Why Are My Coconut & Royal Palm Trees Dying?

What’s killing my Royal Palm?

Why is my Coconut Palm tree dying all of the sudden?

Is it getting the right nutrients or could lightning really be to blame?


Watching one of your precious palms go from green and healthy to brown and barely making it can be devastating!  We receive calls from people in distress over the same thing year after year and many of them assume improper fertilization is to blame.

Even though South Florida is known by many as the lightning capital of the world, it can be difficult for some people to believe that lightning is the culprit, because there are no obvious signs that their palm tree’s been hit. In reality though, the probability of damage from lightning to trees and plants in our area is very high! Coconut and royal palms are especially susceptible due to their height, but other tall palms are equally at risk.

There are certain signs you can look for to diagnose whether lightening is indeed the cause of your palm tree’s demise:

  • Symptom onset occurs within days of recent thunderstorm.
  • A sudden collapse of the crown occurs, usually beginning with the older, lower fronds.
  • The collapsed fronds are at first green but become brown and dead within days.
  • The crown shaft of royal palms is sometimes broken and collapsed at its base.
  • An upper hollowed trunk sometimes occurs in royal palms.
  • The hollowed trunk may at first be filled with slush from the overheated shattered tissue.
  • Odorless wound during the first few days of the injury and perhaps weeks thereafter.
  • Longitudinal gash on the trunk and/or crown shaft.
  • Shot holes in the trunk.
  • Bleeding of the trunk.
  • Fallen nuts.
  • Injury to understory plants.

A direct lightning strike on a palm is usually fatal due to the extreme heat, speed and shock waves generated by the bolt, although some may survive six months or longer following a strike. Unfortunately, the injury cannot be treated or prevented.

However, a dead palm can stay standing for years without any fronds and if it’s not a danger to people or buildings, it could act as a “lure” to attract wildlife! It would make an ideal nest site for woodpeckers and other cavity-nesting birds that live in our area! How’s that for finding the silver-lining? :)

If your palm trees need care because they’re not looking as healthy as they once were, give us a call at (800) 314-8813 to give you a free, no obligation inspection. Our skilled technicians know exactly what to look for when evaluating your palm and will do their best to bring it back to its former glory!

If you’re looking for more helpful insights into keeping your grass green or your landscaping Florida-friendly, check out our free ebook library.

Please feel free to ask questions or leave your comments below! We look forward to hearing from you!


Comments 2

  1. I was told to log on to this site by Lisa to learn about the Twirlly White Fly, where it came from, what it looks like, etc., to try to figure out if that is the problem with my palms, while I am waiting for your control person to come out to diagnoise my situation, and I have found nothing about the bug.

    1. Post

      Maxine, Thank you for reaching out to us and it sounds like someone will be in touch soon. For information now on the Spiraling Whitefly, visit our website at LaruePest.com and click on the Trees button at the top of the page and you will see a section totally devoted to the insect. Talk to you soon!

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