Areca Palm – Care, Growing, Watering, Propagation, Diseases

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Showing a striking resemblance to bamboo, the Areca palm is a tall and clumping palm that’s native to Madagascar and South India.

While the Areca palm is a sun-loving plant that won’t adapt to low light conditions, making it a debatable choice for an indoor houseplant.

However, if you can offer this plant good lighting and you don’t mind dealing with a few plant sensitivity issues, the Areca palm will add a little exotic vibe to your indoor spaces.

The plant care guide I put together below is a helpful primer on the Areca Palm that will help you take good care of this plant, even indoors.

Areca Palm Plant Care Tips

Successfully growing an Areca palm indoors is fraught with difficulties. Especially if you’re aiming to have this plant around for a long time.

Fertilizing issues and light insufficiency issues are the primary areas of concern. The tips below will help you overcome these issues and help you keep this plant around for their full lifespan of about 10 years.

Plant Size

At its mature height, the areca palm can reach 6-7 feet, with a growth rate of around 6-10 inches per year.

Clearly, a plant this big won’t be suitable for indoor spaces, but luckily, the Areca palm tolerates trimming without any major downsides.

Light Requirements

Your best bet in offering this plant plenty of sunlight is to place it near a south-facing window or west-facing one.

Some direct sunlight can be beneficial in prolonging the lifespan of your areca palm, but you should go for moderate exposure.

Too much direct sunlight should be avoided as it can cause leaf damage, causing them to turn yellow.

Soil

The soil of areca palm should offer good drainage. Use a peat based potting mix and amend it with some perlite to offer improved drainage.

If the soil becomes waterlogged and takes a long time to dry out, the roots of the areca palm will begin to rot.

Watering

Water your areca palm thoroughly but allow the soil to dry before you water it again. Overwatering is something that the areca palm does not handle well, so you must avoid frequent watering.

The plant is sensitive to fluoride and chlorine in water. If your tap water is not fluoridated, simply let tap water sit overnight to allow chlorine to evaporate, and then water your plant.

If fluoride is an issue, switch to rainwater or use a fluoride tap water filter.

Temperature & Humidity

The Areca palm will be comfortable in temperatures of 65 to 75 °F. You can keep this plant outside during summer but move it back inside when the weather turns cold and temperatures dip close to 50 F.

Not only that the areca palm is not tolerant of cold temperatures, it’s also sensitive to cold drafts, air-conditioned spaces, heating vents, and other direct sources of cold or heat.

As far as humidity levels are concerned, the areca palm thrives in a humid environment, but it’s adaptable to normal humidity levels.

One sign that the plant is not doing well in low humidity is that the tips of leaves will start to brown.

Fertilizing

Areca palms are relatively heavy feeders, but they’re also sensitive to salt deposits that build up in the soil because of the fertilizer.

Your best choice is to use a slow-release fertilizer that will offer the plant all the nutrients it needs during the spring. Don’t fertilize in the fall or winter.

Spraying the fronds with a diluted liquid houseplant fertilizer that’s suitable for foliar feeding will also benefit the plant. Switch to this method in the summer.

Potting & Repotting

The areca palm doesn’t mind sitting in a slightly undersized pot. This will also prevent the plant from overgrowing, so it’s a win-win.

But every 2-3 years, it’s advisable to transfer the plant to a new pot, mainly to refresh its soil and prevent the toxicity caused by fertilizer salt build-ups.

When repotting, don’t attempt to spread out the roots. They’re brittle and get damaged too easily.

Burying the plant too deep is also harmful for the roots, so try to keep it at the same depth as it was originally.

Because there are many points of failure when caring for an areca palm, the plant may not live long enough to require multiple transfers, especially if you’re not a seasoned grower.

Areca Palm Plant Propagation

Areca palms are most often propagated via seeds. But since seeds of this palm are hard to come by and germination takes a while, using offshoots is a better way to achieve the same goal.

If your areca palm produces offshoots, you can harvest them by keeping their roots intact and transferring them to another pot.

If you attempt to propagate from stem cutting, even if you dip it into rooting hormone, you’ll be met with disappointment — areca palms cannot be propagated through this means.

Different types or Areca Palm

There aren’t areca palm varieties or cultivars to choose from, but there are many types of palm trees that show a striking resemblance to this plant.

Here are some options:

Cat Palm

The cat palm is very similar to the areca palm, except it grows smaller, leaf stems are green, while those of the areca are yellow.

Triangle Palm

The most immediate difference between this palm and the areca is that the triangle palm has fronds that grow arranged in the shape of a triangle.

Betel Nut Palm

With a slender bark and edible leaves, this palm produces nuts that are harvested and processed. This is a sun-loving palm that requires 4-5 hours of direct sun exposure.

While these palms are related to the Areca, they’re distinct species with different growth patterns and keeping requirements. They’re also rarely found outside their native habitat and aren’t usually kept indoors.

Areca Palm FAQs

The FAQ below will help you navigate some of the issues that you might come across while growing an areca palm in your home.

Why are the Leaves of my Areca Palm Turning Brown?

Browning leaves and leaf tips can be a sign of a variety of plant husbandry issues. Chief among these issues is watering related issues. Both overwatering and underwatering can elicit brown leaf tips and cause browning leaves.

Apart from watering, water quality related issues can also cause the leaves to turn brown. Chlorinated water and fluoridated water can both have a negative impact on the health of your areca palm.

Overfertilizing that causes mineral salt build-up in the soil will cause toxicity issues that can lead to leaves turning brown, which is also known as fertilizer burn.

Other than these, low humidity, insufficient light, and unnecessary repotting can all trigger this issue.

Since there are so many potential causes of areca leaves turning brown, you must take a holistic approach and re-examine your plant care habits to see if there’s anything you might have missed.

Is the Areca Palm Toxic to Pets?

No, according to the ASPCA website, the areca palm is not toxic to pets, therefore, it’s a plant you can safely keep around your fur babies.

Why are the Leaves of my Areca Palm Turning Yellow?

Leaves turning yellow can signal watering issues and fertilizing issues. Leaves of the areca palm will usually turn yellow if the plant is not getting enough water. If the leaves are turning yellow only in small spots, it could be because of a potassium deficiency or a soil acidity issue.

Start watering your areca palm more often, without overwatering it, and switch fertilizers or adjust its levels. Repotting the areca palm can also help.

Is the Areca Palm Prone to Diseases and Pests?

The areca plant can be a little sensitive to several things, as I explained above. Insufficient lighting is a big problem indoors, but so are watering issues, lack of humidity, and fertilizing.

Overwatering your areca plant will always lead to root rot, so that should be one of the top issues to avoid in caring for this plant.

Pests can also affect the plant, especially mealybugs, scale, spider mites and whiteflies. Spider mites can be eliminated by putting the plant under a strong jet of water, using neem oil or insecticidal spray.

Scales can be controlled by removing infested leaves and introducing natural predators such as ladybugs or lacewings.

Wiping with rubbing alcohol works best for mealybugs, while whiteflies can be washed away with a strong stream of water.

Conclusion

The areca palm can seem like a fussy plant in the hands of an inexperienced gardener, but as many other houseplants, it has well-defined keeping requirements that you must follow to avoid potential problems.

This plant simply does not tolerate neglect of any kind, so make sure you know how to care for it if you want to have a healthy areca palm that will stay around for the entire length of its lifespan.

Because of high light requirements and intolerance of low humidity, it can be tricky to keep this plant indoors, but if your home gets a lot of natural light and you can manage humidity levels, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try keeping this plant indoors.

Updated: June 15, 2020

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