10 foot tall Palm trees with drying, dark brown leaves

(Question)

I have a pair of ten foot tall Palm trees that were delivered 2 months ago. Prior to having them, the plants were abruptly moved from a spring/summer outdoor setting to an indoor storage room for an extended period of time after the possibility of having been exposed to frost briefly. Since receiving the plants, about 2 months ago, I have watered roughly once a week, 750 ml. each. The leaves are dark brown and brittle now. I would like to know if you can help determine what the problem is or recommend a tree doctor to diagnose and treat them?

(Answer)

It seems likely the plant is a species of Majesty palm (Ravenea) and they have a bad reputation as an indoor plant, unlike the much easier to care for Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa). These particular plants were deprived of light – and probably water – for at least a week before being transplanted into new pots and soil and by the time this happened the damage may have been done.

In their new home the light, soil and pot conditions seem to be fine – though perhaps not enough water and humidity.

Their needs are to water when slightly dry at the surface but not bone dry. They can be sensitive to root rot and cannot sit in moisture, yet they do need a lot of water regularly with well drained soil and prefer some humidity – love to be misted and warm. Indoors, they need lots of light with no direct sun.

Majesty palms have problems with spider mites and scales –  spraying with neem oil solution can be preventative.

Majesty palms get their bad reputation from their indoor usage and are often bought seasonally because of their low cost and beauty as an outdoor plant. It can be very difficult as an indoor plant and this is well documented.