Areca palm care and how to maintain

Know in one minute about Areca palm & Areca palm care

  • Areca palm is a beautiful, evergreen, cluster-forming palm plant that can grow indoor and outdoor.
  • It removes indoor air pollutants and purifies the air.
  • Plant areca palm in well-draining peat-based humus-rich soil.
  • Need bright indirect sunlight and a moderate amount of water.
  • Grow well in room humidity with temperature 65°F- 75°F (18°C-24°C).
  • Fertilize the plant to obtain the best growth.
  • Easy to propagate by offsets.
  • Generally, safe for pets.

Introduction 

Areca palm is a popular ornamental palm belonging to the Arecaceae family.  This plant is not only a wonderful choice for indoors but can also be grown outdoors in mild climates (1).  This plant has bamboo-like, multiple stems that emerge from the base that grows upwards and are topped with curved, feathery green leaves. Areca palm is inexpensive, widely available, easy to grow and maintain, with air purifying capacity  (2). The following article is thus about areca palm and areca palm care.

Common name

Golden cane palm, golden feather palm, areca palm, yellow palm, bamboo palm, or butterfly palm

Geographical distribution

It is native to the Philippines, Madagascar, and South India, etc.

Botanical description

Botanical Name

Chrysalidocarpus lutescens or Dypsis lutescens

Height 

About 6–15 meters (20–49 feet) outdoors and 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.5 m) indoors.

Indoors, areca palms can grow between six to 10 feet high. Areca palms grow 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) per year and typically live about ten years.

Leave 

The leaves are evergreen, arched, 2–3 m (6 ft 7 in–9 ft 10 in) long, and pinnate. It has approximately 90-100 pairs of leaflets that appear to be in the shape of a “V”.

Flower

It bears 2 feet long panicles of gold/ yellow flowers in summer. 

Fruit

The fruits are small, oval-shaped, yellow-orange that mature to nearly black and bear a hard single seed.

Air purifying plant

According to the rating from NASA studies, areca palm plants have the 8th highest removal rate for acetone, xylene, and toluene.  It can be efficient to remove the following indoor air pollutants. 

1. Remove total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), carbon dioxide (CO2), and carbon monoxide (CO) 

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in indoor air have adverse health effects. One hazardous VOC is Formaldehyde which can cause sensory irritation and induce nasopharyngeal cancer (3).

Areca palm potted plants effectively reduce the primary indoor air pollutant viz. TVOCs, CO2, and CO levels (up to 95.70 %.) This plant absorbs the contaminants from the air and improves indoor air quality (4).

2. Eliminate formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a common indoor air pollutant that can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.  However, the setting of potted plants of areca palm decreases the atmospheric formaldehyde concentration and purifies the indoor air  (5).

3. Absorb acetone, xylene, and toluene

Areca palm plants help in absorbing indoor air pollutants like acetone, xylene, and toluene pollutants. Thus give clean and fresh air to respire and remove the pollutants from petroleum products, paints, cosmetics, gasoline, and wooden furniture (6).

Areca palm care

Areca palm care is relatively easy as it requires moderate water and good morning sunlight. And grows well in normal humidity and 65 °F- 75 °F (18 °C-24 °C) temperatures. 

1. Sun requirement

This plant needs bright indirect light (partial shade). However direct sunlight more than a few hours per day may dry, burn and yellow the leaves.

2. Water requirement

This plant needs a moderate amount of water to keep the soil moist and allow drying out between watering.

Areca palm doesn’t require a lot of watering because overwatering may kill the plant by root rotting and brown leaves.

Reduce watering during the winter months and avoid high fluoride-containing water that affects the plant. 

3. Type of soil

This plant grows best in a well-draining peat-based humus-rich potting mix. It helps to improve moisture and lower the pH of the soil without extra waterlogging. The blend of soil mix, garden soil, and sand with proper drainage holes in the pot is one possible good mix.

4. Temperature and Humidity 

Areca palm plants grow well in normal humidity and 65 °F- 75 °F (18 °C-24 °C) temperatures.  This plant will doesn’t remain in good health (dark spots on leaves) at lower than 55 °F (12.7 °C) or sudden temperature drops. Moreover, dry air can also turn brown the leaf tips thus increasing humidity around the plant to prevent this problem.

5. Fertilizer

Fertilize about once a month with a slow-release liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer seasons. Suspend fertilizing during the dormant late fall and winter period. Moreover, do not fertilize when you have just repotted with a new potting mix.

6. Repotting

This plant is slightly pot-bound and crowded roots help limit the size of the plant so report it every 2-3 years.

Replace the old soil with fresh soil one size up to the current pot without disturbing the plant too much. 

Mode of propagation

Areca palm can be propagated either by seeds or by offsets (stem cutting). However, propagation from seeds is a little difficult due to its less availability and time consumption. Moreover, the older seed is better than the younger seeds in terms of germination rate. 

On the other hand, propagation by stem cutting is quite easy. This is the best way to propagate by gently dividing the offsets that grow out from the base of the plant. The removed portion can grow by planting them in moist soil.

Are areca palms toxic?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the areca palm is nontoxic to dogs and cats.

Common issues with Areca Palm

Areca palms are easy to grow but they are prone to some diseases that occur to both indoor and outdoor plants. These problems are due to overwatering, under watering, poor soil, inadequate light, over-fertilizing, repotting, and fluorinated or chlorinated water. Apart from this, it is also affected by a variety of pathogens and insects. Let’s take a closer look at some of these infections and diseases. 

1. Leaf Spots and blight

Areca palms are generally prone to leaf spots and blight, particularly during seedling and juvenile stages. These spots are oily, brown, and can be circular to elongate which is caused by fungus.

This disease damages the leaf blade-like if a tiny spot occurs at some distance stated as a leaf spot. On the other hand, in leaf blight, the spots fuse to make big area damage to the leaf blade.

They can either be yellowish gray, reddish-brown, or brown to black in appearance. These diseases can be caused by several plant pathogenic fungi which do not be identified by visual symptoms (7).

Moreover, mineral nutrition may influence the susceptibility of this plant to leaf spots. Improper mineral nutrition easily produces disease symptoms due to stress (8).

2. Ganoderma Root

Ganoderma butt rot is a fungal disease caused by the Ganoderma zonatum wood-decaying fungi.  This fungus is spongy, initially white, and later develops a reddish-brown color on the top.

The first symptom of infection is mild to severe wilting and causes premature death of lower (older) leaves. The leaves may turn yellow, wilt, and retarded growth of the plant due to the decaying of roots. This fungus survives in the soil thus infecting other planted plants in the same location.

3. Bud Rot

Bud rotting can be due to fungal pathogens such as Phytophthora palmivora and Thielaviopsis species. This disease can also be caused by bacterial pathogens, excessive rain or overhead watering, high humidity, and cold weather. This disease infects new sprouting buds, cause black lesions and wilt young leaves.

4. Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt is a common fungal disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum that even kills the plant. It can stunt the growth, turns leaves pale green to golden yellow, and eventually become brown. This fungus affects the older leaves and causes wilting and drop-off up to the younger part of the palm.

5. Pest attack

Areca palms are susceptible to some pests. It includes spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs, scales, and whiteflies. These insects damage the leaf, discoloration, and can lead to death (9).

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