Majesty Palm Root Rot: Prevent, Identify, and Treat It

By | Updated May 6, 2023

Root rot in Majesty Palms is mainly caused by overwatering and can lead to yellowing leaves, dark spots on fronds, and a rotting trunk. To prevent it, ensure moist but not waterlogged soil with good drainage. Treatment involves removing infected parts and reducing the watering frequency or repotting.

Due to their beautiful, tropical look, Majesty Palms (Ravenea rivularis) are a popular houseplant.

Unfortunately, they can be prone to root rot if not properly cared for.

Root rot is a fungal disease that can cause the roots of your Majesty Palm to become waterlogged and suffocate, leading to yellowing leaves, brown tips, and even rotting trunks.

Here we’ll discuss how to prevent, identify, and treat Majesty Palm root rot.

Symptoms of Majesty Palm Root Rot

Root rot can cause several issues with your Majesty Palm. It’s important to look for the following symptoms:

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves are one of the most common symptoms of Majesty Palm rotten roots. This occurs when the plant is not receiving enough oxygen to its roots due to waterlogging or overwatering.

The palm leaves will turn yellow and eventually drop off the plant.

A yellowing of the lower leaves can indicate a fungal infection such as root rot, while a yellowing of all the Majesty Palm leaves could be a sign of an under-watered plant or too much sun exposure.

Soft, Dark-Brown Spots on Fronds

One of the most obvious symptoms of Majesty Palm root rot is soft, dark-brown spots on the palm fronds.

These spots indicate that a bacterial or fungal infection has taken hold in the plant. If left untreated, this infection can spread and cause further damage to the palm’s foliage.

The infected fronds will eventually turn yellow and droop, and if the root rot has progressed far enough, it may even cause trunk rot which can kill the entire plant.

A Rotting Trunk

As root rot progresses, it can cause the Majesty Palm trunk to become soft and discolored. The rot may even cause the trunk to break open, exposing a black or brownish cavity inside.

This is an indication of advanced root rot, and it requires immediate attention to save the plant.

Stunted Growth

Another sign of Majesty Palm root rot is stunted growth. If the plant is not receiving enough oxygen or water, it won’t be able to absorb the nutrients it needs to grow properly.

The tree’s foliage will become sparse, and leaves might curl, discolor or drop prematurely.

Additionally, the tree trunk may also grow at a much slower rate than normal.

It is important to note that these symptoms could also be caused by other problems, such as too little water or fertilizer.

Wilted Leaves

Wilting is another sign of root rot. The leaves may become limp or droop, and the fronds may curl downward. This is due to the plant being unable to absorb enough water and nutrients, as the roots are being damaged by root rot.

Yellowing leaves and discolored foliage often accompany this symptom.

Foul Smelling Soil

If your Majesty Palm suffers from root rot, you might notice a foul smell from the soil.

This is due to the fungi and bacteria that are present in the soil. The odor may range from slightly sour to rotten and musty, depending on how advanced the infection has become.

This smell might be described as “sour” or “dank” and will quickly fill a room if not addressed.

The smell can also linger in the air when gently disturbing infected soil.

Darkened and Decaying Roots

Root rot can cause the roots of your Majesty Palm to turn dark.

The infected roots will often appear black or brown. These roots will be soft and mushy and may break apart when touched.

This indicates that the fungus has already taken hold of the plant’s root system and is causing significant damage.

Causes of Majesty Palm Root Rot

Root rot is a common problem for Majesty palms. Several conditions can lead to root rot, including:


The main cause of Majesty palm root rot is overwatering.

When Majesty palms are watered too frequently, their soil remains constantly wet and restricts the roots’ access to oxygen.

The Majesty palm’s roots become soggy and unable to absorb water and nutrients from the soil, leading to root rot.

In addition to the frequency of watering, the amount of water can also be an issue.

Majesty palm trees should be watered deeply enough that the soil is saturated and allowed to dry between waterings.

The soil should be allowed to dry at least two inches deep before being watered again.

Poor Drainage

Another common cause of Majesty palm root rot is poor drainage.

If the Majesty palm’s soil has inadequate drainage, it can lead to waterlogging and restrict the roots’ access to oxygen.

Majesty palms should always be planted in well-draining soil and a container with drainage holes. 

Also, Majesty palms should not be planted where water collects near the roots. Majesty palms should be planted on a slight slope or raised bed to ensure proper drainage when planted in the ground.

Lastly, mulching around Majesty palms can help improve the soil’s drainage and prevent waterlogging.

Pest Infestations

Pests can also cause Majesty palm root rot.

Majesty palms are susceptible to mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites, which can feed on the Majesty palm’s roots and leave them vulnerable to fungal diseases like root rot.

When a Majesty palm is affected by pests, it’s important to treat the Majesty palm with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to prevent further infestations.

Fungal Disease

Lastly, fungal diseases like Fusarium wilt and Phytophthora root rot can also affect Majesty palms.

These fungal diseases can spread rapidly and lead to majesty palm root rot if not caught early.

Symptoms of fungal diseases include yellowing foliage, stunted growth, and wilting leaves.

If you suspect a Majesty palm is affected by a fungal disease, it’s important to treat the Majesty palm with an appropriate fungicide.

Prevention of Majesty Palm Root Rot

Majesty Palm root rot can be prevented with careful attention to environmental factors.

Proper watering, adequate drainage, and the right soil type are essential for preventing root rot.

Adequate Drainage

Adequate drainage ensures that excess water is not retained in the soil around Majesty palms.

As Majesty palms are sensitive to overwatering, allowing water to escape prevents root rot. Majesty palms should be planted in well-draining soil and in a pot with holes in the bottom to ensure adequate drainage.

A well-prepared soil mixture should consist of two parts potting soil, one part perlite, and one part sand. You can also add compost for additional nutrients.

Drainage can also be improved by adding a layer of gravel around the Majesty palm’s root ball.

Proper Watering

It is important to prevent palm root rot by watering Majesty palms at the right amount and frequency.

Majesty palms prefer moist soil but should never be overwatered as this can cause root rot. Generally, Majesty palms should be watered at least once a week, which may vary depending on the season and environmental conditions.

Inspect the top 1-2 inches of soil to check if Majesty palms need water. If it’s dry, then it’s time to give Majesty palms a drink.

You can also use a soil moisture meter to monitor the Majesty palm’s soil moisture level and adjust watering accordingly.

When watering Majesty palms, it is important to thoroughly soak them until water begins to run from the bottom of the pot.

Use lukewarm water to prevent root rot, as cold or hot temperatures can shock majesty palm plants.

Proper Soil Type

To prevent root rot, Majesty palms should be planted in loose, well-draining soil with a neutral pH range of 6.5 to 7.0.

Using a prepackaged potting mix and compost will help ensure Majesty palms have the right type of soil they need to thrive and prevent root rot.

Don’t Overfertilize

Majesty palms should not be fertilized too often as this can create an environment where root rot is more likely to occur.

Fertilizing Majesty palms once or twice a year with a balanced fertilizer is sufficient to receive the necessary nutrients.

It’s best to fertilize Majesty palms during their active growing season, which usually takes place during the spring and summer months.

Repot Regularly

Majesty palms can become root-bound if left in their pots for too long. This can prevent the soil from draining properly, leading to root rot.

It is recommended to repot mature Majesty palms every two years and younger plants annually with fresh soil.

This will give them access to more nutrients and oxygen, allowing them to stay healthy and prevent root rot.

As a bonus, repotting will also allow you to check if any root rot has developed.

Don’t Neglect Pruning

Pruning off Majesty Palm dead or dying fronds can help reduce the risk of root rot. Not only does pruning help keep plants looking healthy, it also helps to improve air circulation and light penetration, which can boost plant health.

It is best to cut off any diseased fronds at the base of the stem to prevent root rot from spreading. Prune dead or dying foliage regularly to maintain a healthy appearance and reduce the risk of root rot.

Treatment of Majesty Palm Root Rot

If your Majesty Palm has developed root rot, there are some things you can do to help the plant recover.

  1. Stopping Watering Immediately – When root rot is present, it is important to stop watering the plant immediately. This will allow the soil to dry out and help to prevent further damage and the spread of the disease.
  2. Remove Affected Parts – Trim off any affected plant parts, such as leaves and stems. This will help improve airflow so the disease does not spread further and reduce competition for nutrients with healthy plant areas.
  3. Repot the Plant – Once you have removed any affected parts, it is important to repot the plant in fresh soil. Use a well-draining potting mix and ensure the soil is not too compacted.
  4. Use Fungicide – A fungicide may be used to help treat root rot. This should be applied directly to the affected areas, following the directions on the label carefully.
  5. Monitor Plant Progress – Finally, monitor the progress of your Majesty Palm carefully. If the plant doesn’t recover within a few weeks, it may be best to remove and discard it.

With proper care and attention, you can help prevent root rot in your Majesty Palm plants and keep them healthy and thriving.

How To Repot A Majesty Palm Plant to Treat Root Rot

The most effective way to treat Majesty Palm root rot is to repot the plant. This can help reduce the disease’s spread and allow for fresh, well-draining soil.

Here are some steps to take when repotting a Majesty Palm:

  1. Select a new container – Choose a pot slightly bigger than the current one with plenty of drainage holes at the bottom.
  2. Prepare new soil – Use a new well-draining potting mix to ensure your palm’s roots are not sitting in waterlogged soil. Use a soil mixture with a high-quality potting mix, perlite, and peat moss.
  3. Remove the plant from the old container – Gently pull out the palm and its root ball from its current pot. Tap it lightly to loosen up any dirt attached to its roots.
  4. Inspect the roots – Carefully inspect the root system for any signs of decay. Trim off any affected or dead parts and dispose of them safely.
  5. Treat any remaining root rot – If the disease is still present, apply a fungicide to the affected areas.
  6. Repot the plant – Place the Majesty Palm in its new container and backfill with fresh soil. Ensure there is enough space between the soil surface and the pot’s rim for watering.
  7. Don’t water immediately – After repotting, don’t water the Majesty Palm. Wait a few days to let it settle into its new environment before watering it.
  8. Watering with care – Be careful not to overwater once you begin watering. The soil should be kept moist but never soggy.
  9. Monitor the palm plant’s recovery – Monitor your Majesty Palm closely and check for any signs of distress. If it doesn’t start to recover, you may need to discard the plant.

Final Thoughts

Majesty Palm root rot is a serious issue that can quickly cause the death of your palm tree.

If you think your Majesty Palm has this fungal infection, acting quickly and treating the problem with the right methods is important.

With the proper treatment, you can save your tree and protect it from future infection.

It is important to remember that prevention is always better than cure.

Early detection of root rot allows for more timely intervention, so pay close attention to the condition of your Majesty Palm and check for signs of root rot regularly.

With regular maintenance and good care, you can enjoy your Majesty palm tree for years.

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