Why is my Kentia Palm drooping?

Last Updated: September 27, 2022

With their large gracious long leaves, these Palms are relatively hardy plants compared to a lot of houseplant types. However, this doesn’t mean that they are immune to the common issues that so often happen. If you find that your Kentia Palm has started drooping then this definitely means that something isn’t quite right. 

In this article, we will be going through each of the main causes of a droopy Kentia Palm as well as methods to diagnose the problems and treat them effectively.

Overwatering is a common cause of a drooping Kentia Palm

Consistent overwatering will mean the leaves on your Kentia Palm will start to droop as their roots begin to rot and turn mushy in the waterlogged soil. You won’t often see any issues with just overwatering once in a while but if you don’t let the potting mix dry out then over time this will start to harm your plant quite severely. Kentia Palms need to be watered no more than once a week in the hottest months of the year, and less frequently in autumn and winter.

If you think that you may have overwatered your plant, confirm by checking the soil and root system. If the soil is waterlogged, replace it with fresh dry mix and trim away any rotten roots. Don’t wait for the potting mix to dry up over naturally as this risks further damage. It’s also important that you are very careful when removing the soil from the roots as you don’t want to cause any further damage to an already sensitive plant. 

Moving forward, to avoid the issue happening again, make sure to check the moisture in the soil before you water your Kentia Palm. There are a few really easy methods to check the soil moisture. Firstly, use the finger or chopstick method or secondly use a moisture meter. With other houseplant types, we also recommend lifting your plant up but as Kentia Palms get pretty large, you don’t want to risk hurting yourself.

A drooping Kentia Palm can also suggest underwatering

What’s strange about drooping plants is that both overwatering and underwatering can have the same impact. This is because the root system becomes damaged at both extremes.

Kentia Palms can be forgiving if you forget to water them occasionally, but if the problem goes on for several months you’ll start to notice issues. Alongside drooping stems, you may notice crispy brown leaf tips or leaves, stagnant growth and leaf drop.

How do I know if underwatering is the cause of the drooping leaves?

There are a few key indicators you should look for to determine whether underwatering is causing your Kentia Palm’s leaves to droop down. 

  1. The leaves are dry and crispy

    Along with drooping leaves, if the leaves on your Kentia Palm are also very dry, crispy or break easily if touched, then you are probably underwatering your Palm. If the issue goes on for a while you may also see that the leaves are starting to turn brown.

  2. The potting mix is dry

    An easy way to see if the drooping leaves are caused by underwatering is by taking the plant out of its pot and inspecting the potting mix. If the soil feels very dry to touch, almost like dust, and doesn’t stick to your fingers, the roots or the pot then your plant needs more water. It will also appear quite light in colour.

  3. The soil is coming away from the sides of the pot

    This is a great method to be able to tell if your plant is being underwatered just by looking at it. As the soil dries out it will compact and come away from the pot.

  4. Use a moisture meter

    This is the most accurate way of measuring soil moisture. You simply pop them in the soil and it will tell you how much moisture is in the soil so you can be 100% sure you are watering your plants correctly. A must-have for every plant parent!

How do I fix an underwatered Kentia Palm?

Your first instinct may be to drown your Kentia Palm in water to stop the leaves from drooping and make up for all the times it went without water. However, if your Kentia Palm’s environment changes very suddenly it can cause your plant to go into shock (yes plants can be pretty adverse to change as well! 

Instead, you want to slowly reintroduce watering by giving your Palm a little once a day for one week. This will slowly dampen the soil but won’t shock your plant and you should start to see your plant returning to full health. In future, try increasing either how deeply you water your Kentia Palm each time or increasing the frequency of watering. 

Cold temperatures could also be to blame

Another potential cause of drooping leaves on a Kentia Palm is extremely cold temperatures. They need warm environments to properly thrive and can get quite shocked and damaged by cold air and drafts. Whilst this won’t cause your plant to droop from one day to the next, if the issue persists you will start to notice issues developing. 

There are two main things to watch out for when it comes to cold airstreams and drafts. Firstly, small cracks in windows and external doors can expose your plant to some really cold temperatures at night so make sure that you draft-proof any windows or doors that are close to your Kentia Palm. Secondly, make sure that your plant isn’t too close to any air conditioning vents as whilst the cool air is a nice break from the heat for you, it can cause some issues for your plant.

Pests are a concerning cause of a drooping Kentia Palm

Whilst this is a rarer issue (especially for plants that are always indoors), pests can take hold of your plant and cause several problems including drooping leaves and stems. However, if you catch the problem early, you can have a lot of success fighting against the pests. 

The first thing to do is isolate your plant away from your other houseplants to stop any pests that might be living on your plant from spreading across your urban jungle. Then inspect your plant closely to spot any further signs of pests. These include yellow or brown spots on the leaves, holes in the leaves or white webbing across the stems. You also want to, of course, look out for actual pests themselves though using a magnifying glass will help you with this one.  

If you do spot any pests (or signs of them), cut away the worst affected leaves and replace the potting mix to curb the infestation. Then wash down the leaves and soil in the shower using warm water and wipe over them with a clean cloth. We also recommend treating your Kentia Palm with neem oil and an insecticide.

Those are the most common causes of a drooping Kentia Palm. As there are a few different causes, we recommend going through each one whilst inspecting your plant and its potting mix and trying to eliminate them one by one. Then, once you’ve made the appropriate changes to either its environment or the care you’re giving your plant, keep a close eye on it for the next few weeks to ensure things are improving. 

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

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