Frizzle Top On Palms: Information And Tips For Frizzle Top Treatment

Frizzle Top On Palms: Information And Tips For Frizzle Top Treatment

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Frizzle top is both the description and name of a common palm problem. Keep reading to discover exactly what is frizzle top on palm trees and how to treat it.

What is Frizzle Top?

What is frizzle top? It is a disease of palm trees, which is caused by manganese deficiency. Frizzle top on palm trees is most common on Queen and Royal palms, but other species, including sagos, may also be affected. Coconut palms exhibit problems after periods of cold. Cold temperatures minimize the effectiveness of roots to draw manganese into the tree’s vascular system. Early diagnosis will enhance frizzle top treatment to preserve the plant’s health. The symptoms are most obvious in winter and spring, because the roots are not as active. This prevents the plant from gathering maximum nutrients, including any available manganese.

Palm Frizzle Top Symptoms

Palm fronds will exhibit dry, withered leaves. Areas where the soil has a high pH are most likely to have palms with crispy fronds. At its earliest appearance, frizzle top will attack the young leaves as they emerge. Any new growth that does occur is limited to stubby petioles that do not grow terminal leaf tips. The disease causes yellow streaking and weak growth. Leaves on palms get necrotic streaking which affects all parts of the leaves except the base. Overall, the leaves will become yellow and tips fall off. The entire frond is eventually affected and will distort and curl. In some species, the leaf tips fall off and leave the plant looking scorched. Frizzle top on palm trees will eventually cause the death of the tree if left unchecked.

Preventing Frizzle Top

One way of preventing frizzle top is to use a soil test kit prior to planting any new palm trees. This can help you gauge if there is adequate manganese in your soil. Alkaline soils are most likely to have low available levels of the nutrient. Creating a more acidic site by adding sulfur to the soil is a first step in preventing frizzle top. Apply 1 pound (455 g.) of Manganese Sulfate every September to prevent problems in your palm tree.

Frizzle Top Treatment

A consistent fertilizing program is the best way to minimize palm frizzle top symptoms. Use a water-soluble form of manganese fertilizer as a foliar drench. Apply it according to the instructions every three months. Average application rates are 3 pounds (1.5 kg.) per 100 gallons (380 L.) of water. This short-term “cure” will help keep new emerging leaves green. A program of manganese-rich soil fertilizer will help in the long term.

Keep in mind that visual improvement will be slow. Fronds already damaged by palm frizzle top will not turn green again and need to be replaced by healthy foliage. This renewal could take several years, but if you are faithful to a manganese fertilizer schedule, the recovery will take place and ensure a healthy landscape tree.

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"Frizzletop" is a dieback disease that affects the pinnae on Cycas revoluta plants.


"Frizzletop" occurs in C. revoluta plants primarily because of the absence of (or an insufficient amount of) manganese in the soil.

"Frizzletop" is caused by an excess of lime, resulting in alkaline soil surrounding the affected plant as a consequence of which manganese is not available to the plant. (Note: Manganese is important to healthy plant growth as it is needed to provide proteins).

"Frizzletop" often occurs in advanced C. revolutas planted in new housing estates, where concrete usage is common and building rubble is used for fill " thus resulting in an excess of lime in the soil in garden beds.

To restore the plant to normal, it is necessary to increase the acidity of the soil by making manganese available to the affected plant, through the application of Manganese Sulphate.

The application of Manganese Sulphate has a twofold effect:

  1. by supplying manganese for the plant, and
  2. by providing sulphur to make the soil more acidic.

Suggested Treatment:

Application, by watering-can, of Manganese Sulphate, combined with an accompanying application of a liquid fertiliser (e.g. Nitrosol). Liquid fertiliser is used as a means of assisting the plant to absorb the Manganese Sulphate.

The Manganese Sulphate/liquid fertiliser solution should be watered on to the fronds, the trunk (if applicable) and, also, on the soil immediately adjacent to the plant.

The application of Manganese Sulphate generally should not exceed the manufacturer"s recommendations. One manufacturer"s suggested treatment is to dissolve 10 grams of Manganese Sulphate in 10 litres of water however, in serious cases of "frizzletop" with mature/trunked plants, it may be advisable to apply up to 20-30 litres of the manufacturer"s suggested mixture, plus a proportionate amount of liquid fertiliser.

Treatment is recommended as soon as the problem of "frizzletop" is noticed. The treatment should be carried out on a seasonal basis after the onset of "frizzletop" is identified, but not during winter. Treatment is suggested in early autumn, early spring and early summer - and such treatment, over a 12 month period, should correct the manganese deficiency.

Once a healthy set of fronds is produced, the cure should be permanent - but to ensure its continued health, the plant should be fertilised periodically with a slow release fertilizer, so as to ensure that a sufficient level of available manganese is maintained.

It is extremely important that the unsightly fronds are left on the plant during treatment, so that they assist in the absorption of the applied solution of Manganese Sulphate/liquid fertiliser by the affected plant.

How to Care for a Queen Palm Tree

The queen palm tree (Syagrus romanzoffiana) is a low-maintenance palm that grows up to 50 feet tall and 25 feet wide. The Queen palm’s leaves can grow 18 to 36 inches long. Native to Brazilian and Argentinian forests, the queen palm tree grows best in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, which are the subtropical and tropical zones where minimum annual temperatures don’t dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. You should plant your queen palm in full sunlight and in well-draining, slightly acidic soils.

Feed your queen palm tree a well-balanced palm fertilizer that contains manganese two to three times each year, in the early spring, in midsummer and again in the fall. Insert palm fertilizer spikes 2 to 4 inches below the soil surface about 1 ½ to 2 feet out from the trunk.

Water your queen palm three times each week during the first summer after planting it and twice each week during the first winter. Water the palm tree deeply to moisten the soil down to the root ball and to a depth of 6 inches in the surrounding soil.

  • The queen palm tree (Syagrus romanzoffiana) is a low-maintenance palm that grows up to 50 feet tall and 25 feet wide.

Keep the soil around your queen palm acidic. If you have persistently alkaline soil, apply a soil acidifier or mix a solution of 1 cup muriatic acid with 5 gallons of water. Pour the water around the entire root ball area.

Watch out for the palm-leaf skeletonizer infesting your queen palm tree, which is a moth with larvae that feed on the palm fronds. Prune away and discard the infested palm leaves in a sealed plastic bag. Spray the larvae and their tubes off the palm leaves with a high-pressure hose.

Treat your queen palm for frizzle top, which is a common manganese deficiency that causes the new leaves to look tattered or frizzled. Treat frizzle top by feeding your queen palm an extra dose of manganese.

  • Keep the soil around your queen palm acidic.
  • Watch out for the palm-leaf skeletonizer infesting your queen palm tree, which is a moth with larvae that feed on the palm fronds.

You can treat frizzle top by inserting manganese fertilizer spikes into the ground beside the queen palm or by spreading powdered manganese sulfate around the trunk.

Protect your queen palm from becoming burned by the acid treatment. Water the queen palm deeply about 24 hours prior to the applying the muriatic acid solution.

Palm Trees – Part 2
The Power of Trees – Part 1

Palms are beautiful but messy, so be prepared for a lot of maintenance

The grandiosity and majestic appearance of Palm trees are what makes them popular and adored by many people, not to mention their ability to endure drought. They can enhance and liven up the look of a landscape. Nevertheless, just like other plants and trees, if Palms are not taken care of, they can get messy and unappealing. Palm trees need regular maintenance to keep them healthy and appealing.

Huge Palms can create troubles and inconveniences, particularly when falling palm fronds or berries block pool filters or gutters and create a mess on driveways and pavements. Falling fronds could be a hazard to both people and property as well. In addition to keeping the area around a Palm tree cleared of debris, there are ways to maintain your palms and prevent them from getting disease or insect damage.

The Sabal Palm is the most common among the many varieties of Palm trees in Florida and most of them grow with few problems. However, the Sabal Palm is quite vulnerable to weevils that strike the Palm bud where new fronds originate. Weevils are actually beetles that are attracted to distressed Palms due to lack of nutrients and/or Palms that have just been transported so their roots have not yet adjusted to their new terrain. Weevils commonly lay their eggs at the frond’s base and when the eggs hatch, they make their way into the Palm and eventually destroy the tree. When you suspect weevils are killing your Palms, it is best to hire a pest control company or a lawn care service to spray your tree.

You should keep your Palm trees from having a nutrient deficiency. Although this is not common, do your best to correct this early on. If you have a Cycad or Queen Palm see to it that you take care of the new fronds coming out of the tree top. If the fronds appear yellowish and crinkled, this problem is known as “Frizzle Top”. It is a condition that is caused by manganese deficiency in most species of Palm trees, but the most affected are Royal, Queen, Paurotis, and Cycad Palms. In order to correct this problem, apply 3 to 5 pounds of Palm tree fertilizer containing manganese around the base of the Palm. Make sure to use a hand held spreader instead of just using your hands. Distance yourself for at least 2 feet from the trunk when spreading the fertilizer. Re-apply every 3 months. It may take 3 to 4 months before the Palm reacts to the nutrients.

There are palms that develop splits or cracks on their trunks. For some Palm trees this is just a normal occurrence, however, it can also be an indication of lack of water or too much water. In order to regulate this occurrence, an adequate amount of water should be maintained at all times on your Palms, by way of hand watering or via an irrigation system. Filling the cracks is not needed, but if the cracks are deep enough, you can spray the tree trunk with copper to minimize the prevalence of fungus.

These are just some of the problems encountered with Palm trees. They are easy to care for as long as you know what to do and what to look for, in identifying a certain problem. Doing the proper maintenance is what keeps them healthy, attractive, and mess-free. For expert advice, it is best to hire a professional lawn care service company to assist you in proper maintenance of your Palm trees.

Frizzle Top in Sago Palms

Frizzle top is a condition in palm trees as well as Sago palms that causes newly emerged leaves to become yellowed, frizzled and distorted. The condition is caused by a deficiency in Manganese (Mn), a micronutrient needed by Sago’s.

PH and Mn in Sago Palms

The optimal pH for Sago’s is 6.0-6.5.. The optimal tissue analysis for Mn in Sago’s is 50-250 ppm. For every one point increase in pH, the availability of Mn decreases 100 times. In other words, Mn is 100 times more available in a 6.5 pH than a 7.5 pH. The Sago pictured on the left has a 7.5 pH and less than lOppm Mn.

Fertilizer Program to Prevent Frizzle Top in Sago’s

To remedy manganese deficiencies, spray leaves with a solution of 1 tsp/gallon of water monthly for three months. Have a soil analysis performed in the root zone around problem Sago’s to analyze pH. Fertilize Sago’s with 1.0 pound of palm fertilizer in April and September. Soils with a pH higher than 6.5 or with a history of frizzle top problems, should be fertilized with 1 to 5 pounds (depending on size) of Manganese Sulfate in September. Apply 1 pound of Manganese Sulfate each September to prevent problems.

If lower leaves show an unusual amount of yellowing, add 1 pound of Magnesium Sulfate in June. Apply all fertilizers in a 100 square foot area around the plant. Most of the root mass in Sago palms is near the trunk with some roots extending to the edge of the leaves. If the pH was in a normal range the Sago may have problems other than frizzle top. Refer to previous fact sheet for other Sago problems.

Watch the video: Queen Palms 101 Syagrus Romanzoffiana. Earth Works Jax