How to grow areca palm?


Growing Areca Palm: Care Of Areca Palms Indoors

Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) is one of the most widely used palms for bright interiors. It features feathery, arching fronds, each with up to 100 leaflets. These big, bold plants command attention.

Keep reading to find out more about growing areca palm in the home.

Areca Palm Houseplant Info

A full-grown areca palm houseplant is quite expensive, so they are usually purchased as small, tabletop plants. They add 6 to 10 inches of growth per year until they reach a mature height of 6 or 7 feet. Areca palm is one of the few palms that can tolerate trimming without serious harm, making it possible to keep mature plants indoors for their full lifespan of up to 10 years.

A key factor in successfully growing areca palm trees indoors is providing just the right amount of light. They need bright, indirect light from a south- or west-facing window. The leaves turn yellowish-green in direct sunlight.

Areca Palm Care

The care of

areca palms indoors isn’t difficult, but the plant won’t tolerate neglect. Water them often enough to keep the soil lightly moist in spring and summer, and allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings in fall and winter.

Fertilize areca palm plants with a time-release fertilizer in spring. This gives the plant most of the nutrients it needs for the entire season. The fronds benefit from a micronutrient spray in summer. You can use a liquid houseplant fertilizer that contains micronutrients for this purpose. Make sure the product is labeled as safe for foliar feedings, and dilute it according to the label instructions. Do not feed areca palm plants in fall and winter.

Areca palm houseplants need repotting every two to three years. The plant likes a tight container, and crowded roots help limit the size of the plant. The main reasons for repotting is to replace the aged potting soil and remove fertilizer salt deposits that build up in the soil and on the sides of the pot. Use a palm potting soil or a general purpose mix amended with a handful of clean builder’s sand.

Take care to plant the palm in the new pot at the same depth as in the old pot. Planting it too deeply can cause serious injury. The roots are brittle, so don’t attempt to spread them out. After filling in around the roots with soil, press down with your hands to make sure the soil is tightly packed. Eliminate air pockets by flooding the pot with water and pressing down again. Add additional soil if necessary.

Now that you know how easy areca palm care is, why not head out to the local nursery or garden center and pick up one of your own. Growing areca palm trees indoors will be well worth the trip with all that lush, beautiful foliage to brighten up the home.

Areca Palm

Chrysalidocarpus lutescens/
Dypsis lutescens

Not just another pretty face, the dramatic areca palm can do double duty as a spectacular tropical privacy screen.

The soft, fine-textured fronds of a “Butterfly Palm” – as it’s sometimes called – are full and dense.

This makes it a favorite for privacy, accents and garden backdrops in many South Florida home landscapes.

You can leave the palm fluffy and full to the ground, or thin it out to see more of the trunks.

Either way, this palm makes a great addition to most landscaping as long as it’s well placed for its ultimate size.

Arecas are said to be deer resistant, though we make no promises.

Plant specs

Areca palms are slow to moderate growers for sun or shade and can reach heights of 15 to 20 feet.

They’re wider at the top – sometimes 8 to 10 feet or more in diameter – so allow enough room for the palm to grow a tropical canopy over nearby plants.

Zone 10 is best, though in warmer areas of Zone 9B that border 10A, you can use an areca in a protected spot.

You may see leaf tip burn after most winters, even in Zone 10. (See Plant Care below for trimming info.)

This palm is moderately salt-tolerant.

Arecas are clustering palms…meaning a multitude of trunks spring up from the base of the plant, giving it a lush full look.

Trunks on the same plant can vary in size from pencil thin to thick as a person’s arm, especially as the areca matures.

Plant care

Though these palms are considered self-cleaning, you’ll probably want to trim off yellowed or browned fronds occasionally.

After winter’s chill, the tips of the fronds may be browned.

You can go along and shear off just the brown tips, a tedious task but sometimes worth the work involved.

Leaf tip burn (the browned tips) can also occur when the palm goes too dry – regular water is necessary, though an areca doesn’t like overly wet conditions.

You can plant a little on the high side to encourage good drainage.

Leaving the fronds to brown and fall off on their own is better for the health of the palm. If used as a backdrop specimen any discolored fronds will be much less noticeable.

Fertilize at least three times a year – in spring, summer and fall – with a granular palm fertilizer containing micronutrients.

Arecas love being “fed”…especially those in shade…and will reward you with gorgeous tropical greenery.

Plant with organic peat moss or top soil added to the hole.

Plant spacing

For a hedge-type planting, position arecas 3 to 6 feet apart.

For a corner-of-the-house specimen, plant at least 4 feet away from the structure, making sure the palm won’t eventually grow into eaves, gutters or roof lines.

You can clean up the trunks to allow more space to walk by them, as shown in the photo above.

An areca palm makes a stunning pool cage specimen, and can be grown in a container as well. Eventually it will outgrow a pot and need a larger one or go into the ground.

Landscape uses for areca palm

  • privacy screening or hedge plantings
  • in a pool cage planter (interior above 15 feet)
  • as a large corner accent
  • to cover a blank wall, fence or side of house or garage
  • container plant for pool, patio or screened lanai

GOOD SNOWBIRD PLANT? YES (if irrigation is available)

COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: As a backdrop for large shrubs such as jatropha and selloum philodendron or medium-size shrubs like hibiscus, copper plant and croton. As a secondary hedge to alter texture planted in back of viburnum suspensum.

Other palms you might like: Cat Palm, Arenga (Dwarf Sugar Palm)

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Areca Palm Tree

The World’s Most Popular Indoor Palm

Why Areca Palm Trees?

Areca Palms boldly go further up North than any other palms have before because they thrive in pots and low light conditions. If you live outside of the Areca Palm’s recommended growing zones, you can simply plant them in containers and bring them indoors during the colder months.

And with Areca Palms, you’ll breathe easy because they filter and clean the air. They filter dry, stale air and remove its pollutants and irritants while pumping out fresh, clean and humid oxygen. Plus, each stem is covered with dark, lush, green leaf blades that bring a tropical look to any room of the house.

As a house plant, the Areca Palm greets and entertains guests with year-round color. Creamy white flowers emerge that give way to small, bright orange ornamental fruits that are referred to as ‘betel nuts’.

Why is Better

Best of all, Areca Palms are incredibly hassle-free. With a high a level of drought tolerance and heat resistance, they will handle the hottest month of the year without any trouble. And they aren’t picky about their soil, or the amount of sunlight they receive.

We’ve planted and grown our Arecas to be proven performers in your homescape, so that means effortless care and lush growth are a given once your plant arrives to your door.

Get the promise of exotic, tropical-inspired looks in your space today – get the Areca Palm Tree!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: Choose a location that receive a lot of sun (6+ hours daily) in colder climates but indirect sun in warmer climates. When you’re ready to plant, dig your hole 2 to 3 times the width and slightly shallower than the root ball. Hold the tree straight as you begin to back fill the site, tamping down the soil as you go. When finished, apply water to settle the soil and remove any air pockets.

If you plant in a container, select one that is 1 to 2 times larger than the pot your plant arrived in. Choose a location on the patio, backyard, or front/side of the house, providing it will receive full to partial sun.

2. Watering : Stick your finger into the potting soil down to a depth of 2 inches and feel around for any moisture. If the soil is drying out, go ahead and water until you see it escaping the drainage holes and then stop. If there is still moisture present, leave it be until it dries a bit more.

3. Pruning: Palms do not need much pruning except to remove damaged fronds. Be careful not to pull off any dead or damaged fronds – always remove any damaged fronds by pruning them off with a sharp pair of sterilized pruners.

4. Fertilizing: You can apply palm fertilizers that contain specific nutrients best suited for these varieties. If you prefer, you can use a balanced fertilizer such as an 8-8-8 formula for quicker growth in spring and summer. To avoid yellowing and maintain a healthy shade of green coloring, feed your tree a few spoons full of Epsom salt or a fertilizer that contains nutrients like manganese which will prevent the yellowing and shriveling of the fronds.

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Areca Palms For Sale

When it comes to landscaping your property, creating an indoor garden or just adding a new level of curb appeal, adding a palm tree can bring an entirely new personality to your space. Not only do palms add to the aesthetic qualities of your lawn, they can increase your properties value. If your yard is roasting in the open Florida sun, our palms can give your once sunny yard a refreshing shaded area under the canopy of some beautiful tropical plants. Aside from these benefits, every palm tree planted brings with it a host of environmental benefits, including cleaner air for you.

The areca palm is one of the most popular indoor plants in the world, but also is a beautiful addition outdoors. We have areca palms for sale starting as low as $45 for a 15 gallon palm, up to $85 for a larger 25 gallonareca.

The Areca Palm Tree is an incredibly versatile plant

The areca is a versatile tree that can tolerate a wider range of temperatures than many other varieties. It can survive some light frost and calls both subtropical and tropical climates its home. This species, known in Latin as Dypsis lutescens, is also referred to as the butterfly or golden cane palm. Native to Madagascar; it has since been spread around the world. The areca palm has earned the coveted Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its versatility, ease of careand decorative characteristics .

How big do Areca Palms get?

Multiple stems come from a cluster at the base of the plant which can eventually grow to heights that range between 20 and 40 feet. The leaves are long and arched, reaching lengths up to 9 feet on a full grown areca. The multiple leaves curve upwards, resembling a butterfly flapping its wings in the wind. During the summer, you will notice attractive yellow flowerson a mature areca.

Cleaner air! Plant an Areca Palm Tree in your property to protect the enviorment

We all know that plants help clean the air we breathe. Palms our no different. Research has shown that the areca palm filters some known chemicals out of the air such as toluene.\ – a compound that is known to cause human ailments ranging from fatigue to headaches when one is exposed for a prolonged period of time. When kept indoors, even a relatively small areca palm acts as a natural humidifier by transpiring a liter of water into the air eachday.

Other palm trees we offer at A Quality Plant

At A Quality Plant, we have many varieties outside of arecas for sale including Washington Palms, Canary Palms and our Beautiful Bismark palms. We have palms for every space and price point, whether you have an indoor garden, a backyard patio or a boulevard in need some stunning shadetrees.

Everyone, regardless of their horticultural skill can plant and maintain a healthy palm and we will gratefully assist you in whatever way we can. From being natural air filters to providing a substantial increase in your property’s value, palm trees are loaded with benefits. Check out our selection in Ruskin, Florida and let us help you make your own personal tropical oasis.

What’s causing this severe yellowing and spots on areca palm leaves?

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The Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens) is a wonderful choice of indoor palm tree, but it does tend to be prone to getting brown tips on the leaves. The good news is that identifying the cause is quite simple, allowing you to fix the problem and prevent your Areca Palm getting brown tips in the future.

Why does my Areca Palm have brown tips and leaves? Areca Palm tips and leaves turn brown due to overwatering, underwatering, insufficient light, overfertilizing, low humidity, fluoridated or chlorinated water, pests or unnecessary repotting. Identifying the cause is essential to help you fix the problem.

Read on and I’ll explain exactly how to identify why your Areca Palm has brown tips and leaves and explain the steps to fix your plant to have it thriving and looking beautiful once more.

8 Main Causes For Your Areca Palm Getting Brown Tips And Leaves

The most important thing to identify why your Areca Palm is getting brown leaves is to observe your plant closely. Every aspect of your plant, as well as the growing conditions will give you clues to the underlying problem. Once you know what to look for, identifying the problem will be easy.


Areca Palms are not very forgiving of being overwatered. If your Areca Palm is left to sit in waterlogged soil for long, root rot will set in. This leads to the plant being unable to absorb the water and nutrients that it needs from the soil, and you will see brown tips, leading to brown leaves, and eventually browning of the entire plant.

It is essential to plant an Areca Palm in well draining soil. I use a peat based potting mix with added perlite to increase drainage. Use a pot that is large enough to prevent the pot from tipping over, but not sufficiently large that it takes a long time for the potting soil to dry out. Thirdly, it is essential to plant an Areca Palm in a pot with plenty of drainage holes.

Aim to water your Areca palm once the top of the soil feels dry and the first 1-2 inches of soil are barely damp. If you are struggling to assess whether your Areca Palm needs water, read my article all about how to assess when to water indoor plants. If you want to make things a little easier, you can use a moisture meter to measure how damp the soil is. You should water your Areca Palm once the soil is about half way dried out, or your moisture meter is reading medium.

Bear in mind that the amount of light and heat that your Areca Palm is exposed to will dictate how long the potting medium takes to dry out. I alway water my Areca Palm thoroughly every time I water it, to prevent fertilizer salt build up.

Although growing conditions will vary for every plant, I always feel that if the soil takes about a week to dry out sufficiently between waterings, then this is about perfect for an Areca Palm

If the potting soil of your Areca Palm is taking many weeks to dry out, consider whether you have a problem with drainage, size or type of pot, or whether there is insufficient light, heat or ventilation.

The relatively small pot helps my Areca Palm dry out more rapidly, preventing overwatering, which can cause brown tips on the leaves.


The other side of the watering coin that can cause brown tips and leaves on your Areca Palm is underwatering. Areca Palms like fairly moist, but not waterlogged soil most of the time, and once the soil dries out, they will start to show signs of stress.

The plant will decide that it can’t maintain all of it’s leaves and leaflets, and sacrifice some of them, resulting in brown and dying leaves. Something no one caring for an Areca Palm wants to see.

The best way to avoid underwatering your Areca Palm is to have a regular regime of inspecting your houseplants. I walk round my house every few days, inspecting my plants to see if there are signs of stress.

Look closely at the leaves and feel the soil to determine whether your Areca Palm needs watered and forget about just using a watering schedule, as the watering needs of your plant will vary depending on the temperature, light and season.

Insufficient Light

Areca Palms need bright light to grow and thrive well. They are a medium light plant that grows beneath the canopy of larger trees in nature. For this reason, they like bright, but not direct sunlight.

Direct sunlight can cause burning of the leaves, but it tends to be insufficient light that causes more problems. Low light conditions result in the plant not being able to sustain as much greenery, which results in brown tips and brown leaves on your Areca Palm as some of the leaves die back.

The best way to assess whether your plant is getting sufficient light is to observe your plant over time. If you notice that the room you have your Areca Palm in is particularly gloomy, you will need to move it to a brighter location.

An Areca palm will usually do best near an east or west facing window. A little direct sunshine in early morning or late afternoon is fine. In a south facing room, ensure your Areca Palm is placed well away from the window. In a north facing room, get your Areca Palm as close as possible to the window to maximize the available light.

Areca Palm between north and west facing windows

Overfertilizing Causes Brown Tips On Areca Palms

Areca Palms will benefit greatly from a little fertilizer, but it’s very easy to overdo it. Applying fertilizer too often or in too concentrated a form can cause symptoms of fertilizer burn, including brown tips on your Areca Palm.

I recommend fertilizing Areca Palms every two months during the growing season with balanced, water soluble fertilizer, made up at half the concentration recommended on the instructions. I use this balanced fertilizer, which has served me really well over the last few years.

Over time, fertilizer salts can build up in the potting soil, which can lead to the same problem, even though you may be applying the fertilizer correctly. To prevent this, I always water my Areca Palm thoroughly, letting water run through the potting media and out of the drainage holes.

Every few months, I flush the soil out more thoroughly, as this rinses excess fertilizer salts right out of the potting media and prevents this becoming an issue which can cause brown tips on your Areca Palm. I take mine to the sink and let water run through it for 2-3 minutes to ensure this problem is minimized.

Low Humidity

In low humidity conditions, your Areca Palm will lose water from the foliage through transpiration more rapidly than is ideal. Areca Palms are used to growing in warm and humid conditions, and low humidity will lead to brown tips on the leaves, and if left untreated, to generalized browning of the leaflets.

Areca Palms are one of the more forgiving indoor palms when it comes to humidity, but you should still aim to keep humidity above 40% where possible.

The best ways to improve humidity levels are to use a humidity tray, group your houseplants, or use a humidifier. Misting your Areca Palm is largely useless, as this only provides a very short-lived increase in localized humidity.

I’ve written an entire article which discusses 10 of the best ways to increase indoor humidity for your houseplants with minimal effort.

Fluoridated Or Chlorinated Water

Indoors palms are generally quite sensitive to the type of water used on them. Many water treatment facilities add chlorine to tap water to ensure that it is safe to drink. While perfectly safe for human consumption, some plants can be sensitive to chlorine, and one of the symptoms of this is brown tips on your Areca Palm.

If you are doing everything else right for your Areca Palm and it is still getting brown tips, you should definitely try watering your plant with chlorine free water. You can use rainwater or filtered water or, alternatively, if you leave tap water sitting for 24 hours, exposed to sunlight, the chlorine will react with the water, eliminating it almost entirely.

Fluoride in water causes a similar problem with Areca Palm leaf tips, but not all tap water will have significant quantities of fluoride present. This often enters the water supply due to the underlying rock formations that your water supply comes from, but some water authorities add supplemental fluoride to water as a public health measure due to the dental health benefits.

You can usually contact your water supplier or check their website and get a copy of the latest water quality report, which will tell you exactly what concentrations of a whole range of minerals and chemicals are present in your water.

Interestingly, if you plant your Areca Palm in slightly acidic soil, pH 6.0 to 6.5, then this will prevent the fluoride from being available for absorption by your plant, and your Areca Palm will generally do better in slightly acidic soil anyway.


Areca Palms are prone to mealybugs, scale and spider mites. All of these bugs will feed on the stems and foliage, causing damage to the plant, resulting in brown tips and leaves on your Areca Palm.

Whenever you identify brown leaves or tips, it is important to check your plant carefully for any sign of pests. Don’t forget to check both sides of the leaves and the stems too.

If you do find bugs, you should treat this without delay. I’ve written about some of the best ways to get rid of houseplant bugs naturally, so you may not have to resort to chemical pest control.

Unnecessary Repotting

Areca Palms don’t need to be repotted very often. Once every five years is fine for most growing conditions. Every time you repot, you will inevitably damage some of the roots and disrupt the ability of the plant to effectively absorb water and nutrients. As you know by now, the response to this will be to see your Areca Palm getting brown tips and leaves.

Areca Palms don’t need to be repotted more than once every 4-5 years

Treating Your Areca Palm with Brown Tips And Leaves

The most important thing to focus on is to identify the cause and correct the problem with the care of the plant. If you are able to provide good growing conditions, your Areca Palm will produce plenty of new leaves, and this will greatly improve the aesthetics of your plant.

Generally it will not harm your Areca Palm to remove brown leaves or cut off affected leaflets. If the majority of the leaf has turned brown, I cut it off at the base, near the soil, with a pair of sharp and clean pruners.

If it is just the leaf tips that have turned brown, you have two choices.

  1. Option one is to leave the brown tips alone. It is quite common for Areca Palms to develop a few brown leaf tips and, if you have an otherwise healthy plant, then this shouldn’t detract from the look of your plant.
  2. Option two is to artistically cut the brown leaf tips off in a point, so that from a distance, it looks like a normal, but slightly shorter leaflet. Just make a small diagonal cut on each side of the leaflet, coming to a point. It is better to cut off the majority of the brown, but not quite cut into the green healthy part of the leaf, as this can lead to a further brown margin developing.

Don’t Give Up On Your Areca Palm With Brown Tips – They Are Worth The Extra Effort

Areca Palms are ideal larger houseplants that can look stunning in your home, but they do require a little more effort than some plants to keep them in top condition.

I’ve written a more general Areca Palm care guide, which you can read to get all the details of how to keep your Areca Palm in good health right from the start.

Alternatively, take a look at some of my related articles which you may find helpful after reading this one.

  • How to easily improve humidity for indoor plants.
  • 8 ways to tell when a houseplant needs watered.
  • Areca Palm Care Guide
  • Kentia Palm Care Guide
  • How to get rid of houseplant bugs naturally.

The specific care that’s needed for an areca, how and when it should be repotted, watered and what diseases infect it.

Key Areca facts, a summary

Name – Dypsis lutescens
Former name – Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
Family – Arecaceae (also called Palmaceae)

Type – palm tree, indoor plant
Height – 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.5 m) indoors
Exposure – Very well-lit

Soil – soil mix
Foliage – evergreen

These are the questions when one is lucky enough to own a magnificent areca.

Here is all our advice on caring for it!

Planting and repotting the areca

In a pot or garden box

Areca requires good soil mix that can be amended with ⅓ compost, if you’ve got some.
In order to enhance drainage, pour clay pebbles or small stones into the pot to form a layer at the bottom.

This will help ensure that roots won’t wallow in water, which could be fatal to it.

  • Set up your areca in a fair-sized pot filled with special indoor plant or green plant soil mix.
  • It may be necessary to repot it in spring every 2 or 3 years. When not repotting, go for regular topdressing which should also perfectly answer the growth medium needs of the plant.


Generally speaking, areca doesn’t tolerate the cold and can only be planted outdoors in regions where the climate in winter is mild.

Just as might be done in pots, feel free to place a bed of gravel, small stones or clay pebbles at the bottom of the pot to ensure proper drainage.
Atop this layer, you’ll be using a blend of soil mix, garden soil and sand.

Placing an areca in the right spot

Under our climates, areca adapts well to living indoors in our apartments and homes.
It grows best when surrounding temperatures hold around 65 to 72°F (18 to 22°C) and requires very good light, even some direct sunlight.
Behind a window, though, best to avoid too much direct exposure to the sun which might dry the areca up.

Best to place it near a window facing to the West so that it would still have a good deal of light.

If you live in a house that is quite dark, avoid purchasing areca because it won’t cope well with the lack of luminosity.

Watering an areca

Anytime during the year, it is important to mist water on the leaves regularly. This recreates its natural environment living conditions which are rather moist.

In spring and summer

This is most often the time of the year when areca grow most.
Water regularly while letting the soil mix dry in the surface before watering again.

Watering must be regular but limited, in order to not suffocate the plant’s roots.
You might say that watering every 2 or 3 days is often needed.

More or less every two weeks, you can offer it some liquid fertilizer, taking great care to moisten the soil mix beforehand.

In fall and winter

Start reducing the watering because areca water needs begin to decrease.
Only when the soil is dry down to the first inch or so (a couple centimeters), water to moisten the entire soil mix again.

Again, one might contend that watering 2 or 3 times a month should largely suffice.
But this really depends on where your areca is placed: if it is in full sun, its needs will surely be higher.

Finally, this season is also the one to stop adding fertilizer, from October all the way to March and April.

Diseases and parasites infecting areca

Leaves are twisted

This is undoubtedly due to lack of light or excess water.

  • Find a more exposed location for it and reduce watering to match our recommendations above.

Leaves turn yellow

If the plant continues to produce new leaves, this is part of your areca’s natural cycle. Trees, even evergreen trees, lose their leaves to renew them.

  • So you can simply let them dry up and fall off from the areca, or cut them when they’ve finished drying up.
  • If no new shoots appear, however, and that your palm tree looks pitiful, check on your watering. Ensure excellent water drainage, and eventually support the plant with liquid fertilizer every fortnight.

Base of stems turn pinkish and leaves die off

This is a root crown disease called pink rot. As with other root rot sicknesses, the best treatment is to let the plant dry out more often.

  • Indeed, root rot thrives when plants are overwatered.
  • Usually this fungal disease strikes when the plant is wounded. Handle palms with care!
  • It’s called pink rot because spores have a salmon-pink color. When released, they cover the base of plant in a layer of pink dust.

All there is to know about areca

Areca is a very elegant palm tree that adapts very well to indoor life in an apartment or house.

All in one aesthetic, resilient and very easy to grow, this is one of the most appreciated and often-purchased indoor plants.

Its foliage is quite elegant and brings a touch of exotic life to a living room, dining area, or any other room of the house that is well-lit.

It’s a cousin to the larger Areca palm that produces betel nut spice, the Betel nut palm. Scientific name of Betel is Areca catechu.

Smart tip about Areca palms

In a house, tall Areca fronds tend to fall over. When indoors, they aren’t hardened by outdoor gusts of wind. To keep them from falling over, tie them loosely together with a cute ribbon. You can even use a macramé necklace or strand of wicker!

Read also

  • Did you know that plants cleanse indoor air from pollutants?

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Areca palms in two pots in living room by Flower Council Holland / the joy of plants

The Best Fertilizer for Areca Palms

Basic Requirements for an Areca Palm

An areca palm needs a lot of light, but it should be indirect. A little full sun in the early morning or late afternoon won’t hurt. The plants like a lot of water – especially when grown outdoors – but don’t do well with waterlogged soil. Make sure your containers have good drainage. Temperatures must remain between 55°F (13°C) and 75°F (24°C).

Soil for an Areca Palm

The areca palm needs soil that is rich but well-drained. It also prefers acidic soil. Perform a soil test periodically – the pH should be below 7.0. Adding peat moss to the soil is one good way to make it more acid; use this strategy when mixing potting soil for arecas in containers. Sulfur, aluminum sulfate and ferrous sulfate can be added to outdoor soils, especially alkaline clay. Follow package directions.

Areca Palm Nutrient Needs

It’s always better to prevent nutrient deficiencies than treat them later. Areca palms have some specific macro- and micro-nutrient needs:

  • The big three are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK), plus
  • Manganese (Mn)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Boron (B)
  • Iron (Fe).

These elements interact with each other. For example, fertilizers with a high N:K ratio can make potassium and magnesium deficiencies worse.

Fertilizing Areca Palms Outdoors

Like many tropical plants, areca palms given the right conditions can grow moderately fast. They are considered heavy feeders and should have fertilizer made specifically for palm trees. Spread slow release granular palm fertilizer (8-2-12 NPK) with micro-nutrients over the soil in spring, summer and fall. For 100 square feet of palm canopy, use up to one-and-a-half pounds of fertilizer.

Fertilizing Areca Palms In Containers

Whether indoors or out, areca palms in containers are susceptible to the build-up of fertilizer salts in the soil. Use a timed-release fertilizer pellet in the spring or use the same fertilizer you use for outdoor palms, three or four times a year. The recommendation is to use one or two teaspoons per six-inch pot and one or two tablespoons for a one-gallon pot. Water well after fertilizing.

Micro-nutrients for Areca Palms

Getting micro-nutrients into areca palms grown outdoors is not too difficult. Container growing is fraught with issues that can cause problems. Salt build-up, pH problems and chemicals like chlorine and fluoride in tap water can interfere with micro-nutrient absorption. Try using a micro-nutrient foliar spray to help manage these problems.

Fertilization regimen reduces environmental impact of landscape palms

Broschat published the results of a study of areca palms in the March 2015 issue of HortScience. “The experiments were designed to determine if areca palms can be grown without supplemental phosphorus (P) in sandy or calcareous landscape soils, if areca palms can grow without supplemental nitrogen (N) during the summer rainy months of June through September in southern Florida, and if a controlled-release 0N-0P-13.3K-6Mg plus micronutrients (0-0-16) fertilizer can be used to mitigate potential damage to palms caused by application of high-N fertilizers to palms or nearby turfgrass,” explained Broschat. He noted that areca palms were used because they are sensitive to all of the common deficiencies associated with palms, including nitrogen.

According to the study, current maintenance fertilizer recommendations for landscape palms in Florida entail four applications per year of a controlled release 8N-0.9P-10K-4Mg plus micronutrients (8-0-12) palm fertilizer. “However, because phosphorus and nitrogen are considered pollutants of ground and inland and coastal surface waters, it is important to apply only as much of these elements as necessary for palm health,” Broschat said.

The experiments showed that areca palms growing on a sandy native soil or on a calcareous fill soil grew equally well with 8-0-12 fertilizer and the traditional 8N-0.9P-10K-4Mg plus micronutrients (8-2-12) formulation. “This indicates that phosphorus could be eliminated from the fertilizer without affecting palm growth or quality,” Broschat said.

Additional results showed that fertilization with high nitrogen:potassium ratio fertilizers (typically used on St. Augustinegrass) reduced palm growth and overall quality. “These negative effects could be mitigated by supplementing these products with a controlled-release palm fertilizer having an analysis of 0-0-16-6 Mg plus micronutrients,” Broschat said. “Substitution with 0-0-16 for 8-0-12 for the summer rainy season application resulted in similar palm quality to that obtained when 8-0-12 or 8-2-12 was applied year-round.”

Broschat said that areca palms are susceptible to the same nutrient deficiencies as other common landscape palms, so the study results should be applicable to other species growing under similar environmental conditions.

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