Parlor palm (chamaedorea elegans) drooping & crispy leaves

Crispy leaves and drooping leaves, two ailments that all plant enthusiasts hate to see in their Parlor Palm. However, although they may look similar, these two conditions stem from very different causes and require separate treatments.

As always, the first thing you need to do is identify what exactly is going on with your plant. Then, you’ll know what steps to take to alleviate the problem.

Drooping Leaves vs. Crispy Leaves

The first thing you need to remember is that these two maladies are two different problems. Drooping leaves may be caused by root rot, mealy bugs, or soil that’s too wet, while crispy leaves may be caused by low humidity or dry air.

To solve your Parlor Palm’s droopy leaves, try repotting the plant in a right-size pot with better drainage and add more soil if necessary. To treat crispy leaves, try raising the humidity levels in your home and misting your palm regularly.

You can’t use the same treatment for both conditions. Low humidity causes crispy leaves, while root rot generally causes drooping leaves. It’s important to know which one you’re dealing with before taking any measures that could damage or kill your Chamaedorea Elegans.

Of course, this is a generalization. For more specific details on how to identify these common Parlor Palm issues, please read ahead.

Drooping Leaves on your Parlor Palm


First, you need to identify if your Parlor Plant does, in fact, have drooping leaves. In order to do so, look for leaves that seem limp and lifeless – almost as if the plant has been underwater for too long. “Weak” is another adjective that’s often thrown around this issue. Naturally, you’ll notice that these plants seem to have a hard time standing upright, and most of their leaves barely stay open or raised above pot level. This can be very frustrating for caretakers, who may know that the key to Parlor Palms thriving is proper lighting and water, and weak-seeming leaves might be taken as a personal failure, even though it shouldn’t.

Once you’ve confirmed that your plant has drooping leaves, take a look at the leaves stems, and veins. Are they thick and chunky? If so, then your Parlor Palm could be instead suffering from crispy Leaves.

At this point, you’re likely asking yourself why the two issues get confused for one another. Though they may resemble each other at first glance, drooping leaves are caused by an entirely different problem than crispy leaves. So let’s take a look at what causes which!

Cause Drooping Leaves

Drooping leaves are a common ailment for Parlor Palms. In fact, they’re one of the most prevalent problems that caretakers report throughout forums and websites on plants in general. There’s no doubt that many people treat their plants with the products needed to alleviate crispy or curled leaves – only to find that it didn’t work with your leafy friend. As we’ve said before: knowing what is wrong with your plant is half the battle.

Now, concerning drooping leaves, as you probably know, Parlor Palms require above-average levels of humidity to stay healthy and happy. They grow best in environments with about 50% humidity. When your plant can’t meet these needs on its own – for whatever reason – it may begin drooping and appearing weak.

Additionally, drooping leaves are a common sign of under-watered plants. If you notice this problem, take some time to really check the soil and make sure that it’s moistened accordingly for your specific plant’s needs.


If your Parlor Palm is displaying drooping leaves, then you likely have root rot or humidity level issues. Make sure that you’re watering your Parlor Palm appropriately by checking the soil’s moisture – if it’s dry, be sure to test deeper. Additionally, you might want to consider making adjustments in humidity or adding a humidity tray/fan if necessary.

Humidity Levels

Remember, drooping leaves are generally a sign that there’s not enough water in its pot or surrounding soil – in short: much dryness.

To solve drooping leaves on your Parlor Palm, you must remember that these plants often require higher-than-average humidity levels. This means that a quick solution is to mist the palm a few times a week to hydrate its leaves. You can also try using a humidity tray or run an oscillating fan to help increase the air moisture in its immediate environment.

Remember though, that “adding water” isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and you’ll likely need to test the new levels of H2O you are giving your leafy friend, as you might end up overwatering it without intending to do so. In short: be cautious, methodic, and iterative.

Parlor Plants Near Heaters

A similar step would be to be aware of where your plant is located. If it is near radiators, or heaters as they can take humidity from the air and almost immediately affect your Chamaedorea Elegans.

Fortunately, a quick fix would be to move your Parlor Palm into an area with higher humidity levels, such as above a radiator or in front of a humidifier. If you don’t have any means to increase humidity, try placing gravel at the bottom of the pot before you put the soil in. Then, water it so that the water soaks through to the bottom of the pot.


A seemingly contracting cause to your Parlor Palms drooping leaves might surprisingly be overwatering. The reason for this is that too much water in the pot can cause root rot. If you have been noticing sharp drooping leaves and a shriveling trunk, this is more than likely the problem.

A simple solution for this is to allow your palm some time without any water at all (a few days on average). Then, try the “finger” method and poke the soil for a good inch (3cm approx), and make sure the soil is completely dry before you add any more water.

Crispy Leaves on your Parlor Plant

Crispy Leaves Identification

As we mentioned previously, there are several reasons for a plant to have crispy leaves. Most commonly, the cause for your Parlor Palm’s leafy friend might be over or under-watering. In any case, if you notice that your plant is having crispy or curled-up leaves, then you should consider taking out the soil and looking for root rot in its roots.

We know this is frustrating, both ailments seem to have similar causes, but as with all plant care, we recommend you try to be patient and enjoy the ride. Remember you are here to find the “real cause” of the concern, not solve superficially and end up in the same place as before.

In any case: aim to look for crispy leaves, brownish, browning, brown, or semi-burnt leaves. If you see this happening in your plant, you’ll know crispy leaves in your Chamaedorea Elegans are a good hypothesis to test.

Cause Crispy Leaves

One tall-tell sign of crispy leaves is if the veins on your leaves are pronounced and seem healthy – but if their leaves are still curling, this means that your plant is suffering from crispy leaves. Though these might seem like drooping leaves at first glance, they’re actually caused by a completely different problem.

Another cause for crispy leaves is typically the result of either too much direct sunlight or too much cold temperature for your Parlor Palm. These plants originate in rainforests and regions with high humidity – so when they face a different environment, you’ll plant will immediately feel a toll.


To solve your crispy leaves issues with your Parlor Palm, we recommend you aim to increase the overall humidity and moisture around your plant. However, there are definitely many ways to do so.

To prevent Parlor Palm from having crispy leaves, we recommend that you increase its exposure to humidity, avoid too much direct sunlight (as it’ll dry up the soil too quickly), and avoid rooms with low temperatures (and heaters) when possible.

Misting, changing up the watering schedule, finger testing, repotting, humidifiers are all your friends during this time. Regardless of what you choose to do though, make sure you test and monitor that the solutions you are giving it aren’t creating more problems than you had initially.

Other Common Problems in the Chamaedorea Elegans

Normal Aging Process

One thing to note is that plants go through a typical aging process as they grow and flourish. If you have a large palm that’s been in the family for many years, it is most likely going to start drooping and looking older. Likewise, their leaves might seem a bit crispier than usual, generally because it is sprouting other, younger, more healthy leaves at the same time.

Root Disease

However, if you have a young or relatively new palm that’s suddenly starting to have crispy leaves, it might be a warning sign of root disease. While normally plants have browning leaves as they age, an abnormal increase in these might be a sign you need to worry.

Root rot is often caused by a lack of light in the pot – so make sure your palm is in a sunny enough area, and also remember to water properly. A simple solution would be to repot or transplant your plant into a bigger pot with fresh soil. When you do so, make sure to check out its roots, smell them for any funky smells, and prune carefully those that seem too affected.

In any case, the best solution we can give you for root rot issues is to make sure your Parlor Plant is in the right-sized pot, with new soil, receiving enough sunlight, and has enough drainage capacity to avoid the issue happening again.


Another counter-intuitive reason why your Parlor Palm might be drooping or have crispy leaves is due to overfertilization. Although it is true that plants need fertilizer to grow and flourish, too much can be just as bad as not enough. If you’re using chemical fertilizers on your Parlor Palm, make sure you follow the instructions on the side of the packaging.

Also, consider the natural growth periods of your leafy friend, as slower growth periods require less fertilizer, and overfertilization can easily happen and vice versa with quicker growth periods (spring & summer).

Repotting Stress

Repotting Stress can be one of the causes for your Parlor Plant to have drooping leaves, crispy leaves or the better know brown tips. The reason for this is that, in comparison to other plants, your Parlor Palm has a relatively small root system, which can easily get stressed even if it’s re-potted in the same size of pot. If you’re not careful enough, even during the process itself you might cause some unwanted damage which can result in browning tips for your plant.

However, it’s good to remember that Parlor Palms don’t need a lot or often repotting, they will do just fine in crowded spaces or small pots. On average, once your Parlor Plant has grown matured, you can expect to keep it in the same pot for several seasons at a time.

Finally, also consider the natural growth periods of your plant’s leaves when repotting. Ensure that you don’t move them too often without giving them time to settle in properly before doing so again, as it can also be detrimental to their overall health.

Temperature Stress

As you might have imagined, many of the causes for drooping, browning or crispy leaves in your Parlor Palm are related in one way or another to temperature stress. If you suddenly expose it to too much heat you might notice some immediate effects. The same happens in low temperatures, which can be equally as detrimental for your palm’s health.

One of the main reasons why Heat Stress is such a common cause for crispy leaves and plant drooping is because those type of plants thrive in a well-lit, relatively humid natural environment. The good news is that your average Parlor Palm will thrive in your average room temperature.

This means that you only need to be careful of sudden temperature changes, such as high increases or low drops, as this will shake your Parlor Palm out of its comfort zone, and result in drooping & crispy leaves.

Pest Damage in Chamaedorea Elegans

Although less common, pests can be the cause for crispy leaves and drooping leaves in your Parlor Plant. Mealybugs and spider mites are the most common culprits.

We do want to clarify that pests will not be the only reason why your plant is wilting, but it will likely contribute to this fact. The reason for this is that pests either eat up your plants leaves, or affect its root system or soil, thus, affecting the overall health of your Parlor Plant, which can result in drooping leaves in a holistic level.

Any of these three problems may be easily solved by repotting your plant, or transplanting it into a bigger pot with fresh soil. If you notice insects, immediately treat the plant with an all-purpose pesticide (available at any garden center).

FAQ: Can I Cut Off The Brown & Crispy Tips On My Parlor Palm?

The short answer is yes. However, we recommend that you don’t do it unless necessary.

This is because crispy, drooping or browning leaves are only symptoms of what might be actually happening to your plant, and they might be good ways for your to understand what is actually causing them to droop. If you cut them off, you might assume that your plant is doing pretty well, while some unwanted situation might be going on.

In short: aim to first identify, fix and remedy the situation that is causing your brown leaves, and then you can consider cutting them off. The good news it that if you do cut these off, nothing will happen to your plant as a whole.

Cutting the brown, crispy parts of your Parlor Palm

Once you’ve decided to cut off the brown, crispy leaves of your Parlor Palm, be sure to follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands and use a pruning tool.
  • If on leaves: cut most of the brown area off, but leave a small line of brown at the end of its tip. If you cut the green part, this will cause for browning re-occurrance.
  • If entire frond: cut near the soil line, once it’s practically completely brown.

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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