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Palm Symptom Diagnosis

Magnesium (Mg) deficiency.
Potassium (K) deficiency
Lethal bronzing disease - symptoms easily confused with K or Mg deficiency
Phosphorus (P) deficiency
Severe Manganese (Mn) deficiency - BEFORE treatment
Corrected severe Manganese (Mn) deficiency - AFTER treatment

Palm Nutrition

Unlike most trees and shrubs in your landscape, many of the exotic (non-native) palm trees have higher nutritional requirements and are more likely to have deficiency symptoms when soil nutrient levels are not adequate or when soil pH ties up soil nutrients making some nutrients unavailable.

Soil pH

Soil pH levels are often changed during construction or when fill soil from another area is brought onto the site. Often concrete mortar is mixed on the site in a location that is very near the planned structure. Many subcontractors have the bad habit of washing their equipment off under trees. Concrete residue can raise the soil pH in some areas to levels as high as pH 10 which will not support plants. Often soil pH levels of 8 or greater can be found near the barrier island in Florida. Never lime your soil without first checking the soil pH at your county IFAS Cooperative Extension office. Call them for instructions on how to gather a soil sample or samples from your yard. 


Most palm nutrient deficiencies can be visually identified. The following are all symptoms of some common macro- and micro-element ornamental palm deficiencies.  Boron deficiency can be especially dramatic. Usually only one of the following is visible but sometimes more than one symptoms is present, complicating diagnosis.

Nitrogen (N) deficiency. Not often seen in the urban landscape. Typically associated with containerized plants and nursery settings.
Royal palm with manganese (Mn) deficiency, commonly called "frizzle top".
Boron (B) deficiency
Boron (B) deficiency
Boron (B) deficiency
Boron (B) deficiency


Be very careful attempting to treat any of the symptoms showcased on this page. Too much fertilizer application can lead to phytotoxicity and plant death. Too little will be ineffective. The wrong, or cheap product, looking at you Epsom salts, will be ineffective. Not knowing when to apply an element in conjunction with another will also lead to worse deficiency. Example: K and Mg are antagonistic. Applying muriate of potash (K) without the correct amount of corresponding magnesium sulfate (Mg) will create a Mg deficiency even if one had not been present before. If this seems confusing give us a call.