Areca, a cute indoor palm tree

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

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

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.

Outdoors

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!

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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