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Why do my kentia palms keep dying?


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Hi all,

Beginner kentia enthusiast here - I absolutely love the look of these beautiful plants but I can’t keep them healthy! The main photos are of my most recent purchase. Also pictured is the one sad remaining frond of two large kentias I had before her, RIP.

This one has already lost most of her smaller fronds and a couple of larger ones, and I fear she’s going to go the way of my first two. Almost all of the remaining fronds have areas of yellow/orange haloing spots and brown and crispy tips and other patches. The underside of one of the fronds (pictured) has lots of blackish red mottling, and this is present on some of the others to a lesser extent.

She is still in original nursery pot and soil - I bought her in May and do worry that I severely underwatered her during the summer, but now I use the moisture probe (pictured) and water when she’s dry to about 1/2 down the pot, making sure all the drips have stopped before putting back in decorative pot (which also has a drainage hole of its own). She used to be near the bay window in an east-facing room for the first month or two, getting a tiny bit of direct light on some of the fronds for a couple of hours, and lots of bright indirect light at other times, but as she did not look happy with dying fronds (again maybe due to underwatering) I moved her into the west-facing bedroom with no direct sunlight. It’s a dull/darkish room in the winter. The 2 previous kentias were in these same locations.

Is she just dying a slow death from initial under watering? Could it be pests? Or something to do with the room setups just not being right? Too dry? I can’t get a humidifier as the room already has some damp and that cat tree pictured gets mouldy sometimes from it, so am I destined to lose another? 

Any help is massively appreciated, even if it’s to say she’s a lost cause in my home and to give her to someone with a conservatory or something!

Thank you so much!


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More light. Really, our conception of what is bright and a plant's are poles apart; even the understory of the forest (where the Kentia grows) is much brighter than what we need to see well.

Secondly, are you feeding it? Nursery media generally contain zero nutrients. I'd suggest a slow release like Osmocote. Those blotches on the leaves could well be a sign of nutrient deficiency.

I don't think underwatering or humidity is the problem; I think it's probably light. Not sure where your are, but the further from the equator, the more likely my theory is correct, I see you have a Zamioculcas in there, which will practically grow in a coal mine, but a kentia won't. Just my opinion, but I think your kentias probably suffer from a lack of light and nutrients,


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Kentia palms (Howea forsteriana) are solitary palms that are frequently grown as multiples (as yours).  But I think the problem has been your chronic under-watering.

I think waiting till the container of a multiple planting is DRY,  1/2 down, is too dry..., even in the Winter (assuming you are somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere).

Kentia palms can take some direct sun, so I don't think that was the problem. Current location has only one small window or are there other windows in the room?

Only other thing I can think of is the cat potentially using the pot to urinate. Have you noticed this at all?

I would move it to the bay window and increase watering. In the Spring, you might want to transplant it into a slightly bigger pot. I would not be feeding until the health of the palm stabilizes.

These are one of my favorite indoor palms too, btw.  Good luck!


P.S., You keep referring to the palm as "she", just be aware, their flowers are actually "bisexual", so male and female floral parts are on all their flowers. Maybe "they" resent this.



Edited by oasis371
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I bet it’s not under watered. Take those fingers and dig down deep how’s the soil down there. A lot of times the roots up too do get dry yes but as this happens the ones of the bottom stay soggy wet or very moist. So root rot starts there even with the top of the plant dry. In my experiences when palms are brought indoors from full sun. They tend to loose the oldest fronds prettt quick and focus there energy on the top fronds. Hope that helps 

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