitchen or the bathroom.
8. Root Disturbance
Repotting your Kentia palm incorrectly can cause the plant to start drooping because it can disrupt the root system, and the plant can die if this goes on long enough.
Repotting a plant has to be done a certain way, so make sure you pay attention to all of the instructions if your Kentia palm suddenly needs a bigger pot.
9. Poor Drainage
Kentia plants love damp soil, but that soil also needs to be well-drained. If it isn’t, the water will sit there and ruin the roots, causing root rot that can eventually kill the plant. To avoid this, make sure you keep your Kentia palm in a pot that has plenty of drainage holes.
How to Save a Dying Kentia Palm
Kentia plants can be saved as long as you know what’s causing them to die in the first place. If it’s being watered too little or too much, adjust your watering schedule.
If it’s too dry, you can add a humidifier or place it in a more humid room, such as the bathroom or kitchen. Deep water the palm to make sure all of the roots get water.
You can save the plant as long as you’ve discovered the cause, and for this you might need the assistance of a gardening center specialist.
Should I Cut the Brown Leaves Off My Kentia Palm?
You can cut off brown leaves if you like, but it is not a necessity. If you do cut them off, wait until the leaves naturally start to separate from the stem, indicating that they’re about to fall off on their own.
As long as the leaves haven’t begun to droop too much or fall off, there is still a chance that they are receiving nutrients and hydration from the roots.
What Does an Overwatered Kentia Palm Look Like?
An overwatered Kentia palm is going to be very droopy and saggy. The leaves might also start to turn yellow and sometimes brown, and sometimes the droopiness is severe.
How Often Should You Water Kentia Palms?
Kentia palms need lots of water, but you only have to water them once or twice a week. Water them deeply less often to prevent root rot.
You can increase that if there’s ever a drought and decrease it to once a week if there’s ever a lot of rainfall at one time.
Where Should I Put My Kentia Palm?
You’ll need to put your Kentia palm near bright but indirect light or somewhere that gets partial shade. If you have a window that gets sun but not direct sun, place the plant near that window.
Remember that these plants also thrive at room temperature, so never put it in a place that is too cool or too warm. This is a low-maintenance plant that will thrive almost everywhere.
Kentia palms can suffer if they are not getting enough water, nutrients or light. If they are getting these in the right doses they will be more resistant to pests and diseases. Water them 2-3 times per week in the hot weather deeply to reach the deeper roots.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.