Why Does My Cat Palm Have Brown Tips (Causes And How to Fix It)


Indoor cat palm leaves have brown tips.

Cat Palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum) is clearly the perfect plant to beautify your home environment. But you may find brown tips on cat palm which is frustrating right?

If you are wondering how to solve the cat palm leaf tips browning issue, you might take some time to read this article and find the causes and solutions. hut

The most likely reason for brown tips on cat palm is improper watering. When you overwater Cat Palm with water the root begins to suffer. Other causes are overfertilization, improper lighting, temperature stress, inadequate soil, pests, etc. Improper planting depth can also be a cause for brown tips on the Cat Palm.

Keep reading this article and I’ll pass through each problem that usually occurs when you grow the Cat Palm. I’ll show you how to regain the shiny look of it.

Causes of Cat Palm Brown Tips

This trunkless kind of palm tree naturally lives in tropical and subtropical climate conditions. That suggests to you that you should provide your palm with conditions as similar as possible within the home.

You achieve that by setting up favorable temperature, amount of light and water, and the appropriate type of soil. Physiological disorders and different stress conditions can cause these issues. (Source: University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences)

Here are some causes of brown tips on your Cat Palm:

Overwatering

As I mentioned before, you shouldn’t soak your palm. Soggy soil stifles the root which begins to rot. 

In this way, the root can’t deliver enough oxygen to other parts of the plant causing the leaves to brown and decay. Your Cat Palm needs to breathe.

Underwatering

Your palm, as opposed to previous, doesn’t tolerate lack of water. First, you shouldn’t grow your cat palm in an oversized pot.

If you water it just when you notice soil becomes dry and crusted and have a problem with brown tips, you shouldn’t be surprised. Your palm is begging for water which will provide it with nutrients.

Salty soil

A common mistake is too much fertilizer or a bad choice of the same when you grow the plant. Dissolved salts in the soil retain water by collecting it around their particles and the root hardly absorbs it. 

When the root environment is too salty, water absorption is almost impossible. In this way, leaves don’t receive enough water and nutrients and begin to decay. You will see the brown tips of your cat palm as a consequence.

Direct Sunlight

Cat Palm likes plenty of sunlight, but not the sunburn. You shouldn’t place your palm indirect rays of the Sun if you want to save it from the brown tips occurrence.

Low Temperature 

The tropical rainforests are warm. As you know those forests are natural places for Cat Palm to live.

So you mustn’t keep your palm in a cold room, or even worse, keep it outside the house in the winter months. Low temperatures cause tissue damage, especially leaf tissue.

Planting too Deeply

During the growth, if planted too deeply, cat palm will suffer from a lack of iron and other important minerals.

Also, root aeration will be impaired as well and you know what happens when your palm isn’t breathing well.

Pests

If you spot the brown tips even though none of the above mentioned potential issues are the cause of it, you should check if your palm has some uninvited guests such as weevils, spider mites, aphids, or even ants and remove them.

If you pick pesticide, be careful with the choice and the amount when applying it on your palm. The toxicity of their components can make the problem worse instead of fixing it.

You May Also Enjoy: Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Black? (And How to Fix It)

How to Fix Cat Palm Brown Tips

I listed down the causes of brown tips on the leaves of your Cat Palm, but I also took into account that you need help for fixing issues.

But first, don’t panic or be desperate if you realize that you’re not doing well with growing your Cat Palm. Read on and I’ll explain to you briefly how to treat each cause of your Cat Palm brown tips problem.

Underwatering 

Dampen the soil everywhere equally. Be sure to place the saucer under the pot. When the saucer is filled with water you should empty it. As for the frequency of watering, you should do it about 4-5 times per week.

How to Fix Inconsistent Watering 

Sometimes it’s difficult to estimate how often you need to water your palm, as well as the water amount. And then we have brown tips on the Cat Palm.

Poke your finger about one inch into the soil to check its moisture. It should be moist, but not wet. If the soil is dry at this depth, you should water your palm.

Low Humidity 

Check if you placed your Cat Palm near the heat sources, such as radiators, ovens, etc. These objects cause low humidity conditions. You can, for example, place your palm in the bathroom where the humidity is often high.

Try to use a small trick: group your palm with other plants. By grouping them, you will naturally increase the humidity. Pebble tray is also a popular solution. You can use an air humidifier to maintain the desired humidity level.

Direct Sunlight

If you already did this, then just cut wilted leaves carefully with gardening scissors. They will be replaced with healthy ones. Keep your Cat Palm in near the window, but not on direct sun rays so as not to cause sunburn.

How to Fix Over Fertilizing Issues

Overfertilizing causes salt build-up in the soil. In this case, you should leach the soil with distilled water to remove the salts.

Use good drainage capacity potting soil. As most fertilizers cause soil acidification, you should try to dampen the soil with alkaline water.  Low-salt fertilizer usage will also help to solve this problem.

Temperature Stress

Cat palm doesn’t like cold because the root doesn’t do well at low temperatures. The temperature in the room mustn’t go below 50°F/10°C.

Also, high temperatures and dry air are also ruinous. As I said, don’t keep your palm near heat-generating objects or air conditioners. Although Cat Palm likes warm conditions, the temperature shouldn’t go above 86°F/ 30°C.

Root Bound

Just repot your Cat Palm in a bigger container. Make sure you trim off some of the coiled roots before repotting.

Root Rot

The most often cause is poor drainage of the soil. First, make this primary cause up by well-draining.

Cut off the rotten piece and, if it’s possible, treat the healthy part of the root with some fungicide. Fungi often cause root rot.

Repotting Shock

This is hardly avoidable, but for as few consequences as possible. Minimize the root disturbance. Try not to shake the dirt from it while transplanting and leave old soil on the rootball.

Also, don’t fertilize your palm after repotting. Your palm needs time to adapt to the new conditions so fertilizing could bring more stress during the adjustment process.

Improper Potting Mix

Well, this is not a total disaster. Try to leach the potting soil, mix peat or vermiculite, and fertilize with some low-salt soluble fertilizer. If this doesn’t help within a few weeks, replace the soil.

Lack of Light

Place the palm on the brighter spot, like a window. If it’s not enough, try to illuminate your Cat Palm with artificial light. LED bulbs are my recommendation, because of the low-temperature generation.

Water Quality

Chlorinated and fluorinated water can impair root activity by salinization of the soil. Use distilled or rainwater. You can also filter the tap water to remove the impurities. 

Pest Damage

Prune the damaged and dead leaves. Use the appropriate pesticide, but be careful and don’t apply large amounts of it.

How to Prevent Brown Spots on Cat Palm Leaves

Better prevent than treat. To avoid the browning problem, water your Cat Palm properly – enough water, but never too much! Fertilize and aerate the soil occasionally.

Humidity is very important for this plant. Try to manage the humidity around 50%. Also, very important – do not water it with cold water! Provide the right amount for your Cat Palm and keep it from direct sunlight and freezing in cold months.

Most People Ask This:

How often should  I water my cat palm? 

My recommendation is about 5 times per week. You won’t harm your palm if you step back a little from these numbers but do not overdo it! 

Should I mist my cat palm? 

Cat Palm loves misting. Use some old bottle with a sprayer, fill it with water and let your cat palm bathe in humidity. Moderation is important here as well.

How do I get rid of spider mites? 

Boring pests like spider mites are a common kind of pests on the Cat Palm. They can develop resistance to various pesticides. In this case, try to avoid chemically based pesticides and try some homemade, natural method for getting rid of them.

Spraying the plant leaves with soap or detergent water works great and a very easy to do homemade method.

Try to wash your palm with a strong stream of water (which is not harmful to it) and reduce the number of spider mites. If this doesn’t help, try with pesticides but be careful with the amount.

The general conclusion is water your Cat Palm properly, but do so in moderation! Thank you for reading, I hope your plant benefits from this!

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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