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The phoenix palm comes from the Canary Islands and is therefore also known as the Canary Island date palm. It is one of the best-selling pot palms. No wonder, after all, the palm tree forms a decorative crown in just a few years and adorns every terrace. It is ideal for beginners and is considered undemanding and easy to care for. What can be the reason if the leaves of the phoenix palm turn brown or form spots? Then what to do?


If the leaves of the phoenix palm tree turn brown, this can have various causes. These are often due to errors in care. We have compiled the most common causes and the associated measures for you.

The wrong location

Date palms like the Phoenix canariensis need a light, airy location. The homeland of the palm tree is characterized by warmth, high humidity and a lot of sun. She should find similar conditions on the terrace, balcony or in the garden.
If the phoenix palm tree gets too little light, the tips of the leaves die off, they turn brown and become dry. The reason for this is that photosynthesis does not run optimally without sufficient sunlight.

This can be remedied by an immediate change of location. Look for a place that offers the following conditions:

  • sunny to semi-shady position in summer
  • if possible, a location on the balcony or terrace on the south side of the house or a sunny spot in the garden
  • Hibernation in a bright spot in the conservatory or in the stairwell
  • at least 15 °C for indoor palms all year round
  • hardy varieties tolerate frost


If the leaves of the phoenix palm (Phoenix canariensis) turn brown, it can be caused by too much sunlight. The plant is sensitive, especially after the hibernation in the dark quarters. Young plants in particular are at risk. If they are exposed to the spring sun too quickly, yellow and then brown spots can appear on the leaves. These do not form again.

If you notice spots on the palm leaves and suspect the sun to be the trigger, you should quickly change location. After hibernation, look for one first semi-shady, sheltered location for the palm. After two to three weeks, the date palm can then move to a sunny spot on your patio.

Humidity too low

Humidity plays a crucial role in the development of the phoenix palm. Too little humidity damages the plant, which is reflected in the brown discoloration of the leaf tips. Especially in winter, when the phoenix palm moves to the conservatory or apartment to hibernate and is exposed to the dry heating air, it reacts quickly with brown leaves.

As soon as you notice brown tips, the humidity should be increased. Brown tips do not grow back, but the following measures will help:

  • Spray the palm leaves with lukewarm water
  • Use humidifiers or evaporators for the radiator
  • Set up a fountain in the room

Faulty water supply

Improper water supply to the phoenix palm must also be considered as one of the possible causes of brown discoloration of the leaves. Especially if you cultivate the palm tree in the apartment or in the conservatory, you should pay attention to the water supply. The roots must never dry out. Withered roots can no longer transport water and the plant dies. If the water supply is too high and waterlogging occurs in the bucket, the roots will rot. Both too much and too little moisture are reflected in brown and yellow discoloration of the leaves. The following measures help:

  1. Pour with finesse! Only when 2 centimeters of the upper layer of soil are dry does the date palm need new water.
  2. Avoid waterlogging! Most palms, including the phoenix palm, are excellent for growing hydroponically.
  3. Date palms on the terrace must be supplied with sufficient water in hot summers. They should never be watered in the midday heat, but rather in the cooler evening or morning hours.
  4. Protect the palm from heavy rain.

Faulty nutrient supply

One of the causes of brown spots on the leaves is an incorrect supply of nutrients. Phoenix palms react to over-fertilization as well as to an undersupply of vital nutrients. In specialist shops you can get the right fertilizer for the special needs of palm trees. This is quite expensive. Alternatively, you can use standard green plant fertilizer. It is cheaper and meets the needs of your palm as well. The phoenix palm should be fertilized regularly from April to September.

tip: Make absolutely sure that the substrate is not dry when you fertilize the palm, otherwise the roots could be damaged. Before fertilizing, water the plant so that the soil is moist. Now mix the irrigation water with the liquid fertilizer according to the dosage instructions and water the plant with it.

Wrong substrate

Phoenix palms and all other date palms need loose substrate to develop well. If the soil in the bucket is heavily compacted after a rain and subsequent heat, the plant suffers. If you suspect the causes of brown spots on the leaves of the date palm in the wrong substrate, transplant your palm into special palm soil or into plant granules.

danger: Ordinary potting soil is unsuitable for the phoenix palm due to the high peat content.

tip: Make sure the substrate for the palm tree in the planter is permeable. Loosen the soil every now and then.

Spider mite infestation

The Canarian date palm is considered to be robust and easy to care for. The most common pests are spider mites, which mainly attack the plant in winter quarters. The small pests are only about half a millimeter in size. They are yellowish, brown or red and are located on the underside of the leaf. Due to their small size, they can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Rather, those formed by the spider mites fall webs on.

Spider mites attack the leaves and strip them of plant sap, causing permanent damage. This is shown by yellowish and brownish spots on the leaf. If you notice spider mites, you should take immediate action.

  • Isolate the affected plant
  • vigorous showering of the palm tree, with smaller plants upside down
  • thorough removal of the mites with a rag soaked in alcohol

Phoenix smut disease

A disease that mainly occurs on phoenix palms and is shown by nodules on the palm leaves and brown discoloration is the phoenix smut fungus. If you recognize the symptoms, you must act quickly. Cut off affected leaves generously. Remove entire palm fronds if the infestation is severe. Use commercially available fungicides to save the plant.

danger: Never throw the diseased plant parts on the compost, but burn them or dispose of them in the residual waste.

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