How to Grow and Care for the Majestic Areca Palm

Adding an areca palm to your indoor and outdoor spaces lends them dramatic style. This stunning plant is an ideal way to add texture and height in a living room corner or frame a front door. Areca palms are popular plants, and it is not difficult to understand the reasons. They are easy to grow and the lush leaves add an instant tropical vibe to your home. 

What is an Areca Palm?

Majestic Areca PalmView in gallery

The areca palm, or Dypsis lutescens, is a tropical plant that is a native of Madagascar where it is a near threatened species. The areca palm has many common names including butterfly palm, bamboo palm, and golden feather palm.

The name “butterfly” comes from the growth pattern of the arching fronds that curve upward from the base. Common outdoor usage is an areca palm hedge to create privacy screens because of its tall dense growth similar to bamboo. The coloring of the leaves is deep green with a golden color at the base of the stems. 

According to the plant experts at the North Carolina State’s Extension Center, one of areca palm benefits is that it has been shown to reduce indoor air pollution. Because it purifies the air and makes such a magnificent display, the areca palm is one of the most popular indoor palms. 

Botanical nameDypsis lutescens
LightBright but indirect sunlight, though will tolerate more sunlight outdoors
WaterMoist but not soggy soil that is allowed to dry out between waterings
FertilizerFertilize throughout the growing season from spring to the autumn
PestsSpider mites, aphids, scale, mealybugs, white flies
DiseasesLethal yellowing, root rot, fluoride injury
SoilWell draining aerated soil 
Climate ZonesHardy in Zones 10-11
Size12-30 feet outdoors and 8 feet indoors
FoliageDeep green arching fronds that curve up from the base and hold multiple leafs
ToxicityNon-toxic for humans and animals
FlowersPale yellow flowers

Areca Palm Care Guide

Areca palms are some of the easiest to grow palm tree varieties, but they will thrive best under specific conditions. 


Light 

Areca palms are adaptable to different amounts of light, but they do not like extremes of light or shade. If you don’t provide your plants with enough light, growth is stunted. Too much light will burn the leaves. Areca palms will be happiest in an area with bright indirect sunlight and will tolerate a few hours of direct light in the morning or afternoon. 


Water 

Areca like other houseplants like Boston ferns love moist but not soggy soil. Therefore, it is important for areca palm indoors to place them in a pot with good drainage holes. 

For areca palm outdoors, make sure that water does not pool and sit around the roots of the areca plant. Use distilled or collected rain water when possible as areca palms are susceptible to fluoride build-up. Allow the soil to dry out on the top before you water the palm again. These palms are fine with occasional periods of dryness. Cut back on the amount of water during the winter to once a week or every 10 days.


Soil Conditions

Areca palms require well-draining soil that is light and aerated. This is to ensure that oxygen reaches the roots of the palm to avoid root rot. To create your own potting mix, combine one part peat, one part bark, and one part sand. Aim for a pH of 6.1-6.5. 


Atmospheric Conditions

Areca palms grow best in temperatures around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. If your climate drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis, you are not a good candidate for outdoor areca palms. 

Areca palms love high humidity. For areca palms indoors, keep the air around the palm humid by misting it on a regular basis. Also, place it on a tray with pebbles and fill it with water to keep a regular supply of humidity to your plant.


Fertilizer

The areca palm is a nutrient rich plant, so it must be fertilized to stay healthy. Fertilize your palm once each week during the growing season from spring to the early fall. Use a liquid fertilizer as these are the easiest for the palm to absorb. You can also use a slow release fertilizer once at the beginning of the spring. Stop fertilizing the plant in the late fall and do not begin again until the spring. 


Areca Palm Pests and Diseases

According to the Penn State Extension Center and as noted above, areca palms are susceptible to too much fluoride. If you are using fluoridated water, you may see brown tips or a chain of brown spots on the leaves.

Areca palms are also susceptible to root rot. If your plant does not appear to be thriving and you suspect the cause to be overwatering, remove any dead and rotting stems and repot with new potting mix. Ensure good drainage. Do not fertilize while the plant is recovering from the shock of replanting. 

Areca palms are vulnerable to common pests like spider mites, aphids, mealybug, scale, and whitefly. If you see spotting or yellowing leaves, look for signs for infestation. Clean palms with a solution of water and dish soap. Spray or wipe down your plant twice each day until you see signs that the infestation is under control.


Areca Palm Propagation 

You can propagate areca palms by root division or from seeds. 

To propagate by root division, choose a mature palm plant. Make sure the root ball is moist to ensure easier division. Unpot the palm and shake away any excess soil. Choose a few stems and with a sharp knife cut each from the parent plant. Soak the cuttings in distilled lukewarm water for 45 minutes and then place together in an appropriate potting mix. 

You can grow new areca palms with seeds, but this method is difficult. With seeds your indoor/outdoor conditions must maintain a temperature of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a high humidity for germination to be successful.


Pruning and Maintenance

Feel free to prune dead or dying fronds as this will reduce the stress of the overall plant. If your plant appears sick, cut back all the fronds until you see green. Allow it to recover from the shock by placing it in a bright area away from direct sunlight. Do not apply fertilizer or overwater. 

Areca palms do not mind being root bound, but you must give them a larger pot to ensure future growth. Repot your areca palms every 3-5 years.

Repotting will also ensure that you rid the soil or any salt build-up that can harm a healthy plant. When you re=pot, take care not to disturb the plant more than you can help.

Do not plant the root ball deep into the soil. Instead, keep the depth the same from pot to pot. After repotting, do not fertilize for at least a week to give the plant time to recover. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Are areca palm trees?

While it is common for people to use the term “palm trees”, people debate whether palms are true trees. According to the American Forests definition of trees as a woody plant with an erect stem or trunk, palms are trees. 

Where can I find areca palm for sale near me?

Areca palms are easy to find at large home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes and at larger nurseries. If you fail to find an areca palm in your area, there are numerous supplies online who can bring a palm right to your door. 

What are common areca palm benefits?

Most people love areca palms for their majestic size and style. Beyond their gorgeous look, they are counted as an indoor air purifier. 

What if my areca palm has brown tips?

Brown tips on your areca palm can be due to a number of factors. First, the humidity in your room may be too low. Increase the room’s humidity through misting or a pebble tray and see if the tips improve color. Brown tips can also mean that you are overwatering. The last cause of brown tips may be a build-up of salt on the roots. Flush the roots with water. Let the root ball dry out and then flush again. Repot in new soil. 

 How fast do areca palms grow?

A mature indoor areca palm ranges in height between 5-8 feet tall. Outdoor areca palms can reach up to 30 feet in height. They grow between 6-10 inches per year. 

Conclusion

Areca palms are a gorgeous plant that works well in both indoor and outdoor spaces. 

Because of their dramatic height and width, areca palms look stunning in the corner of a room to fill out the space with color and texture. Areca palms also make gorgeous porch or patio plants. Create a privacy screen with a group of areca palms or use them to frame your front door. Wherever you place them, areca palms are an eye-catching addition to any home decor.