Botanical name: Dypsis lutescens
Synonym: Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
Areca palm also called Butterfly Palm or Golden Cane Palm has its origins in Madagascar. It is one of the popular Indoor Palms. Areca Palm is easy to grow and adds that unmatched exotic feel to any room. Areca Palm belongs to a group of palms (called cane palms) which produce tall reed-like stems which look like bamboo canes when mature. It can grow to a height of 6-10 ft under good conditions. The fronds may reach 3 ft or more. Its smooth yellowish bamboo-like canes and beautiful yellowish-green leaflets make it stand out as a focal point plant. The long, feathery fronds grow in a canopy lending an air of elegance and sophistication to any space. The fronds grow in clusters or thick clumps. The clusters comprising of 6-8 leaves grow on long petioles which curve upwards thus the butterfly appearance. The palm grows slowly and may take a few years to reach the average height of 6 ft. Once grown and mature, it may also produce flowers. According to a study carried out by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to find out the effectiveness of houseplants in cleaning indoor air for their spacecrafts, Areca Palm was found to clean indoor air of common VOCs like formaldehyde, xylene and toulene.
Areca Palm prefers partial shade, close to an east- or west-facing window. Too much light will cause the palm to develop a yellowish color. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Keep the soil moderately moist at all times for Areca Palm during the growing season. Reduce watering in the cold season and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Use chlorine-free water for watering; like all palms Areca Palm is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicsl dissolved in water. Avoid getting the base of the palm wet to prevent rotting. Do not allow the palm to sit in soggy soil as it may lead to root-rot and eventual death of the palm. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth with a minimum of 120C is ideal for Areca Palm. If the temperature is comfortable for you it is suitable for the Areca Palm. Protect the palm from cold draughts. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.
Feed Areca Palm with a water-soluble fertilizer rich in micronutrients on monthly basis during the growing period. Take care not to overfeed as it leads to yellowing of the plant. Withhold feeding during the cold season as the growth is minimal. To prevent fertilizer build up which is indicated by leaf burn and brown spots, water thoroughly until water comes out through the drainage hole. Find out more on feeding houseplants.
Repot Areca Palm every 3 years when it has overgrown its current pot. Keep it crowded to prevent it from growing too fast. Use a pot with a drainage hole and free-draining sandy soil to prevent waterlogging as it may lead to root-rot. Apply a slow release fertilizer to the potting soil to promote faster establishment. The fertilizer will be adequate for the next 3-4 months. Take care not to damage the roots and don't try to seperate or spread out the roots. Water the palm thoroughly and gently press down the soil to get rid of air pockets.
Pruning Areca Palm is easy. Cut away the old brown and dry fronds near the soil surface to maintain the palm neat and tidy. Where the seeds are required for propagation, allow the fruits to mature and drop then cut away the spent flower stalk. Where the seeds are not required, cut away the flower stalk immediately it begins to form to prevent the palm from wasting energy on developing the flowers and seeds. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.
Areca Palm can be propagated from seeds, offshoots or splits. Seed germination is difficult; may take up to 4-6 months and requires keeping the soil moist through out the period.
Propagating Areca Palm from seeds
Seed germination of Areca Palm may take up to 4-6 months. Sow the seeds in moist soil and place in a warm place, about 300C. Keep the soil moist through out the period until germination takes place. Lower the temperature slightly after germination and maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established.
propagating Areca Palm from offshoots
Carefully cut the offshoot from the mother Areca Palm. Ensure the offshoot has adequate roots before seperating it from the mother. Pot the offshoot in its own pot, place in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist through out. Allow the offshoot to be well established before transplanting.
Propagating Areca Palm from splits
During repotting, divide the Areca Palm into sections and plant the sections in individual pots. Place in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges.
Reasons for brown leaf tips in Areca Palm are dry air, underwatering, cold draughts and damage by touching. Trim off the brown tips with sterilized scissors. Correct the faults by raising the humidity, watering correctly, protecting the plant from draughts and placing the palm away from traffic respectively.
Underwatering is the reason. Keep the soil moderately moist at all times during the growing season. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Overwatering or sudden decrease of temperature are the causes. Remove the affected parts and improve the growing conditions by correct watering and maintaining the right temperature by protecting the palm from cold draughts.
These are normal for Areca Palm. Clean them off by gently wiping them off with a soft damp cloth.
The lower leaves may turn brown and droop due to age; remove by cutting and not pulling. If browning is general and accompanied by rotting the reason is root-rot disease due to waterlogging.
Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens) is non-toxic to humans and pets. The palm is safe to grow indoors.