Why does my Fan Palm have yellow leaves?

Last Updated: January 25, 2022

It’s not always easy to grow tropical plants indoors so it can be quite common for your Mediterranean Fan Palm to develop yellow leaves. It might not always be something to be concerned about, however, as natural ageing processes can mean your Fan Palm will develop some yellow leaves as it matures. There are some other more harmful causes of yellow leaves though and we will go through each of them below. 

As well as helping you to diagnose the issue we will also be going through how to treat the problems, as well as how to prevent them from causing any more yellow leaves on your Fan Palm in future.

It could just be natural ageing

If it’s only the oldest (and therefore often smallest) leaves on your Fan Palm that are turning yellow then you might actually have nothing to worry about at all! It’s perfectly normal for all houseplants to lose a few of their oldest leaves as they mature as it just means they are focusing more of their energy on new growth. Before these leaves fall off, they will nearly always turn yellow first. 

It’s important to monitor the speed at which the yellow leaves are developing as if it is slower than the rate of new growth, then you will usually have nothing to worry about. We are only really concerned if more than 1 or 2 leaves are turning yellow every few months. Monitor the rate of yellowing to see if it is speeding up or well above this rate as there might be another cause you need to look out for.

Lack of nutrients

Another reason your Fan Palm may be developing yellow leaves is a lack of nutrients. This can happen if you haven’t switched out the potting soil in over a year or you don’t fertilise during the growth period. Whilst you can still get plenty of new healthy growth without fertilising, it can be an added boost so we recommend this for any plants that are struggling.

We recommend using a diluted water-soluble fertiliser during spring and summer to make sure your plant is getting all the nutrients it needs. It’s also always a good idea to switch out the potting mix every once in a while to give your plants some more nutrients.

Pests are a worrying cause of yellow leaves

If the yellowing is not so consistent on the leaves and is showing up as small spots or patches across parts of your Fan Palm, then pests might be the cause. 

Inspect your Fan Palm, especially looking at the undersides of the leaves to see if you can spot any insects. The most common pests we tend to find on Fan Palms are spider mites which can be a bit of a pain to treat unless the problem is caught early. The best technique for removing them that we’ve found is taking your plant for regular showers, rinsing the leaves and stems with water before treating with an insecticide.


Another common cause of yellow leaves on a Fan Palm is too much water. If the yellow leaves are falling off the plant, and are quite droopy and almost soft to touch, then it’s likely you are overwatering or there is poor drainage. 

Fan Palms don’t like it when their potting mix doesn’t get the chance to dry out between waterings and it can cause their roots to rot. This will mean the plant is unable to get what it needs to survive from the potting mix which can cause leaves to turn yellow. The yellowing most often happens from the base upwards when your plant is overwatered. 

If you think your Fan Palm is suffering from too much water then check the moisture of the soil immediately and cut back on either how often you water your Fan Palm, or how much water you give it each time. We also recommend replacing the potting soil straight away if it’s waterlogged so that the roots can begin to recover.

Should I trim away the yellow leaves on my Fan Palm?

We do tend to recommend trimming off the yellow leaves on your Fan Palm. Unfortunately, once the leaf has turned yellow, there is no going back to its usual green colour. So removing the yellow leaves means your Fan Palm can begin to focus all its energy on growing new healthy leaves. 

When trimming the leaves off, always cut them with a sharp pair of scissors rather than ripping them off as this risks damaging the plant.

Check out our Fan Palm care guide for more information on how to best care for your plant and prevent any more common problems from developing in future.

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