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Areca, a cute indoor palm tree

Areca palm

What specific care is needed for an areca?

Key Areca facts, a summary

NameDypsis lutescens
Former nameChrysalidocarpus 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

Planting, when to repot it, and treating falling leaves… these are a few of the many questions when one is lucky to own a magnificent areca. Here is all our advice on caring for it!

Planting and repotting the areca

Get the planting right. Usually, this is the most important step to make sure your areca stays healthy for years.

In a pot or garden box

Areca planting potAreca 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.

Note that leaves might harbor colonies of spider mites and scale.

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!

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Images: 123RF: Serezniy, : Flower Council Holland
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  • Saba wrote on 27 August 2020 at 14 h 58 min

    I bought araca plam and I saw yellow spot in the end of plant.

    • Gaspard wrote on 27 August 2020 at 16 h 30 min

      Hi Saba, perhaps its an insect since it’s only a spot. It might be thrips, but only a picture will help us know for sure. If it happens on more than one leaf at the same time, maybe it’s the beginning of overwatering. You need to make sure water drains very well.

  • Helen Pinkerton wrote on 5 January 2020 at 19 h 34 min

    I have an Areca palm plant. The stems of new shoots are covered in a brown substance, not so much on the leaves but on the stems. The new leaves that are blooming have a sticky, really shiny surface, looks like something shiny has been poured onto them. Could you please tell me what is wrong with my plant? Do I have to throw it out and buy a new one?

    • Gaspard wrote on 6 January 2020 at 4 h 35 min

      Hello Helen! It sounds like something is wrong, yes. Usually, this is a type of disease connected to rotting roots. It’s often connected to overwatering. Throwing it out may be the best option if you prefer not going through the hassle of trying to heal it!

  • John Lemon wrote on 6 August 2019 at 21 h 33 min

    Greetings! Recently I purchased a beautiful Areca Palm and I really like it. Today, i noticed small black spots on five of the main shoots. I’m concerned they may be diseased. Is there something I should do to correct this problem? Thank you so much for your help

    • Gaspard Lorthiois wrote on 7 August 2019 at 9 h 56 min

      Hello John, with Areca there are two possible culprits. It may either be a fungal disease, but it might also reveal a nutrient deficiency (usually potassium). Both tend to create spotting, although nutrient deficiencies usually have the spots turn yellow before turning black.

      If it’s a deficiency, a dose of palm fertilizer (found in garden shops) will set things right. For fungus and disease, however, more identification is needed first. In many cases black spots are harmless, but in some action must be taken to prevent disease spread.