Although we often recommend Fan Palms to beginner plant parents, they are definitely still susceptible to the same common problems that you’ll find with most other plant types.
One of these issues is a drooping plant and this can often mean there are issues with watering or temperatures. In this article, we will go through each of the most common causes of a drooping Fan Palm as well as how to effectively treat and prevent the issue long-term.
A droopy Fan Palm can indicate overwatering
It’s super easy to do accidentally but overwatering can cause quite severe problems fairly quickly and can cause plant death if consistent.
However, if drooping leaves are the only thing that seems to be wrong with your Fan Palm, then this is good news – it means that the problem is in the early stages and should be easier to fix. Other signs of overwatering include soft leaves, brown or yellow leaves, leaf drop and musty-smelling potting mix.
The reason that overwatering is so harmful to your Fan Palm is that it causes waterlogged soil which cuts off air circulation in the potting mix. This can lead to root rot which prevents the plant from taking in any oxygen and nutrients. It also means that the roots can’t physically support the plant anymore. The combination of these two issues is why overwatering will often cause your Fan Palm to droop its leaves and stems.
To confirm that this is the issue, take your plant out of its pot which will allow you to closely inspect the potting mix and root system. If the potting mix feels soggy and clumpy, then this means your plant has been overwatered. You should also check over the roots as if they are soft and dark brown in colour, then they have started to rot.
How to fix an overwatered Fan Palm
Replace any waterlogged potting mix straight away.
Don’t wait for the soil to dry out naturally as this only risks there being more damage to the root system. By refreshing the soil it allows the roots to begin to recover.
Trim off any rotten roots and leaves
If your plant is trying to keep rotting leaves and roots alive, it will be wasting valuable energy that it could be using to recover and produce new healthy growth. Use clean, sharp scissors to cut away dying growth. This includes any roots that are dark brown and soft in colour and any leaves that have started to turn brown and sickly.
How to prevent overwatering in future
Now that you’ve fixed the issue for the time being, let’s flip the attention to the things you can do to ensure you won’t overwater your Fan Palm again and cause any more drooping leaves (and other more serious issues as well)
Only water when the potting mix is dry
The most accurate way of determining soil moisture is using a moisture meter. They are affordable little devices that you pop into the soil and they will give you a moisture reading.
Increase drainage in the pot
This will help solve the occasional accidental overwatering as it allows some of the water to escape. Add some perlite to the pot, ensure that the drainage holes aren’t blocked and switch to terracotta pots instead of plastic ones.
Downsize the pot size if necessary
One major factor when it comes to overwatering is the pot size as the more soil in the pot, the longer it will take to dry out. When inspecting the potting mix and root system, if you find there is a lot of soil compared to the root system then you might want to decrease the size of the pot.
Adjust your watering schedule depending on external factors
Although watering calendars can help us remember to water our plants, they aren’t actually the best thing for our green friends. It’s important to adjust how much and how often you water your Fan Palm depending on the time of year, temperature fluctuations, sunlight levels and maturity of your plant. There’s no one fits all timeline which is why moisture metres are such a great tool.
Underwatering can also cause drooping leaves on a
As well as too much water, too little can also cause your Fan Palm to start drooping. This is because of the damage to the root system that is done by both extremes.
If you find that the stems and leaves look a little lifeless and droopy, it is most probably because the soil has been too dry for too long. Stick a finger or a chopstick in the top few centimetres of the soil to check the moisture levels. You can also remove your plant from its pot to check the soil moisture and see if the issue has progressed far enough so that the roots have started to crisp up.
How to fix an underwatered Fan Palm
You might be thinking that the best way to fix an underwatered Fan Palm is to simply drown it in water but this can actually be harmful to your Fan Palm if the soil goes from one extreme to the other (yes plant’s can get stressed by change too!)
Instead, you want to reintroduce frequent watering for a week or two and this should solve the problem and stop your plant from drooping down. Over time keep an eye on how much you are watering your Fan Palm by checking the moisture in the soil frequently and adjusting your watering routine. You may want to increase how frequently you are watering or increase how much water you give your Palm each time.
Cold temperatures may also be to blame
If you have inspected the potting mix of your Fan Palm, and analysed your watering schedule and just can’t be sure that watering issues is the cause of the drooping leaves, then it may be extreme temperature fluctuations that are the problem.
Make sure that you draft-proof any windows or doors that are close to your Fan Palm (and other tropical houseplants) as well as move them away from any air conditioning vents as these can be quite damaging to your plants during summer.
Our number one tip is to buy a digital thermometer that you can place next to your plants. This will allow you to spot any extreme fluctuations and adjust the placement of your plants throughout your home.
If your Fan Palm is living in a cool room or exposed to cold drafts, it’s also more at risk from root rot. This is because it will take longer for the potting mix to dry out which increases the chances you are overwatering. This is the perfect mix for problems such as root rot to occur which is why you should be extra cautious when it comes to caring for your plants in winter or in colder rooms in your home.
Those are the most common reasons why your Fan Palm may have started drooping. Once you have diagnosed the issue and started making changes to treat it, it’s important that you keep a close eye on your Palm over the next month or so. This is to ensure that the changes you’ve made are properly solving the issue and things are moving in the right direction.
To find out more about how to care for your plant, check out our Fan Palm care guide.
Written by Billy Dawson