About an Areca Palm
An Areca palm, Dypsis lutescens, is part of the Arecaceae family (also known as Palmae). Sold both as a large, fast-growing outdoor plant for warm climates and an inexpensive, large indoor plant, the Areca palm is native to Madagascar. It can now be found growing in tropical and sub-tropical regions such as Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Hawaii. As an outdoor plant, the fronds of an Areca palm can be 6ft-7ft long (2-3m) and the height of the plant as tall as 20-40ft (2m-12m). In nature, it produces yellow flowers during the summer months, but rarely blooms as a houseplant
An Areca palm is a type of cane palm. When grown indoors, an immature Areca palm can be small enough to sit on a table or desk. However, as the plant matures, it quickly develops into a medium sized, exotic looking palm that can reach a height of 6-8 feet. An Areca palm gets its nickname, the “Butterfly Palm” because of the way its long, feathery fronds (leaves) arch upwards off multiple reed- like stems, resembling butterfly wings. Each frond has between 40-60 leaflets and may be as tall as 3ft.
Quick Care Tips for an Areca Palm
Provide bright, indirect light
Keep the soil barely moist
Do not over fertilize
Temperatures below 50°F (10°C) can damage the leaves
Never remove the growing point at the end of a stem or the entire frond may die
High humidity helps the plant look better and grow faster
An Areca Palm is a very popular indoor plant. It’s is an excellent “clean air”plant that rids the air of harmful pollutants and safe to have around pets and small children. However, the appearance of the plant deteriorates without the proper light, water quality, and humidity. Follow the care tips below and your Areca Palm should stay looking good for may years.
How much light for an Areca Palm: Bright indirect light; too much light or direct sun burns the fronds and causes them to turn yellow.
How to water an Areca Palm: Keep the soil barely moist but never soggy. Allow the top few inches of the soil to dry out before watering. Remember, the soil at the bottom of the container is wetter than the soil at the top. Never allow an Areca Palm to sit in the excess water that drains out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot. If your household water has a lot of chemicals in it or passes through a water softener, allow the water to sit out over-night before using it, or use distilled water or rain water. Water containing chemicals or salt may cause ugly spots on the leaves. A Areca palm develops yellow leaves if the soil gets too dry.
How to fertilize an Areca Palm: Feed monthly when the plant is actively growing with a balanced, liquid fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Too much fertilizer damages the leaves.
Best temperature for an Areca Palm: 65F°-75F° (18.3°C-23.9°) during the day and around 55°F (12.8°C) at night. Areca palms are very sensitive to low temperatures so if you place it outside during the summer be sure to bring it in before temperatures dip below 50°F (10°C).
Humidity for an Areca Palm: High humidity is essential to keep the fronds looking good and prevent them from turning brown. Interestingly, you should not cut off brown tips due to dry air that may develop on the leaves, doing so slows down the growth of the plant.
Does an Areca Palm flower: When grown outdoors, the plant may produce bunches of yellow flowers. An indoor Areca palm rarely blooms.
Areca Palm plant pests: Spider mites and mealy bugs can be a problem. Check frequently for plant pests by examining the backs of the fronds and new growth. If your Areca palm has an insect problem, spray the fronds with warm soapy water or an insecticidal soap; dilute the insecticidal soap to 1/2 the recommended strength. Never use a commercial insecticide; it will severely damage the fronds of a palm.
Areca Palm plant diseases: Because the plant prefers high humidity, an Areca Palm is susceptible to fungus infections. Diseases can develop in moist soil and cause the fronds in the crown (top) of the palm to turn brown and droop; or, they may cause lower fronds to droop and turn yellow. Providing good air circulation helps prevent fungus infections.
Best soil for an Areca Palm: Use a rich acidic soil that drains well. Add some builder’s sand to your potting mix if the soil seems too heavy or clay- like.
What size pot for an Areca Palm: This plant likes to be a little root-bound, so don’t rush to repot. When the roots have filled the current container, it’s time to move an Areca Palm to the next size pot and nothing larger. There must always be drip holes in the bottom of the pot.
How to prune an Areca Palm: Remove any brown or yellow fronds at the base of the stem near the soil line. Do not try to trim the brown tips at the ends of a frond. When you trim a leaf, it slows down growth and may actually even kill the leaf. The only growing points on an Areca Palm are at the ends of the stems. If you cut the growing tip off or if it is damaged in any way, the plant stops growing.
How to propagate an Areca Palm: The best way to propagate the plant is by using the “offsets “or “suckers” that grow around the base of a mature palm. Plant division is another good propagation technique. You can read more about both of these propagation methods in the Glossary of the website.
Clean Air Plant
An Areca Palm is a “clean air” plant that is effective in removing benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air.
Poisonous Plant Info
An Areca Palm is non-poisonous plant and safe to have around cats, dogs, or small children.
Your Areca must have gotten very dry while you were gone. Cut off the discolored fronds and water well. Add a few drops of superthrive to the water for an extra little boost.
The tips of the fronds turn brown when the plant is over watered, when it is over fertilized, or if there is salt, chlorine, or fluoride in the water. Allow the top 1-2″ of soil to dry out before watering and use distilled water if your water passes through a softener or has any chemicals in it.
The webbing is from the spider mites attacking your palm. If you don’t get rid of them, they will suck the color out of your plant leaving unsightly yellow blotches. Spray your plant with a good insecticidal soap at 1/2 the recommended strength. Be sure to treat both sides of the fronds and all of the stems.