Everything about Areca Palm

16 Oct 2021

This highly popular houseplant was actually once endangered, however, today you’ll find them in many offices, shopping malls, and homes. This lush palm will make for a stunning addition to any dining room or bedroom.

Let’s dive straight into its main characteristics followed by how to care for it, and how to revive an areca palm.

Main Characteristics

Dypsis lutescens is the palm’s current scientific name, however, it was previously known as the chrysalidocarpus lutescens. Areca palms are also commonly called bamboo palm, butterfly palm, golden cane palm, and yellow palm.

This tropical houseplant is native to Madagascar, just like the majesty palm. It belongs to the Arecaceae family and is often mistaken for a parlor palm. It is a widely used houseplant adding just that bit of tropical feel needed in any home.

Apart from its lush foliage, the best thing about the areca palm is that it’s a natural air purifier. We’ll discuss this in more detail below.


Just like the English ivy, the areca palm is an amazing air purifier. It absorbs many air pollutants from the air we breathe, while also providing us with fresh oxygen.

It removes acetone, xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde from the surrounding air. It also makes the air slightly more humid.

Top Tip: It is the perfect houseplant if you have upper respiratory issues.

Cat Palm vs. Areca Palm

Many palm owners often confuse the cat palm with an areca palm. There are two major differences; their leaves and mature size.

The cat palm’s foliage is a darker green color and it has fewer leaflets attached to its fronds, whereas, the areca palm’s fronds are light green and they have more leaflets. The areca palm is also slightly larger than a cat palm.


Indoor areca palms grow up to a mature height of 6 to 8 feet (1.8 – 2.4m).

Fun Fact: An areca palm grown outdoors can reach heights of about 10 to 30 feet (3 – 9.1m), and can grow 8 to 15 feet (2.4 – 4.6m) wide.

How Fast Does It Grow?

Dypsis lutescens has a relatively moderate growth rate and can grow 6 to 10 inches (15.2 – 25.4cm) taller each year until it reaches its mature height.

How Long Can It Live?

This palm has one of the shorter lifespans and will only live for 10 years.

Is It Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

The golden cane palm is non-toxic and is completely pet-friendly.

Keep in mind that your cat may love playing with the palm’s fronds, so maybe place it somewhere your furry friend can’t get to.

Areca palm - size, lifespan, toxicity, growth speed (infographics)

Areca Palm Care

The areca palm won’t tolerate neglect. It needs to be watered, fed, and looked after well for it to flourish and thrive.

Take a look at the care requirements below.

How Often to Water It?

This palm prospers in moist potting soil, but that doesn’t mean it likes soggy and saturated soil. It is highly sensitive to overwatering and cannot tolerate being waterlogged.

A general rule of thumb is that the soil should be left to dry out in between waterings. You should water it once the top 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) is dry.

The plant’s potting mix must be kept moist during the spring and summertime, however, during the cooler winter and autumn months you can let it dry out a bit more.

Much like the air plant, an areca palm is sensitive to fluoride and other chemicals in tap water. Ideally, you should water it with distilled water or even rainwater.

Top Tip: If you don’t have distilled water then simply set out a container of tap water outdoors overnight to allow the chemicals to evaporate.


An areca palm requires frequent watering as it prefers to be grown in moist soil, therefore, adequate drainage is imperative to prevent fungal diseases. Poor drainage will also cause its roots to drown and rot.

You’ll need to plant your golden cane palm in a container with ample drainage holes. The excess water has to be able to flow out.

You can add some perlite, sand, and clay to your potting mix to improve its drainage and aeration. Aeration is super important as without it your plant can’t photosynthesize effectively.

How to Trim

Your palm needs to be trimmed once a year or when you notice any dead or damaged foliage.

Trim the entire frond off when they’re totally brown and dead. If you cut off the tips then the foliage will not grow. You must also snip off the flower and fruit once they begin to die.

Always wipe your pruners or pair of scissors with rubbing alcohol or a diluted bleach solution to sterilize the blades in order to prevent the spreading of bacteria and disease.

Top Tip: If the leaves are looking a little dusty, take out a damp cloth and gently wipe the dust off.


Dypsis lutescens prefer to be slightly cramped, therefore, it usually needs to be repotted every 1 to 2 years.

If your plant has become very root bound, when its roots begin to grow through the drainage holes, then you’ll need to repot it. It is also necessary to repot it when fertilizer salts have built up in the soil.

It is best to transplant the palm during the springtime and make sure that the container isn’t too big. Fresh potting soil should be used to ensure that there are ample amounts of nutrients.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Remove the palm from its current pot by knocking on the bottom of the container to loosen the soil.
  2. Gently rinse off the excess soil under a stream of water, and prepare a pot with fresh potting soil.
  3. When you plant the areca palm, make sure that it’s the same depth as it was in its original container. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t spread its roots as they’re very brittle.
  4. Deeply water it to ensure that there are no air pockets, and then firm the soil by patting it down with your fingers.


Let’s take a look at how you can create the perfect environment for your dypsis lutescens, so it prospers and blooms.

Light Requirements

Dypsis lutescens thrives in bright, indirect sunshine. If you want it to bloom and produce its small fruits then it’s imperative that it receives enough sunlight.

The areca palm requires a fine balance of sunlight. If the plant is placed in direct sunlight then its leaves will burn, however, it doesn’t do well in shady areas either.

Unfortunately, once the palm’s fronds have scorched, they don’t return back to their normal color.


We previously mentioned that the areca palm flourishes in moist and well-draining soil. It prefers a slightly acidic potting mixture but will do just fine in soil with a neutral pH level. Areca palms also love peat-based potting soil.

The following make for great additions to the potting mixture:

  • Compost: It ensures that your palm gets all of the nutrients it desires and it retains the right amount of moisture.
  • Perlite: It’s an excellent addition to any soil as it boosts drainage, filters well, and provides more oxygen to the houseplant’s roots.
  • Sand: This is beneficial as it will break up compacted soil and aerates the potting mix.
  • Vermiculite: It is a spongy mineral that is great at absorbing and retaining water.


You have two options when it comes to feeding an areca palm.

Option 1:

Use a balanced water-soluble liquid fertilizer once a month during spring through summer. You can refrain from feeding it during winter and autumn when the plant isn’t actively growing.

Option 2:

Use a slow-releasing fertilizer during the springtime so that it has plenty of nutrients the entire season.

Once it’s summertime you can then use a micro-nutrient spray once a month.

Be wary when you’re fertilizing your houseplant as a fertilizer overdose will cause salts to build up in the soil and spots may develop on the leaves.

Best Pot

Dypsis lutescens prefers to be slightly cramped and pot-bound. A pot must have ample drainage holes so that all the water can drip out. This is necessary so that the palm doesn’t sit in soggy conditions.

The container should be around 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) wider than the rootball. This way the roots will have enough space to grow while encouraging the plant to flower.


This houseplant will be happy in temperatures between 65 to 75°F (18.3 – 23.9°C). It doesn’t do well in cool areas, and can’t survive in temperatures below 50°F (10°C).

Make sure to keep the palm away from any cold or hot drafts.


Areca palms thrive in tropical conditions, so it needs to be grown in a humid environment. If the air is too dry, its leaf tips may brown.

You can improve humidity levels around the palm by surrounding it with other houseplants. You can try placing a bowl of water next to your houseplant or place a humidifier close by. Another effective method is placing stones and water in a tray and then positioning the pot on top of the stones.

The best way to create high humidity levels is by exposing the air to water.

Outdoors vs. Indoors

The areca palm grows in USDA zones 10 and 11. They thrive in warm, tropical regions and grow much taller when planted outdoors.

Once it’s wintertime you’ll need to bring the palm indoors as it won’t survive in temperatures below 50°F (10°C). If you live in a particularly warm area then you may need to water it more frequently to maintain moist potting soil.


Dypsis lutescens blooms small beautiful bright yellow flowers during the late spring to early summer months. You’ll see these flowers emerge beneath the leaves and a few months later there will be small fruits.

These fruits are about 1 inch (2.5cm) wide and will turn into a yellowy-orange once they have ripened. Please note that they are non-edible.

How to Grow

It is fairly straightforward to grow your palm collection. You can propagate it by dividing its rootball and you can grow the houseplant by seed.

The best time of the year to propagate and grow your areca palm is during spring.


You can propagate your areca palm by splitting its rootball into separate clumps that can be planted. Follow the simple steps below.

  1. Gently remove the palm from its pot by knocking on the sides of the container to loosen the soil.
  2. Brush off any excess soil still attached to the roots, and rinse the rootball under some water.
  3. Use a sharp blade to cut a clump with at least 4 to 5 stems and roots attached.
  4. Prepare a new pot with some peat-based potting mixture.
  5. Plant the division into the pot and water it deeply.
  6. Find a sunny home for your palm and care for it as you would a mature palm.

How to Plant Its Seeds

Growing an areca palm from seed is pretty straightforward. You can plant the seeds produced by its fruit.

Check out the step-by-step guide below.

  1. First, you need to soak the seeds in warm sulfuric acid. This will speed up the germination process.
  2. Get out a shallow tray and fill it with a moist potting mixture.
  3. Evenly sprinkle the seeds across the soil and mist them with tepid water.
  4. Keep the temperature around 80°F (26.6°C) and make sure the seeds are kept in a humid environment.
  5. In about 6 weeks they should have germinated.
  6. Now, you must wait until it has grown 3 leaves before you can repot the seedlings.

How to Revive It

Have noticed that your areca palm’s fronds are looking slightly different or diseased? Your palm is trying to tell you that it’s not being adequately cared for. We’ll tell you how to solve any potential issues that your plant may be facing.

Brown Leaf Tips

This is also known as leaf tip burn. There are few reasons for brown tips; cold temperatures, overwatering, underwatering, and poor drainage.

There are pretty simple solutions depending on the issue at hand. Make sure to place your plant in a warm area where it’ll soak in plenty of bright sunshine.

Always remember that an areca palm needs to be grown in moist potting soil, however, soggy conditions will lead to the demise of your plant. Always feel the soil before watering the palm. If it’s dry then proceed to water, however, if it’s still moist then maybe wait a day before watering it.

If a lack of drainage is the problem, then make sure that the soil is well aerated and the pot has at least 3 to 5 drainage holes.

Leaves Yellowing

If you have noticed that the lower leaves are turning yellow, don’t worry as this is natural when the plant gets older.

When many leaves begin to yellow then there may be a problem. Your plant is either receiving direct sunlight or is underwatered.

The foliage will become scorched by the harsh sun rays, so make sure to find a home where it’ll receive indirect sunlight.

The areca palm loves a moist environment and can’t stand dry conditions. You’ll need to water your plant more frequently going forward and keep the soil moist.

Brown Patches on the Leaves

Brown patches are caused by sunburn, this is when your plant is placed in direct sunshine.

The fronds thrive in bright sunlight but they shouldn’t be kept in an area where they’ll sit in direct sunshine. Simply, find a new home where it will receive indirect light and be protected from harsh sunlight.

Droopy Leaves

It’s sad to see your houseplant’s fronds droop, crack or fold inwards. Usually, this is due to a lack of water.

Keep in mind that the areca palm flourishes in a moist potting mixture, so the soil should never be left to dry out. You’ll need to water your plant more often and always touch the soil to check that it isn’t too dry.


Dypsis lutescens isn’t too difficult to grow but it does require some proper care. You’ll need to ensure that it stays in indirect sunlight, is properly watered, and fed if you want it to bloom stunning flowers and fruit.

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