The parlor palm, a small palm tree you can place indoors, is popular as a houseplant because of its shade-tolerant nature.
However, have you ever found that the leaves of your parlor palm have become pale while growing it indoors?
In this article, I’ll introduce the reasons behind the fading color of parlor palm leaves and share three tips for caring for them.
- Why Are The Colors of Parlor Palm Leaves Fading?
- What Are The Three Tips For Growing Parlor Palms?
- Key Takeaways
Why Are The Colors of Parlor Palm Leaves Fading?
Let’s first look at the main reasons why the leaves of your parlor palm might be losing their color.
If you haven’t repotted your parlor palm for over two years since purchasing it, there’s a chance it might be root-bound, meaning its pot is filled with roots.
If the number of leaves and the height of the plant have increased since you bought it, the leaves could become pale or yellowish due to being root-bound.
When a plant is root-bound, it struggles to absorb water and nutrients, often causing the leaves to change color or become deformed.
How to check if your plant is root-bound
- Roots are sticking out from the bottom of the pot
- Water doesn’t seem to be absorbed by the soil when watering
- Try to remove the plant from the pot; if it’s difficult to do so, there’s a high chance it’s root-bound
If you suspect your parlor palm is root-bound, repot it during the warmer months, from spring to fall.
Choose a pot that’s slightly larger than the current one (about 1 inch wider in diameter), and use soil designed explicitly for houseplants. Avoid repotting during colder months, as it might weaken the plant.
2- Direct Sunlight (Too Strong Sunlight)
The green color in plants comes from the pigment chlorophyll responsible for photosynthesis. When plants don’t get enough sunlight, they may try to produce more chlorophyll.
On the other hand, exposing plants to direct sunlight or intense afternoon sun can cause “sunburn,” making the leaves appear faded.
Parlor palms, in particular, are shade-tolerant plants. They prefer “partial shade,” “bright shade,” or “light filtered through a lace curtain.” Exposing them to overly strong sunlight can cause their leaves to become pale.
3- Nutrient Deficiency
Another reason for the fading color of parlor palm leaves is a lack of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, calcium, and other essential elements.
If you haven’t repotted your parlor palm for several years, the soil may be lacking in nutrients.
If your plant is not root-bound (as described in section 1), try providing houseplant fertilizer from spring to fall (when the temperature is above 60°F).
If you suspect your plant is root-bound, repot it in fresh soil, and avoid giving it fertilizer, as root-bound plants are more prone to root rot.
4- Pest Damage
Another possible cause for the fading color of parlor palm leaves is damage from pests.
In this case, you should see small insects on your parlor palm. Common pests that affect parlor palms include spider mites and scale insects.
These pests are more likely to infest indoor plants with poor air circulation. If left untreated, they can cause the leaves to change color due to their feeding and eventually kill the plant.
Common pests on parlor palms
- Spider mites: Often infest dry indoor environments. If you see web-like structures near the base of the leaves, spider mites are likely present. Remove them as soon as you spot them. Leaves damaged by spider mites often show irregular discoloration. Misting the leaves can help prevent spider mite infestations.
- Scale insects: Can infest indoor plants in winter with closed windows. These small, grain-like insects come in various shapes and colors. If there are only a few, you can remove them, but if there’s a large infestation, using insecticides may be more effective. Check the undersides and leaf bases for scale insects if the leaves are sticky.
- Direct sunlight (too strong sunlight)
What Are The Three Tips For Growing Parlor Palms?
Now let’s introduce three tips for successfully growing parlor palms.
1- Avoid Temperatures Below 41 °F
Parlor palms are sensitive to cold temperatures, especially during winter. Maintaining a temperature of at least 50°F will help keep their leaves looking beautiful.
2- Keep Them Out of Direct Sunlight
Parlor palms prefer partial shade. If they are indoors, placing them near a window or behind a lace curtain, where they receive filtered sunlight, is best.
3- Ensure Good Air Circulation
Air circulation can often be overlooked, especially during winter when we focus on maintaining temperature.
However, air circulation is essential for plants. When windows are closed more often in winter, indoor air can become stagnant, leading to root rot or mold.
Use a fan or an air circulator to keep the air moving around your parlor palm to provide proper air circulation.
In summary, I discussed the main reasons why parlor palm leaves could become pale and shared three tips for growing them successfully.
It’s a common belief that “plants want lots of light.” While some species crave intense light, parlor palms, which are shade-tolerant, can suffer from leaf damage when exposed to intense sunlight.
Parlor palms may be small but grow well from warm spring to fall. If you haven’t repotted your parlor palm since purchasing it, there’s a good chance it’s experiencing root-bound issues.
Use this article as a reference to identify the possible causes for the pale leaves on your parlor palm:
Possible reasons for parlor palm’s pale leaves:
- Direct sunlight (too intense or exposure to the western sun)
- Pest damage
Three tips for growing parlor palms:
- Keep them away from temperatures below 41°F
- Avoid direct sunlight
- Ensure good air circulation