Why is My Palm Tree Falling Over? | 8 Reasons and How to Prevent it

Palm trees are beautiful trees that love warm, sunny areas and plenty of water. Palm trees can fall over due to extreme weather conditions, strong winds, lack of water or poor root structure.

This article will explore the top causes of palm trees falling over and how you can prevent it from happening to yours.

1. Strong Winds

Normally, palm trees can withstand winds of 75-150 miles per hour, but if the winds are stronger than 150 mph, the trees can fall over.

Palm trees that are not healthy, lacking nutrients, water or have suffered from post attack they are more likely to fall over even in winds are 75 mph or below.

Timber supports can help to prevent palm trees from falling over. Stabilizing the tree with ties or ropes on days that you know will be windy can also help to prevent their roots from being torn from the ground.

If you get regular strong winds, plant palm trees in a protected area or group them together to help to reduce the impact of the wind on a single palm stem.

Group palms together to help to protect individual stems from the wind.

2. Not Enough Water

Palms need a lot of water, especially when you first plant them When a palm doesn’t get enough water, the root system doesn’t not establish deep or strong which can weaken the tree until it falls down on the ground.

Regular water while your palm tree is establishing is essential. Water it deeply 2-3 times per week to encourage the roots to reach further into the soil. Water wider around the tree to encourage the root to reach out and stabilize the palm.

3. Poor Root Growth

Both planting a palm tree too shallow and planting it too deep can cause poor root growth. In both cases, it can reduce the strength of the roots making the palm less stable and more likely to fall in strong winds.

If you’re transplanting a tree, make sure you plant it as deep as it was previously. Cover all the roots with soil and water it in well. Aim to plant it in a free draining soil with a good balance of sand, clay and organic matter.

4. Sudden Crown Drop (Disease)/Trunk Rot

Caused by a fungus, sudden crown drop causes decay inside of the palm, while the outside looks healthy. This makes it difficult to notice the disease, making it almost impossible to prevent.

If it gets bad enough, the entire crown and the trunk’s upper portion may both fall. This fungal disease is not treatable so it is best to remove the tree if this occurs.

5. Insect Damage

Many insects, but especially termites, can eat through a palm tree before you know it, causing the entire tree to basically collapse on top of itself.

To prevent this, the best thing you can do is monitor the tree constantly and spray pesticide on it regularly. Another insect that can damage a palm tree is the giant palm borer, which weakens the tree internally and causes it to rot from the inside and maybe even fall down.

6. Shallow Planting Depth

If your palm tree was planted too shallow in the soil, the roots cannot establish themselves and therefore, it becomes much easier for the tree to fall.

The roots will not get the water and nutrition they need to spread to the rest of the tree so it can grow and thrive. Planting the tree at the right depth can resolve this issue.

7. Lightning and Storms

Lightning that strikes a tree can split the trunk or cause it to bleed, which eventually causes the entire canopy to collapse

If a storm is bad enough, lightning can always occur, and if this happens to your tree the only thing you can do is hire an arborist to attempt to save it. If the tree cannot be saved they will be able to safely remove it so it doesn’t fall.

8. Flooding

If you live in an area that floods occasionally, don’t panic. Palms can in fact withstand occasional flooding and not be damaged.

Consistent flooding the root system will weaken, and if this happens often enough the tree can die and eventually fall over.

A run-off trench for draining the water away from the tree can help a lot.

Signs of a Dying Palm Tree

A dying palm tree is characterized by wilting, sagging, or discolored leaves. Two of the most common diseases are bacterial bud rot and lethal yellowing disease.

If the leaves are white or yellow in color, you might need a copper fungicide. In addition, if you do not see any green leaves whatsoever, the tree is likely either dying or already dead.

Why Palm Trees get Floppy

There are numerous reasons why your palm tree might be starting to droop. These include underwatering, watering it too much, or there could be problems such as disease, pests, lack of light or a lack of humidity.

Replanting or transplant palm trees can also result in their leaves drooping. This is usually due to minor root damage. Water the tree in well after planting and it should recover within a week.

How to Know if your Palm Tree Is Overwatered

Signs your palm tree has received too much water include soft or limp leaves, soil that is very soggy or clumped together, white fuzzy-like substance on your soil, foul smells (caused by root rot), a droopy canopy, brown leaves with yellow circles, and the presence of certain pests, including fungus gnats and whiteflies.

How to Reset a Palm Tree when it has started to bend

One of the easiest ways to reset a palm tree is to drive stakes in the ground all around the tree outside the root ball area.

Take the tree by hand and straighten it as much as possible and secure the tree to the stakes with straps you find at the hardware store or gardening center.  

Leave the stakes in place for at least a year. This gives the roots enough time to fully embed themselves into the soil so the tree is re-anchored.

Why is my palm tree falling over? | Summary

Palm trees can fall over if they are exposed to strong winds especially if they have a poorly formed root system. Water the palm tree regularly, plant it in well-draining soil and feed it once per year with organic plant food like pelleted chicken manure.

This will encourage good root growth to help to prevent palms from falling over.

Happy growing.