If you’ve been considering smaller palm to decorate your apartment or house, you must have stumbled upon Parlor Palm. I have a friend who works in a big gardening store, and he said that it is consistently one of the best-selling palms all year round. They are very popular.
It for sure has something to do with how easy is to care for them. Parlor Palm is beginner friendly palm that can tolerate most types of indirect light and will forgive you a few mistakes.
While they are low-maintenance and really forgiving, even Parlor Palm can run into issues. In this article, I will focus on one such issue, and that’s Parlor Palm turning white.
Why Is My Parlor Palm Turning White?
If you’ve noticed your Parlor Palm creating a few pale, white spots, usually starting from the tips of leaves, it’s definitely not the end of the world and, hopefully, not the end of your palm either.
There are a few common issues that may be going on in the background. The most common issue is sunlight deficiency, that’s also the easiest to fix. But it can also be caused by some unpleasant bug or build-up of lime or calcium from watering with hard water. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Your Parlor Palm is not Getting Enough Sunlight
Parlor Palm originates from the lush rainforests of Central America, including countries such as Mexico and Guatemala. These regions provide the ideal conditions for the Parlor Palm to thrive, with their warm climates, ample rainfall, and rich biodiversity.
In their natural habitat, these palms, scientifically known as Chamaedorea elegans, can be found hiding beneath taller trees. So they naturally adapted to lower light levels, which especially makes them well-suited for growing indoors.
But you should not confuse lower light levels of rainforests with the sun shining directly overhead for multiple hours a day with your palm being stationed in a dimly lit corner.
These plants love bright, indirect sunlight. On the other hand, too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause irreversible damage, and too little can result in pale, lackluster foliage.
Look for a spot near a window where your palm can bask in filtered sunlight. East or north-facing windows are often excellent choices, as they provide gentle morning or indirect light throughout the day.
Unfortunately, once the sun has caused white spots or patches on your Parlor Palm’s leaves, those areas will likely remain discolored. However, good lighting conditions are great for the growth of new leaves and the overall health of the plant.
Your Parlor Palm is Infested
Those tiny intruders can really ruin everything and turn your Parlor Palm’s leaves into a canvas of white speckles.
When insect pests decide to make your Parlor Palm their cozy home, they often leave behind telltale signs of their presence. As they feed on the plant’s sap or tissues, they cause damage, which manifests as white spots or speckles on the leaves.
Spider mites, for instance, are minuscule arachnids that can spin fine webs and create a white, dusty appearance on your palm’s foliage. Mealybugs, on the other hand, are tiny, soft-bodied insects covered in a powdery, white wax. Their feeding activity can cause localized white patches on the leaves.
The discoloration or web-covered leaves are, of course, not the biggest issue. They can weaken the plant and hinder its growth.
You should keep a watchful eye on your palm’s foliage. If you discover an insect infestation in its earlier, physically removing the pests with a damp cloth may be enough, For more severe cases, consider using an insecticide.
Using a chemical insecticide may not be the greatest option for the plant’s overall health. That’s also why a took a look at some of the best non-lethal pests solutions and curated them into a list. Check that out if you want to relieve your palm a little more naturally.
Lime or Calcium Build-up from Hard Water
Hard water, which contains higher levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, can leave behind deposits as it evaporates or gets absorbed by the plant’s tissues. Over time, these mineral deposits can accumulate on the leaves, resulting in the formation of those troublesome white spots on your Parlor Palm.
Why spots caused by calcium or lime are not dangerous, but it can turn whole leaves into this snow-white color, which can be very unpleasant to look at.
To address this issue, it’s essential to be mindful of the water quality you use for your Parlor Palm. Consider using filtered or distilled water, which has reduced mineral content. If you have access, you can even collect rainwater and water even your indoor plants with it. As a last resort, if you don’t have continuous access to filtered, distilled, or rainwater, you can leave the tap water out overnight and hope its minerality will come down.
Additionally, periodically wiping the leaves with a damp cloth or sponge can help remove existing mineral deposits. But for that, you should really use mineral-free water. In this case, you are placing the lime or calcium and other minerals directly on the surface of the leaves.
You can ultimately make a homemade leaf shine to retrieve the natural vibrant green coloration. You can find two of my favorite “recipes” in the article about How to Clean Leaves and Make them shine again.
Variegated Parlor Palms
Additionally, what needs to be addressed is variegation. Parlor Palms are quite often variegated, which means that they often create patches, stripes, or streaks of lighter or darker shades of green, yellow, cream, or even white.
In this case, it’s not caused by any external influence. It’s just a genetic mutation that affects the production or distribution of pigments in the leaves. They need to be cared for in the same way as a “standard” palm, but they bring a sense of uniqueness and visual interest to the Parlor Palm family.
Differentiating between white spots caused by insufficient sun, pest infestation, or calcium build-up and variegation isn’t too difficult.
White spots caused by external influences will often appear as random, irregular patches or speckles on the leaves. In contrast, variegation is more consistent and patterned. They also tend to stay relatively stable and consistent, as it is a natural and inherent feature of the plant’s leaves.
Your Parlor Palm turning white is most likely caused by sunlight deficiency, insect infestation, or it’s just lime or other minerals building up on the surface of the leaves.
I would take the sunlight issue as your starting point (because, from my experience, that’s mostly the case). Don’t forget to provide your palm with bright but indirect light.
If that’s not where the issue springs, focus on pests, and finally, you can use filtered water to water your plants.