Parlor Palm Sunburn (Signs, Causes & Solutions)

Learn about the signs, causes, and prevention of parlor palm sunburn. This guide will help you keep your parlor palm healthy and thriving in any lighting conditions.

Parlor Palm Sunburn (Signs, Causes & Solution)

Parlor palm is one of the most widely grown indoor palm trees in the US. And because it doesn’t need much care, it’s said to be a great houseplant for people who are just starting gardening.

Even though it is a low-maintenance houseplant, sometimes you may see some of its leaves turning brown and crispy. Do you know what that means?

Well, it means there is a high chance that your parlor palm is getting sunburned. If you don’t know what a sunburn is or what to do with a sunburnt parlor palm, this is the right place to be.

In this article, I will be going through everything you need to know regarding parlor palm sunburn, including signs, causes, triggers, solutions, and prevention methods.

So, let’s get started.

Parlor Palm Sunburn Symptoms

The most commonly seen symptoms of parlor palm sunburn are discoloration of leaves, like turning yellow or brown, crispy leaf tips, blistering on the surface of the leaf, wilting during the hottest time of the day, and very slow or stunted growth. It is important to understand and read the symptoms properly so that you can take action to prevent sunburn in the future.

1. Discoloration of Leaves

Discoloration of leaves is the number one sign of a sunburnt parlor palm. When it gets too much sunlight, the heat intensity will break down the chlorophyll (green pigment), which makes the leaves turn yellow, brown, and sometimes black in severe cases.

Discoloration of leaves can be a sign of many other plant problems, like overwatering, underwatering, fertilizer burn, etc. So, you must consider all other signs before confirming the problem as sunburn.

2. Crispy leaf tips

Similar to leaf discoloration, leaves turning crispy is another commonly seen sign of parlor palm sunburn.

When a parlor palm is exposed to intense sunlight for a long time, the leaves start to lose water through evaporation. This water loss makes the leaves dry, which eventually turns them crispy. 

This will happen alongside the discoloration. So, most of the time, the crispy edges and tips will be either yellow or brown.

Just like discoloration, crispy leaves are a sign of many parlor palm problems like lack of enough water, low humidity, etc.

3. Blistering

Blistering is usually seen in plants with broad leaves. However, I’ve seen it occasionally in parlor plants when houseplant owners ask for advice. So, it is not something we can simply neglect.

Blistering is caused by intense heat and prolonged exposure to high UV radiation. When this happens, the cells in the leaf start to expand, which causes blisters to form.

If the situation is severe, the blisters might burst, further harming the leaf. Also, blistering can spread from leaf to leaf in some cases.

4. Wilting leaves

Wilting is one of the commonly seen signs of many parlor palm problems, like underwatering, overwatering, too much light, and too little light. However, it is pretty easy to distinguish the underlying cause in this case.

If your parlor palm is wilting or drooping during the hottest time of the day, then you can be 100% sure that it is due to too much light.

When a parlor palm gets too much light, the surface temperature of the leaves triggers faster evaporation of water, thus leading to droopy or wilting leaves. If no action is taken, wilting can cause permanent damage to the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and brown and ultimately die.

5. Stunted Growth

As we’ve already seen, sunburnt parlor palms will have a lot of damaged leaves. 

And it is the leaves that generate the necessary energy for the plant to grow and survive through photosynthesis. So, when most of the leaves are damaged, the total amount of energy made is less, which makes the plant grow slower overall. At some point, the parlor palm completely stops growing.

Causes Of Parlor Palm Sunburn

The main cause of parlor palm sunburn is the plant getting too much direct sunlight. But very low humidity, dry soil, not enough water, and sudden temperature changes can all cause sunburn.

1. Too much light

From the term “sunburn,” it is pretty much understood that it is caused by sunlight. It’s not just sunlight that’s the problem; it’s too much direct sunlight.

Parlor palms thrive in the indirect light of medium intensity. The high levels of UV radiation in direct sunlight will dehydrate and burn the cells of the leaves, which causes sunburn. 

The parlor palm’s leaves are not made to withstand long periods of intense sunlight and high temperatures, which can stress and hurt the plant. Regarding temperature, we’ll get to that in another section.

2. Very low humidity

When the humidity in the surrounding area of the parlor palm is extremely low, the leaves begin to lose more water through transpiration. This results in plant dehydration and droopy leaves. Leaves that are dry and droopy aren’t healthy enough to handle even moderate light, which can cause a sunburn. 

So, even if your parlor palm is potted in a location with indirect sunlight, it can get sunburned if the environment has dry air, or in other words, very low humidity.

3. Dehydrated soil

Parlor palms are considered to be moisture-loving plants that have a very difficult time adjusting to dry soil.

People often forget that the soil in which the parlor plant is planted is an important part of growing it. They are most successful when grown in soil that is both moist and well-drained.

If the soil is too dry without water, it prevents the parlor palm from making enough energy to grow new leaves or support existing foliage. This causes the leaves to lose vigor, a compound that is responsible for their rigidity and causes the leaves to become droopy and curly.

As I already said, droopy and curly leaves are more susceptible to sunburn, even if the light is within the recommended range.

4. Temperature Stress

Temperature stress occurs in parlor palms when they are subjected to sudden, drastic temperature changes. 

Just like we humans, plants also need some time to adjust to new climatic environments. When temperatures change quickly from hot to too hot to chill, they aren’t able to adjust, which causes them to be stressed out. It is a vulnerable state in which parlor palms are susceptible to diseases and other problems.

High temperatures can cause the water to evaporate more quickly, while low temperatures will make it hard for the plant to absorb enough water from the ground. Under both of these conditions, the parlor palm does not have enough water, which can easily trigger sunburn if it is planted in a spot with partial shade or indirect sunlight.

Prevent Parlor Palm Sunburn

The best way to save and prevent sunburn on parlor palms is to relocate the plant to a shadier location and examine the symptoms in the new growth. But if the plant is already in the shade, increasing humidity or watering it more often can also protect it from sunburn and its effects.

1. Move the plant

This is a simple remedy for sunburned parlor palms. Just move it to a spot with less light, or in other words, move it to a shadier spot where they get indirect bright light for at least 6 to 8 hours a day.

Along with the light, make sure that it is positioned in a spot where the average temperature ranges from 60-750F (15-240C). Also, it’s important to keep an eye on the temperature around the plant and take action if it gets too hot or too cold.

2. Use shading cloth

If you cannot move your parlor palm to a shadier spot due to any reason, then making use of shade cloth or other temporary shading setups is a smart choice.

You can create shade just during the hottest parts of the day if you’d rather not constantly cover your plant in a blanket. 

Additionally, if you have a lot of shade-loving plants and no shade available in the yard, then try to create a pergola structure with a semi-transparent sheet cover so that it will make your yard look beautiful along with providing shade for your parlor palm.

3. Slowly introduce more light

Another way to make sure your parlor plant doesn’t burn its leaves in the sun is by slowly acclimating the plant to full sun.

The idea is to slowly introduce more light to your parlor palm until it is completely kept outside. This can be done simply by moving your palm outdoors for a while every day. Increase the amount of time it spends outside each day gradually.

You can also slowly get the plant used to more sunlight by covering it with a shade cloth. This can be done by covering the plant with shade cloth for a while and then slowly taking it off over a few weeks, giving the plant time to get used to more sunlight.

At some point, it will have the immunity to survive in full sunlight. This is not a foolproof way, but it still works if you live in a region where the intense sun is present only for a very few hours a day.

4. Ensure proper humidity

If your parlor palm sunburn is due to low humidity, then increasing the humidity is the only way to fix the problem. 

Parlor palm thrives when the humidity is more than 60%. For indoor parlor palms, you can try to use a humidifier to increase the humidity. However, fixing humidity is not that straightforward when it comes to outdoor gardening.

If your parlor palm is kept outdoors, then you can try steps like using a humidity tray, misting, grouping similar plants, etc. to improve the humidity.

5. Water adequately

If you’ve read the symptoms of parlor palm sunburn, the majority of them relate to not enough water being available for the plant.

Parlor palms prefer well-drained soil with plenty of moisture. It is recommended that they be watered before the topsoil dries out. Also, if you keep the plant outside in the sun, you should water it more often and thoroughly.

Parlor Palm Sunburn: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Parlor palm sunburn is one of the topics that have a lot of questions asked in multiple forums, yet no authoritative answers are available. I will be answering some of those questions in this section.

Can parlor palms get too much light?

The parlor palms can get too much light if they are planted in full sun. They prefer bright, indirect light. Too much sun exposure for even a couple of weeks can scorch their leaves and stunt their overall growth.

Can sunburned parlor palm leaves turn back to green?

Sunburnt parlor palm leaves will never turn green under any circumstances. It’s not just for parlor palms; damaged leaves on no plant can turn back to an undamaged state unless it is a treatable disease.

Can a parlor palm recover from sunburn?

Depending on the severity of the sunburn, parlor palms may or may not recover. If the damage is only to the leaves, moving the plant to a shadier location and providing enough water and humidity will make the plant healthy again. However, if the sunburn has caused damage to the stem of your parlor palm, then recovery is doubtful.

How do you prevent parlor palms from getting sunburned?

To recover parlor palms from sunburn, there are quite a few steps you can take, including moving the palm to a shadier spot, using proper watering and well-drained soil, moving it away from reflected heat sources, using shading cloths, etc.


If you are a beginner houseplant owner, seeing your parlor palm wilt and turn brown is not a happy sight. 

However, all hope is not lost. You can analyze the signs and see what went wrong. The majority of the time, your parlor palm will be in a recoverable stage, and all you have to do is make some minor adjustments to its environment and care routine.

Divider In Leaf Design


To back up the information we provide in our articles, the Plantials team only uses high-quality sources published in peer-reviewed university or scientific research journals.

  1. Palm Nutrition and Fertilization, American Society For Horticultural Science.
  2. Intelligent Environment Monitoring and Control System for Plant Growth, International Conference on Mobile Ad-Hoc and Sensor Networks.
  3. Indoor Plant Culture, Virginia Cooperative Extension.
  4. Foliage Plants Care, Postharvest Biotechnology of Flowers and Ornamental Plants.

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