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Incorporating kentia palms into your interior is one gorgeous way of adding oomph to your home decor. It’s tall and lush green fan-like foliage gives any space an instant tropical island vibe. Perfect for anyone who wishes to set a fresh and laid back mood to the room.
Kentia palms, or scientifically known as Howea Forsteriana, is an easy to care plant. To boot, it has already been established as an excellent air purifier. Its beauty plus benefit makes it a crowd favorite among homeowners.
Low maintenance as it may be, Kentia palms still do encounter some woes from time to time. But, don’t you fret! We are here to lay out the most common problems you might potentially experience when growing Kentia palms.
The fun doesn’t stop there yet. We will also present to you various resolutions to these said problems. That way, you can always be a step ahead of the game.
Ideal Growing Conditions for Kentia Palm
Before delving into the problems, let us discuss first what an ideal environment should be for Kentia palms.
Kentia palms, or also called as paradise or thatch palms, are slow-growing plants native in the South Pacific. It thrives best in a warm and humid environment. In general, it prefers to be in a room with temperatures ranging from 65°F to 85°F.
Although Kentia palm loves temperate climates, it doesn’t do well with direct exposures to sunlight. Rather, it sits best under medium to bright filtered lighting. It can also tolerate low to medium light. Thus, making it a great option for indoor settings with limited access to sunshine.
This plant performs well in good draining soil. Keep it slightly moist and water only when the top 2 to 3 inches has already dried out. Make sure not to oversaturate it when watering to prevent untoward issues.
It would also be great to feed your plant with a slow-release fertilizer. A dose of 2 to 3 times a year would be enough to cover its nutritional needs. It is best to apply during the spring and summer seasons when the plant is most active.
Kentia Palms Most Common Problems
We have already set what an ideal growing environment should be for Kentia palms. Any deviation within these norms might risk your plant to encounter any of the problems below:
Problem #1: Yellow leaves
This problem is one of the prevalent issues faced mostly by beginners. The yellow speckling of the leaves is called chlorosis. This is often caused by giving your plants too much water.
Excessive moisture plus a poor draining soil is a definite recipe for disaster. This causes stagnation of water that can eventually lead to root rotting if not addressed immediately.
In minor cases, simple aeration of the soil is enough to evaporate the extra moisture. Moreover, you should also allow it some time to dry out between watering sessions too. This could take a few weeks or so. Just be patient and do not be tempted to water it prematurely.
If the yellowing persists, this could be an indication that root rotting had already set in. In this case, it is best to change your soil entirely. This time, make sure to use well-draining potting soil. Preferably, a more sandy mixture will do you good. With this, you can add an equal part of coarse sand to your regular potting soil. This will help it loosen up and promote better drainage.
Before repotting, you should also trim out the brown and mushy parts to halt the progression of damage. A healthy plant root should look white and firm to touch.
Our top picks for sandy potting soil and mixes:
- Espoma Organic Cactus Mix
- The Next Gardener Professional Grower Mix Soil
- Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix
- Mosser Lee Desert Sand Soil Cover
- Hoffman Horticultural Perlite
Problem #2: Brown leaves
The browning of leaves in Kentia palms could mean two things. It is either you are under watering or over-fertilizing your plants.
Underwatering is usually the main culprit why leaves turn brown. The lack of moisture and inadequate humidity levels can dry out your foliage. The browning can especially occur at the tip of the leaves.
Too much fertilization is another reason why your foliage is turning brown. As mentioned earlier, Kentia palms are slow-growing cultivars. Thus, it doesn’t need a lot of fertilizers to aid its growth and development.
Fertilizers contain salts and we already know, it naturally draws out moisture. As you feed your Kentia palm with too much fertilizer, salts will tend to accumulate in the soil. In effect, it sucks the water out and leaves the plant all dried up
Furthermore, an improperly diluted feeding solution can also turn your foliage brown. A highly-concentrated fertilizer can be too harsh. Thus, can burn your plants making its foliage brown and even crispy.
To address browning due to under watering, the solution is quite simple. If it lacks moisture, then give it sufficient amounts of water. You don’t have to drown them out though. You just need to be more consistent with your watering schedules. Moreover, don’t let your soil dry out for too long between waterings. You may water it as soon as the top 2 to 3 inches of your soil feels already dry.
For aesthetic purposes, you can try to trim the brown parts while maintaining the natural shape of the leaves.
I know it can be quite a challenge determining when is the exact time your plant needs watering. It is even harder for those who are inexperienced with gardening. So, to make life easier, it would be a great idea to get a soil pH and moisture meter. This simple tool takes you out of the guessing game. It is inexpensive and good enough to be your plant’s lifesaver.
As for the issue of over-fertilization, it is best to cut down on your feeding for the meantime. It would also be advisable to give your soil a good rinse to help drain out the excess salts. As you resume with the feeding, ensure to follow proper dilution. Always check the manufacturer’s recommended ratio.
Our top picks for soil pH and moisture meter:
- Yoyomax Soil Test Kit
- Safe2m Soil Test Kit
- Reotemp Garden and Compost Moisture Meter
- Gain Express pH & Soil Moisture Meter
- Gouevn Soil Moisture Meter
Problem #3: Drooping foliage
It is quite normal to see the plant’s leaves move from time to time. But, the dramatic slumping of the foliage though is a clear indication that your plant is unhappy.
The heavy drooping of the leaves is usually caused by under watering your cultivar. With dehydration, the fronds do not have enough strength to keep the leaves upright. Thus, it tends to look limp and collapses downwards.
There are also instances where the plant becomes top-heavy. That could be another possible reason why the leaves are leaning. In that case, it is completely normal. What you can do rather is to provide support so that your plant can maintain a good structure.
If the primary cause of drooping is under watering, you can follow the same solutions presented in problem #2. Again, you have to be more consistent with your watering schedules. Increase the frequency if you must so you can cope up with the plant’s dehydration issues.
On the other hand, if the problem is attributed to top-heaviness, you can provide a stake instead. You can tie the leaning branches into the stake to help support its weight. In a way, you are also training your plant to maintain an upright position.
Our top picks for garden stakes:
- Hydrofarm Store Bamboo Stakes
- Mininfa Natural Bamboo Stakes
- Growneer Coir Totem Pole
- Leobro Garden Support Ring
- SuperMoss Moss Stake Preserved
Problem #4: Pests
Kentia palms are hardy plants. Although, they are still not totally resistant against pests. Most infestation they encounter is often caused by the spider mites and mealy bugs.
Such kinds of pests are fairly easy to identify and manage. Spider mites are quite hard to visualize because of its minuscule size and discreet white color. But, you will know that it is a mite infestation if you notice the presence of webbing around the plant. Meanwhile, the mealy bug infestation often presents cotton-like masses around the frond.
Both pests tend to suck the sap out of the plant. If left unattended, it can cause irreversible damage or even kill your Kentia palm. Moreover, spider mites and mealy bugs can also infest the surrounding plants. Thus, likely spreading the devastation even to healthy cultivars.
It is very important to isolate the affected plant as soon as you notice signs of infestation. That way, you can halt it from spreading into other plants.
The treatment approach to both infestations is the same. For minor cases, simple wiping of the affected area with a damp cloth is good enough. Regular cleaning from there on is essential to keep these pests from recurring.
But for more extensive invasions, you might need to use neem oil or insecticidal soaps sprays already. Re-apply as often as necessary until the issue is resolved.
Our top picks for neem oils & insecticidal soap sprays:
- Neem Bliss 100% Organic Pure Neem Oil
- Verdana Organic Cold Pressed Neem Oil
- Natria Neem Oil Concentrate
- Natural Guard Spinosad Soap
- Safer Brand EndAll Insect Killer
Kentia palms are low-maintenance and very sturdy plants. But just like any cultivar, it is not invincible at all. Those four problems above are the most common issues you would likely encounter when growing Kentia palms. Luckily, all of these concerns are fairly easy to address. Just follow the tips we presented herein and rest assured caring for Kentia palms would be a breeze.