Areca palms are gorgeous plants, thanks in part to their large, glossy blooms and elegant-looking stems. They prefer a warm, humid environment and indirect light, and they are native to Madagascar.
If you’re loving your Areca palm but they start looking unhealthy, there are usually simple solutions to the problem. To be sure, once your Areca palm starts to die, it is usually due to underwatering or overwatering, too little or too much light, humidity that is too low, using too much fertilizer, poor repotting techniques, using fluoridated or chlorinated water, or even pests.
Let’s take a look at these seven problems in a little more detail.
1. Underwatering or Overwatering
All plants need water to survive, but both too little and too much water can kill them. To make sure your Areca palms get the right amount of water, make sure you use well-draining potting soil and flower pots that have drainage holes.
Water them more when it’s warm outside and less often when it’s cold. Never add water until the first 2 inches of soil are completely dried out, which you can test with your finger. Also keep in mind that this type of palm loves humidity, so you might want to spray it occasionally with some water from a spray bottle.
2. Too Little or Too Much Light
Areca palms need sunlight, but indirect light is always best. If the palms are placed in the direct sun, it can result in the leaves turning a yellowish-green color, which means it will eventually die.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, put your palms close to a window that faces either south or west. For people in the Southern Hemisphere, windows that face north or east work best. It can take some experimentation to figure out exactly where to put your own Areca palm, but these tips should help.
3. Humidity That is Too Low
Areca palms love humidity because they’re used to tropical and sub-tropical environments. The best scenario is a household temperature of 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and when this happens it isn’t unusual for the plant to reach a height of 10 feet.
If you live in USDA growing zones 10 or 11, you can keep the plants inside all year long. In most of these places, the winter temperatures remain above freezing, so the plants’ environment is closest to their native environment.
If you live somewhere that’s dry, spray the leaves of your palm plant with water 2-3 times per week so that it stays nice and moist.
4. Using Too Much Fertilizer
When growing Areca palms in a pot inside your home, they will need extra nutrition, which means they need a good fertilizer. Get a fertilizer with a good balance of nutrients, and if you can find one that is specifically made for indoor plants, this is even better.
During the cooler months, you won’t need to fertilize the palms, but try to fertilize them every few months during the warmer months so they can grow properly and get the nutrients they need.
5. Poor Repotting Techniques
The good news about Areca palms is that they do not need to be repotted very often. Why? Because as a general rule, they prefer living in tight, snug pots. Still, if you ever see roots that seem to be trying to escape the bottom of the pot, repotting is highly recommended.
When you do this, always use a pot that is slightly larger than the one you’re getting rid of, and always repot the plant in the springtime. Do not fertilize for several months afterward to protect the roots from damages, but after a few months you can treat the plant as you normally would.
6. Using Fluoridated or Chlorinated Water
Areca palms can be picky about the type of water used to water the plants. They are actually sensitive to water that has any fluoride or chlorine in it, so the best thing to do is use rainwater, purified water, or distilled water for great results.
If you want to make it easier on yourself, buy a filter for your faucet that removes any impurities from the water. It might cost a bit in the beginning but it will save you money over time.
7. Pests of All Types
Like most other plants, Areca palms can get infested with all types of pests. This is usually the result of improper growing conditions, and can cause the plants to eventually die. Here are a few pests that can be a problem with Areca palms:
Mealybugs look a lot like tiny cotton buds that stick to the underside of the leaves. They are usually the result of conditions that are too dry.
Scale insects are small and brown. You can get rid of them by wiping the leaves with a soft cloth that you’ve soaked with an insecticide which has fatty acids in it.
Red spider mites
Red spider mites are attracted to palms when the air is dry. They produce small dark eggs that can be eliminated by wiping them with a cloth filled with an insecticide with fatty acids in it.
A damp cloth soaked with a fatty acid-filled insecticide is the perfect item to use on the leaves of any Areca palm that suddenly is covered with any types of pest. You’ll also notice that most of the time, it is dry conditions that cause the pests to arrive.
Remember, these are plants that love a lot of moisture because this is what they’re used to!
Areca palms are beautiful plants that will automatically add some ambiance to any room in your home. When they start to die, there are numerous reasons why, but the good news is that once you discover what to look for, you can stop the plants from getting any worse.
You’ll have a good shot at reviving them. Areca palms are not difficult to take care of, especially if you know what they need to grow and thrive in the years to come.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.