Why does my Fan Palm have brown leaves? Causes and Solutions

Often the perfect beginner houseplant, the Fan Palm is pretty low maintenance and adaptable. However, this doesn’t mean they are immune to problems...

Often the perfect beginner houseplant, the Fan Palm is pretty low maintenance and adaptable. However, this doesn’t mean they are immune to the common issues you might have with any other plant type. If things aren’t right for your Fan Palm and the issue is either quite extreme or has been going on for a long time, then your Palm will start to develop brown leaves. This can come in the form of dry leaf tips, or droopy dark brown leaves throughout the plant. Different issues can cause your Fan Palm to turn brown so it’s important that you diagnose the issue properly so you can get right to treating it. 

Below we will be going through each of the four main reasons why Fan Palms develop brown leaves and brown leaf tips. We’ll go over how to spot the issue, treat it as well as prevent it from happening again in future.

Low Humidity 

Although Fan Palms are quite tolerant of dry air, over time they can develop brown leaf tips if there isn’t any humidity in the air. This won’t kill your plant and it usually won’t even turn an entire leaf brown as they are quite adaptable plants, but it can be why your Fan Palm has developed dry brown leaf tips. 

Although the current brown tips are irreversible, there are quite a few simple ways to up the humidity to stop any more from occurring.

Misting the leaves once a week

This is our top method to increase the humidity for your Fan Palm and doesn’t actually have to be done as frequently as with lots of other plant types. Mist the leaves using a spray bottle to help prevent more dry brown leaf tips from occurring. Not only will this increase the humidity but it will also get rid of any dust that has formed on the leaves – so it’s a win-win. We recommend misting your Fan Palm in the mornings as it leaves enough time for the water droplets to evaporate before it gets cold during the night. Cold damp leaves are more susceptible to root rot so you want to be careful here.

Put your plant in the shower

By rinsing down your plant you can instantly increase the humidity. Put your plant in the bath or sink and wash down the leaves. Use lukewarm water at low pressure so you don’t damage, shock or burn the plant.

Invest in a humidifier

These portable and affordable gadgets are a real game-changer when it comes to increasing the humidity for your plants and your Fan Palm will love you for it.

We recommend this humidifier from Amazon. We’ve been using it for years and our plants and palms really love it!

Dry soil can cause brown leaves

If your Fan Palm’s leaves have become quite brown, dry and crispy (starting from the tips and moving throughout the leaf) it may be because you have underwatered your plant. They are relatively drought-tolerant so won’t die on your immediately if you forget to water every so often, but consistent overwatering will start to cause issues for your Fan Palm. 

Make sure to regularly water your Fan Palm, a little and often to make sure that the soil is always slightly damp. Fan Palms don’t like to be swimming in water, but they don’t like to have dry soil for too long either.

Check the moisture levels in the soil to make sure that you are underwatering (using a moisture meter is a good idea here too) and adjust your watering schedule to make sure that your plant doesn’t develop any more brown leaves. It’s best to trim away the brown parts so your Fan Palm doesn’t waste any energy trying to revive these.

Overwatering can also cause brown leaves 

As with underwatering, overwatering can also cause a whole range of issues for your Fan Palm, including brown leaves. However, the appearance and feel of the leaf will be different from an underwatered Fan Palm. The leaves will turn darker brown and look and feel a little softer and droopier, rather than dry and crispy.

Again, before adjusting your watering, you want to inspect the soil first to check if it’s waterlogged. Over time, this can cause the roots to rot and your Fan Palm will be unable to take up the water and nutrients it needs to thrive.

We always recommend replacing the soil as soon as you notice you’ve overwatered your Fan Palm to prevent any further damage to the root system. After a few weeks, you should start to see your Fan Palm looking a little healthier. It can take a bit longer for your plant to recover from being overwatered but with a little bit of patience and TLC, your plant should bounce back in a few weeks. 

Make sure to adjust your care in the long term to avoid the problem happening again. Regularly check the moisture in the soil before watering as the amount and frequency you’ll need to water your Fan Palm will change throughout the year.

Too much fertiliser can cause brown leaf tips

Most generic plant foods and fertilisers will recommend a dosage for your plants, but it’s often far too much for a Fan Palm and can result in brown leaves, in particular brown leaf tips and edges. Look at it this way; size, maturity, environment and plant type all impact how much fertiliser your plant needs, so there can never be a one-fits-all amount. 

We always recommend feeding at half the recommended dosage for Fan Palms and if you want to, you can leave it out completely and see still luscious growth.  Our plants have always liked the liquid fertiliser from Miracle Gro which is available on Amazon here.

Those are the 4 most common reasons why Fan Palms develop brown leaves. Brown leaf tips are pretty common and sometimes hard to avoid in all Palm types but if the problem is getting quite severe, then it’s definitely worth investigating. Watering issues can be the most deadly to your Fan Palm and can cause much more than a few brown leaves if left untreated so that would always be the first place we looked. 

To learn more about how to best care for your plant, as well as how to diagnose, treat and prevent other common issues, check out our Fan Palm care guide.


Written by Billy Dawson


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