How To Tell If A Palm Tree Is Dead? [And How To Revive It]

This article was reviewed by Steve Snedeker, professional landscaper.

Even the majestic palm tree is vulnerable to disease, nutritional deficiency, and death. Have you ever wondered whether your palm tree is in danger of perishing and if you could do anything to save it? We scoured various resources for more information about palm trees and threats to their survival. Keep reading on to learn more.

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.
  • Holes in the trunk caused by untreated pests or disease

There are more than a few reasons a palm tree might be having problems thriving and eventually succumbs to an early demise. Read on and learn more about palm trees, how to keep them healthy, and emerging threats to this beautiful, tropical plant.

Dry tropical palm leaves on a dead palm tree, How To Tell If a Palm Tree is Dead? [And How To Revive It]

Understanding Your Palm Tree

The palm tree exists in various environments on our planet, and it is best grown in zones 8 through 10 for the best results. Some palms thrive indoors, but most are better suited for living outdoors where they can soak up the sun and reach for the clouds. Although there are over 2,500 species of palm trees in existence, not all grow as trees, and some palms are non-natives to their current home. Palm trees are beloved as a source of food, oil, wine, and other useful products. It is essential to understand a palm tree's vulnerability and remove any threats to keep it healthy and happy.

Sun shining on palm trees

Palm trees can die because of a myriad of reasons, whether they are not receiving enough bright, direct light when growing indoors, lack proper space for their roots to spread, or are being overpowered. In some places, emerging diseases and pests ravage palm trees, leaving plant lovers distraught over their beloved plants. Ideally, a palm tree should be grown in temperatures ranging between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, planted in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-draining, and in a space with at least 50% humidity levels.

If you can see the early warning signs that your palm tree is dying, you can take proactive measures to revive it and prevent future problems. Look out for signs of pests, including discolored fronds, trunks riddled with holes, a discolored center, and problems surrounding the base of the palm tree. Palm trees do prefer specific soil and water conditions to reduce stunted growth and enjoy a long life. Continue reading and discover more in-depth info about palm trees.

Why Would a Palm Tree Die?

Dead palm on a hill above the marina

A palm tree can die because of fertilizer burn, nutrient deficiency, overwatering, off-balance pH levels, or if temperatures and humidity levels are less than ideal. Diseases and pests can cause harm to the fronds and center of a palm tree, leaving holes in trunks and discolored and drooping fronds behind. Indoor palm trees need to be repotted as the plant grows, so roots have enough room. The soil for indoor palm trees should be moist and routinely flushed to reduce the chance of unwanted buildup or too much fertilizer in the soil. It is also best to water palm trees with filtered water.

If a palm tree is not getting enough light or is suffering from overwatering, it will display these problems in its fronds. The fronds will easily wilt and wither away, become a yellow and brown color, and eventually fall off of the tree. When choosing a fertilizer for a palm tree, you want to ensure the plant receives adequate amounts of magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Additionally, it is helpful to check your soil with a meter to check the pH and moisture levels to assess the needs of your palm tree.

Check out this 3-in-1 soil meter on Amazon.

Check out this air purifying palm tree on Amazon.

Will a Palm Tree Grow Back After You Cut it Down?

Man starting cutting down the palm tree trunk

A palm tree will not grow back and regenerate if you cut down its trunk. The topmost part of a palm tree, called the crownshaft, is the point where a palm grows upward. Once the trunk of a palm is felled and the connection between the growing tip and the rest of the plant is severed, it cannot be revived. The top of a palm tree should never be cut and removed as it will kill the tree.

What's Killing the Palm Trees in Florida?

Did you know that there are only 12 species of palms that are native to Florida, and all other palms were introduced from parts of Southeast Asia? Although the palm is a resilient plant and iconic sight in Florida, palm trees are currently being threatened by invasive bacteria from neighboring states. Common native palms to Florida include the Buccaneer Palm, the Royal Palm, and the Paurotis Palm. First spotted in 2006, Leaf Bronzing Disease or LBD has been slowly spreading from palm to palm, turning the fronds and trunk shade of brown and causing death.

Strange treehopper on leaf

It is believed that treehoppers are responsible for transmitting Leaf Bronzing Disease and killing palms. Treehoppers are about the size of a rice grain and may transmit the lethal disease to palms when feeding. Phoenix palms and the Sabal Palm are most at-risk of succumbing to LBD and perishing, but all palms are being watched for signs of the spreading epidemic. The only solution is to fell infected trees to prevent the spread of LBD, and there is a preventative antibiotic available, but it is costly and only lasts for three months.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Palm Tree?

The lifespan of a palm tree depends on the variety of the plant, as some species can grow an average of 70 years! The areca palm lives an average of 40 years, but the Mexican fan palm may live up to the ripe age of 100. Because palms are a symbol of resurrection, prosperity, and victory, they are being studied as a key to unlocking the mysteries of immortality.

Check out this delightful parlor palm on Amazon.

Check out this gorgeous Majesty palm on Amazon.

How Do You Kill a Palm Tree Naturally?

Crown shaft of the princess palm tree also known as the hurricane palm tree

You can kill a palm tree by removing the crownshaft from the top of the trunk. Other methods of killing a palm include boring holes into the trunk and filling it with herbicide or vinegar. When killing a palm tree, it is helpful to remove all of the fronds, damage the trunk, and neglect it by withholding water, light, and nutrients.

Will Roundup Kill a Palm Tree?

Roundup can potentially kill a palm tree if it is applied to the fronds and poured into holes bored in the trunk of the plant. However, it would take a considerable amount of Roundup to kill a palm tree and time for the chemical agent to take some effect.

Check out this concentrated Roundup on Amazon.

How to Revive a Palm Tree?

If you wish to revive a palm tree, remember to stop yourself from pruning fronds unless they are entirely dead, discolored, or diseased. The fronds aid in the palm's process of photosynthesis and moving nutrients throughout the plant. Make sure to apply a quality fertilizer to your palm, but keep your fertilizer two feet from the roots to prevent burn. Epsom salt is a natural fertilizer for palms as it provides magnesium. If you wish to apply Epsom salt to a palm tree, consider adding some eggshells to the mix to give your palm tree potassium and calcium.

Apply an adequate amount of water to the palm depending on the plant's age, species needs, and season. Indoor plants have slightly varying demands compared to outdoor palms. A palm needs bright, indirect sunlight, temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, adequate nutrients, and ample humidity to thrive. Remember, significant damage to the trunk of a palm and removal of the crownshaft will make it so you cannot revive your plant.

Check out this organic palm tree fertilizer on Amazon.

Click to see this Epsom salt on Amazon.

Check out the following articles and learn more about palm trees!

8 Palm Trees That Stay Small

12 Awesome Planters & Pots for Palm Trees

7 Indoor Trees With Big Leaves


  1. Our Pygmy dwarf palms were exposed to a hard frost in Feb. in Southern Texas 2021. All palm leaves were brown. We were told to cut them all off. We CB pulled out the dead centers with the mold. We were told to drill a hole near the to side and flush out the center with water to get the white milky stuff out. Then apply liquid copper to rid it of disease and mold. And repeat liquid gold in another 2-4 weeks. We did all of that. This is July and no signs of growth coming out of the center. We have continued to rate it when ground around it is dry. How do we know if it’s dad or what else can we do?

  2. I have a palm tree( george) I brought him from California 11 years ago as a baby. I live in Colorado so he only goes outside for the summer months. He has these brown ugly spots on all of his fronds please help me get rid of the spots. They only started last year. Thank you.

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