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The Areca Palm, or Dypsis lutescens, is a great palm for a tropical splash in the summertime on home patios and building entrances in northern climates. It can also thrive indoors, but it takes a lot of light for that to happen, and it’s highly rated for cleaning indoor air.
|Size||3-4', 4-5', 5-6+'|
|Difficulty||Moderate Care Level|
|Light||Bright Indirect Light|
|Pet Friendly||This plant is safe for pets|
The Areca Palm is a great plant to create a tropical setting in a very well lit room. Also known as the Butterfly Palm, because of its arching yellowish-green fronds, and the Party Palm, because it’s widely rented for weddings and parties, this less-expensive cousin of the Kentia Palm is a great choice for a long-term relationship if you can give it great light and keep it warm; otherwise, it’s a cheap date you can flirt with all summer and try another one next year.
With the high-light requirement, this palm is a heavy drinker. Thoroughly wet the soil with each watering and let it dry down until the soil surface is dry before watering again. Sub-irrigation can be very helpful in reducing the frequency of watering. Please see our watering guide for more details.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently, the Areca Palm needs lots of light. You might be able to move it to low/medium light for special occasions, but if you want it to last you’ll need to have it parked in a very bright spot nearly full time.
Like other plants shipped fresh from Florida, you won’t need to feed this palm for at least 6 months after you get it. That’s because there is residual nutrients in the soil from when the palm was being propagated. After 6 months, it can be fed quarterly with a complete fertilizer formulated for interior plants. But don’t let the yellow stems and petioles fool you in to thinking it needs more nutrients because the yellow color is a natural characteristic of the plant.
This plant, with its numerous stems and plentiful leaves and leaflets can be a challenge to clean. While we still prefer a cleaning regimen with damp cloth soaked in water and a light soap solution, it would be okay to break out the feather duster on this plant. Make sure your feather duster is clean though because it’s a great way to inadvertently spread spider mites and other critters.
Older leaves will turn brown (especially if you let it dry out) and you can just prune them off at the base of the stem. Eventually, too, the sheaths around the stem will brown and once they’re brown, you should be able to just peel them off the stem and expose the fresh, powder-coated stem beneath.
There’s always a chance for a mealybug to set up camp on your Areca Palm. Look for the little white cottony mealybugs at the base of the leaves, on the stems, and especially under the leaf sheaths between the sheath and the stem; mites will hide on the bottom side of the leaves and produce webs. Be extra vigilant when scouting for mites, as they can do irreparable harm quickly often mistaken for dust on the underside of the leaves. If you see either of these, break out the spray bottle with a light soap solution and spray them daily ’til they’re gone.
Keep an eye out for the bugs mentioned above, and you’ll enjoy this palm for a summer fling or long-term relationship in a well-lit room.