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The Forstersche Kentia is one of the most popular palm trees in tubs due to its extravagant palm fronds and the growth height of about three meters. Better known as the Kentia palm, the plant within the tribe Areceae is characterized by its slow growth rate and evergreen leaves, which are a characteristic aspect of the palm tree. If Howea forsteriana loses leaves or turns brown, this is a sign that something is wrong with the Kentia.

First aid

As soon as the palm leaves are turning more and more brown, either defects, care errors or a pest infestation are the cause. The brown color often begins at the tips of the palm leaves and then extends to the stalk. At the same time, these can dry up and either fall off by themselves or hang weakly on the shoots if nothing is done about the cause of the discoloration.

Please note: the vitality of the Kentia palm suffers greatly despite its robust nature. Even small discolorations should be examined immediately. To help the Howea forsteriana a little, you can remove the infested palm leaves:

  • use clean, sharp scissors
  • cut off the stem
  • Leave at least 3 to 4 centimeters of stalk
  • from this grows a new palm frond

Unfortunately, you have to wait until the frond is completely brown and has already started to dry before you cut it. At this point, the plant itself begins to cut off the nutrient and water connection so that other parts can be fed. This is also the reason why brown Kentia fronds dry up. This measure is particularly recommended if you are not yet sure about the cause and still need to observe the plant. By removing the brown fronds, you can preserve the vitality of the palm even longer.

tip: If only individual leaf tips have discolored so far, you can also remove them with a clean and sharp tool to help the plant. Carefully clip the leaf tips along the border of the still green leaf tissue, being careful not to damage the healthy parts or the problem will spread faster.

causes and treatment

After first aid for the plant comes determining the cause of the browning of the palm fronds. This is the only way to determine why the Kentia palm gets brown leaves or loses a leaf. The big advantage: The individual causes can be treated with appropriate steps and in this way the plant can recover after some time. Due to their robust nature, leaf discolouration in most cases only occurs after a long period of time due to one cause. If they appear suddenly and quickly, several factors can play a role. The causes and treatment options are explained in detail in the following paragraphs.


One of the classic problems of the Kentia palm is waterlogging. Since the plant is a tropical plant that can only be kept in a bucket, the amount of water administered must be just right. Especially with these palm trees, many people tend to water too much because they just seem thirsty. Even over the summer, the plant does not need too much water because it gets by with very little. So check the substrate immediately and if it is wet, you should repot immediately, following a few steps:

  • Set up a drainage layer
  • Gravel or potsherds are suitable for this
  • sufficient drainage holes
  • Don't forget coasters
  • remove damaged or rotten roots
  • completely remove rotten soil

When repotting, simply make sure that there are no longer any traces of moisture. If many roots are rotten, you should trim or remove them as thoroughly as possible to allow the growth to grow back to health. As soon as it has been repotted, you should make sure when watering that you only use enough water to keep the substrate permanently moist. Throw away the irrigation water in the saucer immediately after watering, as the Kentia can quickly suffer from too much water. Be sure to use low-lime water for the palm tree, including rainwater or filter water. As long as the root ball doesn't get flooded, the palm will be fine and you don't have to worry about brown or dried up foliage.

tip: As damaging as waterlogging is for the palm tree, drought is also not to be trifled with and the required amount of water for the plant should be given as soon as possible. If the substrate is too dry after a finger test, you should simply pour in plenty, but avoid waterlogging.

nutrient deficiency

Light brown leaves on the Kentia can also indicate a nutrient deficiency. Fertilizing is not really a problem with the Kentia palm, as it only needs additional nutrients on the warm days of the year. Nevertheless, it can happen that you either fertilize too little or administer the wrong fertilizer that the Kentia palm cannot use. Suitable fertilizers should have the following properties:

  • nitrogenous
  • Potassium
  • Long-term fertilizer possible

Flowering or green plant fertilizers, for example, are well suited for Kentia palms, as they support the growth of the leaves. As a result, the plant does not lose it and also does not suffer from possible discolouration, which also has a negative effect on vitality. From mid-March after the hibernation until October, fertilizer is applied every two to three weeks. Observe the plant to be able to adjust the frequency even more precisely. For example, if the tips of the leaves are brown, you should increase the frequency of fertilizer additions. This way you can be sure that your Kentia is doing well.

Dark location

The Kentia palm is a true sun worshiper and can suffer from locations that are too dark. The leaves turn brown and the Howea forsteriana loses it after a while. For this reason, you should definitely check whether your specimen has enough sun and light available and if not, adjust the location accordingly or change it completely. It should have the following properties in relation to the amount of light in order to be suitable for the palm tree:

  • Light requirement: bright to semi-shady
  • no direct sun over midday

Kentia are often placed in a corner of the room, which only gets a little light and can cause severe damage. For this reason, you should opt for a place in a stairwell, in a conservatory or living room that does not have to endure too much sunlight at midday. Southwest-facing windows are a good alternative here, for example. You can also enable a growth spurt if you bring the plant outdoors over the summer. There she can fill up with unfiltered light.

Low humidity

Kentia palms are classic tropical plants that not only require warm temperatures and sufficient light. High humidity is also important for the plants, as without it the leaves will turn brown and then fall off. You don't have to do much for this. Spray the leaves of the Kentia palm several times a week with low-lime water to increase the humidity and keep it constant. But do not give too much water, otherwise it may cause light discoloration.

cool temperatures

As you probably know, the Kentia comes from the warm tropics and is therefore dependent on a constant temperature. If it is too cold, which can often happen in winter or spring, it will lose its leaves due to stress. A permanent temperature of 18°C to 20°C is required here and it should not fall below 15°C during the winter. Be sure to check and adjust the location for temperature. Since it tolerates dry heating air quite well, there is nothing wrong with raising the room temperature in this way, as long as you regulate the humidity.

tip: If you choose a location directly behind a window or a glass door, you should make sure that the Kentia palm does not heat up too much. While it does require a certain temperature, prolonged heat behind glass is not conducive to growth and creates stress, which in turn leads to brown leaves.

lack of space

Like many other palm trees, the Kentia is dependent on sufficient space because its growth is not exactly dainty. If the plant hits walls or objects with the leaves, this can lead to discoloration of the tips. At the same time, this can affect the entire sheet. Kentia palms should therefore stand quite freely and not be harassed by obstacles even after years. This also applies to spending time outdoors. The palm tree recovers very well from this cause.


Thrips are among the pests of the Kentia palm, causing the plant to quickly lose one leaf after the other. An infestation can be recognized not only by the loss of leaves and possible discolouration, but also by small black insects that quickly disappear when moved. Since Kentia palms do not respond well to chemical agents, isolate infested plants, rinse well with water, and scrape thrips with a knife. It also helps remove infested greenery from the palm tree.

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