Sago Palm Turning Brown: Causes and Solutions

Last Updated: February 1, 2022

Want a bit of the tropics in your own home? Then the Sago Palm is a great way to do this. They aren’t as sensitive as a lot of other plants but this doesn’t mean that you won’t from time to time experience some common problems. If things aren’t right then your Sago Palm may develop brown leaves. Whether these come in the form of entire leaves turning brown, or just brown tips forming, it’s best to diagnose the problem as quickly as possible to prevent it from affecting more of your Palm.

Underwatering is the most common cause

If the leaves on your Sago Palm have turned light brown, dry and crispy, then you may not be watering your plant enough. Sago Palms really don’t need that much water so this issue must have been going on for a while for it to be affecting the leaves and turning them brown. This problem tends to become more prevalent during summer where hot dry climates do mean they can’t go for weeks and weeks without water. 

Before you go and drown your Sago Palm in water, you need to make sure that this is actually the issue. Carefully take your Sago Palm out of the pot to inspect the soil. If it is very dry and powdery then your plant will need more water. You should also inspect the root system as dry shrivelled and crispy roots also indicate underwatering.

Slowly reintroduce water to your plant over the course of a week, rather than drowning it all at once. A sudden change in environment can shock your Sago Palm and cause more problems than brown leaves.

A lack of humidity can also cause brown tips

Sago Palms prefer an environment with high humidity levels. If you find that the tips of your Sago Palm’s leaves are turning brown, then it may be because the air in your home is too dry. 

There are a few really simple methods that we use to ensure the humidity is at a comfortable level for your Sago Palm. Firstly, it’s a great habit to get into spraying the leaves with a mist bottle every few days. You can also create a pebble tray, put your Sago Palm in the bathroom and leave the shower on hot for 5 minutes or for a quick and easy solution you could invest in a humidifier to keep the levels perfect all year round.

You should also think about buying a good humidity monitor to keep track of everything and ensure your Sago Palm is getting enough humidity to avoid more brown leaves.

Brown leaves can signal pests – scale insects or spider mites

A less common but more concerning possibility why your Sago Palm has brown leaves is a pest infestation. Although this is rare with plants that don’t spend any time outdoors, it can still happen. Sago Palms are usually infested with either scale insects or spider mites so look out for these on your plant. Pests suck on the nutrients which is what causes the leaves to turn brown, die and eventually fall off.

If you find pests on your Sago Palm there are a few steps you need to take immediately. Firstly, isolate the infected plant away from all of your other houseplants to stop the pests from spreading to your other beloved plants (they can jump across leaves that are close or overlapping). 

To treat the pests on your Sago Palm, and prevent more brown leaves, we recommend giving the whole plant a shower. Make sure the shower isn’t on full pressure and you should be fine. You should also treat your Sago Palm with an organic insecticide to fight the infestation.

Those are the main reasons why your Sago Palm has developed brown leaves or brown leaf tips. It’s probably one of the most common issues to develop on these Palms so it’s good to keep an eye out for them so you can catch the problem early and get your Palm back to full health. When it comes to removing the brown leaves from your Palm, we do recommend that you remove only leaves that have fully turned brown and leaving brown leaf tips on the plant. 

Check out our Sago Palm care guide to learn more about how to keep your Palm happy and healthy!

Fiddle and Thorn is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Take our houseplant survey!

Quickly respond to our 30 second houseplant survey and get 75% off our Complete Houseplant Care eBook!

Take the Survey

No thanks...