11 Palm Tree Diseases - Signs, Treatment and Prevention | Gardenine (2022)

Palm trees can appear very easy to care for, but when it comes to diseases and infections, they may need a keen eye and constant inspection. Palm trees are susceptible to several diseases, nutritional problems, and insect infestation. The diseases affect different palm tree parts, including the leaves, stems, and roots of the palm.

Most diseases and even pests attack weak palm trees. In some cases, you might not know the disease is there if you’re just learning how to care for your palm tree. For instance, the growth rate in palm treescan be affected by diseases. When growth is stunted, it could easily mean the plant is diseased.

How Can You Tell aPalm Tree is Diseased?

Depending on the disease, impact and nature, a palm tree will depict different signs. Here are the signs your palm tree is diseased:

  • Older fronds withering or roping
  • Stunted growth
  • Leaves turning yellow or pale green
  • General discoloration of the plant
  • Spotted or frizzled fronds

When a palm starts showing one or some of these symptoms, something is wrong with it.It is best to check the plant for problems and see if you can help it recover. Keep in mind that some common palm tree diseases such as root rot are caused by poor care practices such as overwatering your palm trees.

Palm Tree Diseasesand Treatments

Some palm tree diseases are more deadly than others. Some are irreversible, while others are not. However, with the proper care, the tree will recover. Also, with the correct care routines, most of these palm diseases are preventable.

Here are the most common palm treediseases:

1. Leaf Spots and Leaf Blights

It sometimes hard to spot the leaf spot fungi by only looking at the visual symptoms. Leaf spots can appear oily, circular or elongated and form at the underside of the fronds. They first appear as small water-soaked spotsand increase as the disease continues to spread. The spots turn brown, yellow, black or gray, with the outer ring having a different color.

These spores are usually spread by water, wind, and poorly sanitized pruning equipment. Fortunately, in most cases, leaf spots can’t kill a palm tree.

Treatment for Leaf Spot

You can treat leaf spot fungus on palm trees successfully if you start the regime early enough. Here’s how to treat your palm tree:

  • Prune away the most infected fronds. In cases of severe damage, use fungicidal sprays that have copper.
  • Apply a copper fungicide to get rid of leaf spot disease in palm trees.

Copper fungicides are the only fungicides allowed if the palm fruits are to be used for food purposes.


To prevent leaf spots when irrigating, don’t let the water wet the palm foliage. Water your palms in the morning to ensure they don’t remain wet overnight. Also, try fertilizing the palms to boost their vigor and enable them to fight the leaf rots more effectively.

Sanitize your pruning tools to prevent the disease from spreadingto other types of palm treesin your yard.

(Video) How to Save a Dying Areca Palm

2. Ganoderma Butt Rots

Ganoderma butt rots is a deadly palm disease caused by a fungus called Ganoderma zonatum.This fungal disease affects different types of palm trees– both indoor and outdoor varieties.

It invades the tree’sbase to a height of 3-4 inches above the ground, works its way through the woody palm tree tissue, thus preventing the plant from transporting water up to the stem.


Signs of ganoderma butt rots in palm trees include:

  • Witheringwith older fronds bending easily.
  • Stunted new growth.
  • Leaves turningyellow or pale green in color.
  • Rotting roots
  • Weakened trunk.

Depending on when the disease attacked the plant, the trunk may collapse, the head of the palm fall off, and roots become severely rotten.

One way to check if your palm tree is suffering from ganoderma butt rot is to tap the trunk. Whilethe trunk may seem solid, it will produce a hollow sound when tapped – if it is diseased.

The disease can lead to the death of your palm tree depending on the age of the tree and the environmental conditions.


Unfortunately, there’s no chemical treatment for the ganoderma butt rot disease. To prevent the disease, remove and destroy any stumps, root systems and trunk of dead plants in the landscape. During the planting period, avoid inflicting any injury to the plant. Also, conduct regular yard maintenance using string weed eaters.

Since ganoderma pathogens survive in the soil, don’t plant any other palm in the same location.

3. Bud Rot

Bud rotis a palm tree disease that’scaused by either fungal pathogens or bacterial pathogens. Normally, it occurs after a period of excess rain or tropical storm. The bacterial rots happen after the bud has been damaged by cold weather. Once the infection occurs, it’s unlikely to reverse the situation.


Here are the symptoms of bud rot in palm trees:

  • Lack of new crown growth.
  • Young frondsand budsstart showing black lesions
  • Wilting young buds and fronds
  • A slimy rot on the buds of the affected palm trees.

The buds are often affected by a firm rot that may turn slimy later after the secondary invaders. Old fronds remain green for several months and are often the last to die.

Treatment and prevention

To prevent the infection, avoid overhead irrigation whenever possible. Remove any infected plants and destroy them to reduce the further spread of the disease. Apply preventative fungicides containing copperfor the plants exposed to these diseases.

(Video) Queen Palm Bad Tops Chandler AZ 480 969 8808 Warners Tree Surgery 8 6 17

Always apply the fungicide and spray at the right intervals according to the directions on the labels.

4. False Smut

False Smut is also known as graphiola leaf spot as graphiola speciescausethe disease. It’is a cery common palm tree disease in areas with high humidity. False smut affects only the palms of the Aceraceae family.


Once infected, the leaves develop small, black wart-like structuresthat appear on both the leaf surfaces. The black spotsmay have tiny filaments. Often, the youngest leaves don’t show any sign.


Remove any severely affected leaves to minimize the spread of the disease. Donotremove too many fronds, as this may be damaging to the palm tree than the disease. Since palm trees are easily susceptible to nutritional deficiencies, removing the fronds can easily weaken the tree and worsen the existing problems.


  • Improve air circulation– To prevent the disease, properly space your palm to allow for plenty of air circulation and reduce the humidity.
  • During irrigation, avoid wetting the fronds.

5. Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt is a palm tree fungus caused by Fusariumoxysporum. The disease has different strains that are specific to the various species of palm trees. Since it has no cure, it is highly likely that your palm tree will die when affected by fusarium wilt disease.


The signs include discolored, brown and wilting fronds. The palm then loses its green color and eventually dies. The symptoms normally start near the bottom of the fronds before making their way upwards.

There is no cure for the disease, and once affected, you may need to get rid of the tree.

Care and prevention

However, by providing the proper care to the plant, you can extend its life span.Here are a few tips to care for your palm trees and prevent fusarium wilt:

  • Remove the affected fronds and dispose of them carefully to avoid spreading the disease to other palm trees.
  • Water and fertilize the tree just enough to prevent excesses.
  • Apply a fungicide that contains thiophanate-methyl regularly to prevent fungal attacks.

Although the fungicide won’t cure the fusarium wilt, it helps prevent and treat other opportunistic infections like pink rot that often weaken the plant.

6. Lethal Yellowing

Phytoplasma, a microscopic organism, causes lethal yellowing diseasein palm trees. The disease attacks the plant in phases.The disease is spread by planthoppers and affects many varieties of palm trees.

Since the planthopper (Haplaxius crudus) is native to Florida, palm trees in Florida are highly susceptible to the effects of this palm tree infection.

Signs and symptoms

  • Fruit drop: The first and the most obvious phase is the premature drop of almost all the fruits on the plant.
  • Black patches on fruits: The fallen nuts have browned areas or blackened areas in places where they were attached to the stem.
  • Wilting flowers: All new male flowers in the plants often blacken from the tips and wilt before dying.
  • Yellowing of leaves: The fronds turn yellow, with the yellowing starts from the fronds before advancing to the top of the tree. Insects majorly spread the disease.


If the infection is slight, root injections could help in treating the tree. However, if most of the palm tree is affected by lethal yellowing disease, it needs to be removed and replaced with resistant species. This also prevents the further spread of illness to other palms.

(Video) Antibiotics For Yellowing Disease Palm Tree Owners NOVEMBER 2012

7. Pink Rot

Pink rot is considered a secondary disease, and it can affect any part of the palm tree. Since palm trees can’t repair wood tissues, they are likely to be attacked by pink rot when pruned too severely or damaged.


The disease results in stunted or deformed growth, leaf spots and rots.The most obvious sign is the visible pink spore masses. Sometimes, pink rot produces a brown syruplike ooze.

Treatment and prevention

To prevent pink rot disease in palm trees, always keep the palms as healthy as possible or plant the tree at a deeper depth. Most palm tree roots spread at a depth up to 36 inchesor more.

Also, avoid injury to the palm tree with pruning tools or any other gardening materials. After pruning, apply fungicide to protect the tree. Always follow the label instruction to apply the correct amount of fungicide at the right intervals.

8. Diamond Scale

Diamond scale is caused by a fungus calledphaeochoropsis neowashingtoniae. It produces diamond-shaped fruiting, normally on the palm trees’foliage. The disease is more common in coastal areas and some inland valleys.


Tiny watery-looking dark spots form and grow to diamond-shaped fruiting on the lower and upper surfaces of the leaves and leave stalks. The leaves first turn yellow before browning.


To prevent further spread, replace the badly infected trees with resistant species. Always strive to keep the unaffected trees healthy and supply water as needed. Check on the drainage and correct it if necessaryas overwatering can worsen diamond scale in palm trees.

9. Sooty Mold

Sooty mold is a fungaldisease that feeds on the honeydew produced by palm aphids, mealybugs,and scale insects. It appears as black or ashy gray mold on fronds. Although it doesn’t cause major harm to a palm tree, its sight is often ugly.


Sooty mold diseaseforms a black covering on the leaves and is associated with the infestation of insects. The soot appears on the trunk but mostly on the leaf surface.The mold easily washes off the palm leaves as it does not attack the plant directly.

To prevent the disease from reoccurring, control the sucking insects that produce honeydew– such as aphids. For smaller palms, sprayers are effective.

However, for mature and taller palms, use systemic treatments as they are difficult to spray.

10. Root RotDisease

Anaerobic conditions due to overwatering or waterlogging cause root rot in many plants.Palm trees are especially highly prone to root rot when growing in poorly-draining soil.

(Video) Oak tree disease houston by Tree doctor Master Hughes

Signs and symptoms of root rot

The symptoms include:

  • The tree rotting at the base
  • Mushy, rotting roots
  • Stunted growth
  • Leaves turning yellow
  • Infected roots are dark and soft as compared to the healthyones.


To treat the affected plants, trim away the infected roots using pruning shears. Cut the roots as closely as possible to the root ball and dispose of them carefully. Replant the palm tree in another area and give it new life. Lastly, apply fungicide like the thiophanate-methyl to cure this plant.

11. Thielaviopsis Trunk Rot

Thielaviopsis trunk rot is a palm disease caused by the fungus called thielaviopsis paradoxa.The disease causes the palm tree trunk to collapse on itself. The major sign is always the stem bleeding, with the lowest leaves hanging down the canopy and dying prematurely.

The fungus affects fresh trunk wounds. Sometimes the canopy suddenly falls off the trunk, despite appearing healthy,before collapsing.

Once infected, get rid of the palm and destroy the diseased trunk portion. To prevent the disease, limit the man-made wounds on the trunk, especially on the upper third of the trunk.

Palm tree diseases often attack weakened trees. Healthy palms resist pests and also diseases. Therefore, it is important to keep your palm trees healthy through proper care – provide the right growing conditions, water adequately, and fertilize when necessary. Catching the diseases early and starting the treatment immediately reduces the impact the disease might cause to the tree.

11 Palm Tree Diseases - Signs, Treatment and Prevention | Gardenine (1)

Alex K. Worley

My name is Alex K. Worley. I am a web geek who loves gardening and connecting with nature. I maintain a small backyard organic garden from which I source most of my green food. I hope to help you learn something new about gardening.

(Video) Palm Tree Fungus Treatment | Dubai +971526277568


How do you treat fungus on palm trees? ›

To treat the condition, have the most infected fronds pruned away. Have fungicides applied to prevent the fungi from spreading to other leaves. Also, try fertilizing your palms; this can boost its vigor, allowing it to fight off leaf spot fungi more effectively.

How do you treat leaf spots on palms? ›

In most cases, leaf spots will not kill the tree, and fungicides are usually not necessary. If the damage becomes severe, fungicidal sprays containing copper can be used (see Table 1 for specific products). If palm fruits are used for food purposes, copper fungicides are the only approved fungicides.

How do you take care of a palm tree? ›

Palm trees generally grow in full sun, but can tolerate some shade. Water newly planted trees deeply twice a week until they are established (2 to 3 months). Palm trees are drought tolerant once they are established and rarely need watered. A good quality slow release fertilizer should be applied in early spring.

What is wrong with my palm tree plant? ›

The most common sign your palm tree is sick is a brown center stalk. Look at the top center portion of the palm tree – this is the first place you look for a “health assessment”. If the top center stalks are turning brown and/or shriveling, your tree is not doing well.

How do I treat yellow leaves on my palm tree? ›

If your palm trees have yellow leaves due to nutritional deficiencies, you will need to fertilize them with a fertilizer that contains nitrogen, potassium, and magnesium in order to restore them to health. One of the most common reasons for palm leaves turning brown is a fungal infection.

How do you treat trunk rot on palm trees? ›

There are no methods to prevent or cure this disease. The palm should be removed immediately and the diseased trunk portion destroyed but not recycled.

What causes spots on palm tree leaves? ›

The vast majority of leaf spots and leaf blights of palm are caused by fungi. In general, the symptoms look similar no matter which fungus is causing the spot or blight.

How do you treat brown spots on palms? ›

Black / brown dots on the leaves

The soil is often too wet. Check the correct needs of your palm and adjust the conditions accordingly. This condition often occurs after the winter months when it was logically far more humid for several months. Always ensure proper drainage to prevent root rot.

Why is my palm turning yellow and brown? ›

Yellowing usually happens for a few different reasons: improper watering, insufficient light conditions, and nutrient deficiency. Pests can also cause yellowing in some cases, as can low humidity.

What does an unhealthy palm tree look like? ›

You can tell your palm tree is dying if you see the following problems: The center of the tree is a brown color. Younger fronds are discolored and falling off. The fronds are wilting, yellowing, and turning brown.

How can you tell if a palm tree is dying? ›

There are major signs that your palm tree is dying or already dead. You need to watch for wilting, discolored, or stunted palm fronds. These are the first signs that somethings not right with your palm tree. There are cases where the damage can be stopped and reversed to save the palm, so don't panic.

How do I know if my palm tree is healthy? ›

Check the fronds that remain on the tree. If there's any green on those fronds, then your palm tree is still alive and well and with some extra care and attention, you can nurse it back to life.

Why are palm leaves turning yellow? ›


One of the most common reasons for yellow palm leaves is overwatering. Palm trees need a lot of water, but they also need well-draining soil. If the soil is constantly wet, it will suffocate the roots and cause the leaves to turn yellow.

Why do palms leaves go brown? ›

Palm trees are tropical plants and do enjoy ample light but, too much direct sunlight can burn the fronds causing them to turn brown. If the fronds are burning on a regular basis, it is not healthy for the longevity of the tree.

Why is my hand palm turning yellow? ›

Yellow discoloration of the skin may be associated with carotenemia, hypothyroidism, liver disease, and renal disease. It is an uncommon finding in patients with diabetes. Traditionally, it is considered to be related to carotenemia, but it may also be associated with end-products of advanced glycation.

What kind of fungus grows on palm trees? ›

The fungal genus Ganoderma is a group of wood-decaying fungi that are found throughout the world on all types of wood—gymnosperms, woody dicots, and palms. There are many different species of this fungus in Florida, but only one is a pathogen of palms. That fungus is Ganoderma zonatum.

How do you repair a damaged tree trunk? ›

When a tree is wounded, the injured tissue is not repaired and does not heal. Trees do not heal; they seal. If you look at an old wound, you will notice that it does not “heal” from the inside out, but eventually the tree covers the opening by forming specialized “callus” tissue around the edges of the wound.

What is the best fungicide for leaf spot? ›

For spring and summer leaf spot, preventative fungicide applications, or applications in the early stages of disease development provide the best results. Products containing iprodione, chlorothalonil, mancozeb, fludioxonil, azoxystrobin, or penthiopyrad typically provide good control of leaf spot diseases.

How do you treat leaf spots naturally? ›

Leaf Spot Remedy
  1. 1 Drop Ivory Dish Soap.
  2. 2 TSP Baking Soda.
  3. 4 Cups of Water.

Why are my palms itchy and bumps? ›

Dyshidrosis is a skin condition that causes small, fluid-filled blisters to form on the palms of the hands and sides of the fingers. Sometimes the bottoms of the feet are affected too. The blisters that occur in dyshidrosis generally last around three weeks and cause intense itching.

How do you treat white spots on palms? ›

Small infestations can be removed by hand. Products that effectively control scale insects include pyrethrin-based insecticides, horticulture oil sprays and insecticidal soap. You should spray these on the plant's leaves as soon as scale insects are observed.

Why do palm trees get black spots? ›

When a palm tree develops moldy black spots on its leaves, a fungal disease is usually the culprit. Palm trees tend to grow in warm, and sometimes wet or humid, climates that foster fungal spore growth.

What does Epsom salt do for palm trees? ›

Generally, Epsom salt is good for palm trees. A quick application of the salt solution can give your potted or inground palm trees a much-needed magnesium boost. The salt contains magnesium that helps in the production of chlorophyll – the green pigment found in trees.

How do you use copper fungicide on palm trees? ›

Liquid Copper Fungicide for preventing palm disease - YouTube

Should you cut off yellow palm leaves? ›

Palm tree leaves turning yellow might be an unsightly spectacle that leaves you clambering to remove them, but it's best to leave them in place. If they aren't dying of natural causes, it's necessary to figure out why the fronds are fading and resolve the underlying issue.

What is a vitamin bath to a palm tree? ›

Can your palm tree be saved? One method is to give the palm tree a vitamin bath remedy that can be applied to the palm tree's base. The idea is that the palm tree will soak up these vitamins and begin to repair from the systemic feeding. A landscape professional can advise an appropriate vitamin bath to try.

How do you save a dying majesty palm? ›

To revive a dying majesty palm, replicate their preferred natural conditions by misting the leaves to increase the humidity, watering with a generous soak every 7 days and maintaining a temperature range of 65ºF and 75ºF. Snip off any brown, dying leaves to stimulate healthy green growth.

How do I keep my palm leaves green? ›

Mix cut-flower food (floral preservative) with warm filtered water according to the package instructions. Pour this mixture in the vase for the palm leaves. This provides nutrients and will help keep the palm leaves green.

Can you bring a dead palm tree back to life? ›

Reviving Dying Palm Trees

With winter injured trees, wait until the weather warms before removing dead leaves. These will help protect the tree during the remaining cold months. As long as new leaves start to form after winter, the plant can survive but will need to be watched for any additional stresses.

Should I cut off Brown palm leaves? ›

Cut leaves that are entirely brown or yellow at the base – near the stem or at the soil. Be sure not to tug the leaves, as this can damage healthy parts of the plant. If only part of the leaf is brown or yellow, remove only the affected area.

How do I make my palm tree green? ›

How to Grow Healthy and lush green Areca Palm-Soil, Fertilizers,sunlight ...

How do you get rid of plant fungus naturally? ›

Apple Cider Vinegar:

Apple cider vinegar as fungicide on plants- To make a fungicide out of this, take one tablespoon of vinegar and mix it with a gallon of water. Shake this well and add to a spray bottle. Vinegar mixture can treat most fungal infections on any plant, without causing any harm.

How do you get rid of scales on palm trees? ›

Typical treatment for palm scale is to repeatedly spray the palm tree leaves with horticultural oil or a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water mixed with some bleach-free dish soap. If you have the patience, you can paint straight rubbing alcohol onto each scale individually. Neem oil sprays may also help.

How do you make a fungicide? ›

Mixing baking soda with water, about 4 teaspoons or 1 heaping tablespoon (20 mL) to 1 gallon (4 L.) of water (Note: many resources recommend using potassium bicarbonate as a substitute for baking soda.). Dishwashing soap, without degreaser or bleach, is a popular ingredient for homemade plant fungicide.

What is the white powdery stuff on my palm tree? ›

If you notice fungus on leaves in your garden, the culprit is likely powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that results in a powdery gray or white coating on the leaves and stems of infected plants.

Is baking soda a good fungicide? ›

The use of baking soda as a fungicide is not new and has long been utilized by gardeners to protect their plants. Scientifically known as Sodium Bicarbonate, it has been an effective and safe fungicide for the treatment of various fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.

Is vinegar a good fungicide? ›

Vinegar has antifungal and antibacterial properties, and it can be a cheap and effective treatment for many types of mold.

What kills a fungal infection? ›

Antifungal medications work to treat fungal infections. They can either kill fungi directly or prevent them from growing and thriving. Antifungal drugs are available as OTC treatments or prescription medications, and come in a variety of forms, including: creams or ointments.

How do you treat scale insects? ›

The safest effective way to control scale is with a horticultural oil spray. These insecticides contain oil in a form that will mix with water. When mixed and sprayed onto an infested plant, the oil coats the scale insects and clogs their breathing pores.

Why does my palm tree have sticky leaves? ›

The cause of the sticky leaf is normally scale insects on the plant. Plant scale feeds and suck sap (the plant juices) out of houseplants. The sticky residue on the leaves and floor is what they secrete and is a sticky substance called honeydw or sticky honeydew. Too often people only look at the top leaves.

How do I protect my palm trees from insects? ›

Best Palm Tree Insecticides
  1. Monterey Horticultural Oil. What is this? ...
  2. Bonide Annual Tree And Shrub Insect Control. ...
  3. Bonide Granules. ...
  4. Trifecta Crop Control Organic Insecticide. ...
  5. Safer Insect Killing Soap. ...
  6. Garden Safe Insect Killer. ...
  7. Caterpillar Killer From Safer. ...
  8. Hose Control Caterpillar Killer.
12 Aug 2020

What does baking soda do to plants? ›

Baking soda on plants causes no apparent harm and may help prevent the bloom of fungal spores in some cases. It is most effective on fruits and vegetables off the vine or stem, but regular applications during the spring can minimize diseases such as powdery mildew and other foliar diseases.

What do you spray on tree fungus? ›

Systemic fungicides like Inspire Super, Vangard, Scala, Flint, Sovran, Merivon, Pristine, Luna Sensation, Luna Tranquility, Fontelis, Rubigan, and Rally are highly effective against many tree fruit diseases.

How do you treat fungus on trees? ›

Treatment: If you wish, most lichen species can be eliminated from a tree with a mixture of 6 tablespoons of liquid copper sulfate mixed with 1 gallon of water applied during the tree's dormant season. When applying this mixture, cover the lichen to the point of runoff.

How do you treat fungus on leaves? ›

Make a typical baking soda spray by dissolving one teaspoon of baking soda into one quart of water. You can add a few drops of insecticidal soap or liquid soap to help the solution spread and stick to the leaves. Only use liquid soap, like Ivory, and not laundry detergent.

How do you treat white spots on palms? ›

Small infestations can be removed by hand. Products that effectively control scale insects include pyrethrin-based insecticides, horticulture oil sprays and insecticidal soap. You should spray these on the plant's leaves as soon as scale insects are observed.

How do you prevent downy mildew? ›

The best way to prevent downy mildew is to avoid the environmental conditions that favor the disease. Prune or stake plants and remove any weeds to improve air circulation. Water in the early morning hours, or use a soaker hose, to give the plants time to dry out during the day.


1. Queen Palm tree with palm Frizzle Top, a deadly if not treated palm fungus for this sick Queen Palm
(Arizona Trees & Tree Doctor Help 4 Tree Trimming)
2. Sago Palm Disease Treatment from Simix
3. What causes leaf spot plant disease and how to prevent them
4. Fertilizing Palm Trees
(Earth Works Jax)
5. Gardening Myths: Blaming Everything On Transplant Shock | 4 Reasons Your Plant Died After Transplant
6. Cycad , Sago Palm - Pest & Disease | Sago Palm Care & Issues | Sago Palm Yellow Fronds
(Ila Sharma)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Ray Christiansen

Last Updated: 09/06/2022

Views: 5604

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ray Christiansen

Birthday: 1998-05-04

Address: Apt. 814 34339 Sauer Islands, Hirtheville, GA 02446-8771

Phone: +337636892828

Job: Lead Hospitality Designer

Hobby: Urban exploration, Tai chi, Lockpicking, Fashion, Gunsmithing, Pottery, Geocaching

Introduction: My name is Ray Christiansen, I am a fair, good, cute, gentle, vast, glamorous, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.