areca palm

Growing and Caring for Areca Palms (Dypsis lutescens)

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Beauty and functionality can go hand in hand, and the Areca palm proves it. Also known as the Dypsis lutescens, this palm is known for its beautiful foliage and its ability to be a great screen plant. You may see them in different gardens, especially in areas that need a little more privacy, such as pools and resorts.

The Areca palm tree has become a crowd favorite because it is also a versatile plant. You can opt for it to be an outdoor or indoor potted plant. If you are looking for this palm, it may also be called the bamboo palm, cane palm, golden feather palm, butterfly palm, golden butterfly palm, and yellow palm. Moreover, its old scientific name was Chrysalidocarpus lutescens

In the tropics, this palm is vastly utilized. Also, you can see its large arching fronds from afar. Moreover, it has a yellow-green petiole that has a fleshy basal part.

During summer, it bears beautiful yellow flowers. Aside from these aesthetic qualities, this plant is also known for being one of the best air purifying indoor plants for your home. Some growers plant the Areca palm in big beautiful vases and put them in living rooms or bedrooms. This plant is perfect for those who want a multipurpose plant that will give their homes a more naturalistic feel.

It is rare to find so much function and beauty in one plant. Read on to know more about this majestic plant. 

Plant Facts

Scientific nameDypsis lutescens (formerly known as Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
Common namesbamboo palm, cane palm, golden feather palm, butterfly palm, golden butterfly palm, yellow palm, golden cane palm
FamilyArecaceae
Plant TypeHouseplant or Outdoor Landscape plant
Height and Width4–6 ft. tall (indoors), 4-6 ft. wide (indoors)15–20 ft. tall (outdoors), 8-10 ft. wide (outdoors)
OriginMadagascar
Flower colorsYellow flowers with panicles extending up to 2 feet
Foliage colorGreen or yellow with a waxy feel
Sun ExposureFull sun (more than 6 hours of exposure to sunlight), partial shade (less than 6 hours but more than 2 hours of sunlight exposure), dappled light (light seeps through a canopy or netted roofs during the day)
Soil Type & pHThrives in most soils types (loam, sand, and clay), prefers well-drained soil, soil pH at 5.5-6.5
Special featuresPerfect for big containers, low maintenance, great screen plant, has air purifying abilities that will lessen indoor air pollution, golden stems look similar to bamboos, foliage is arched resembling butterfly wings

How to Grow Areca Palm Trees

In this section, the best practices in growing the Areca palm indoors are discussed. This plant is a famous potted plant and has become a crowd favorite. It can tolerate different light exposures but in an indoor setup, plant it in a place with bright light. Aside from that, read on to know the activities you will need to know in growing your Areca palm.

Propagation

There are 2 known ways in propagating this palm, by seed and by division of suckers. The most efficient way to propagate is by doing the latter. The reason why the division of suckers is highly recommended is that it already has a developed root system while attached to the mother plant. Here are the steps on how to propagate areca palm through division.

  1. Prepare all the needed materials and make sure they are sanitized. Here are the things you will be needing: garden gloves, hand trowel, garden knife, a container with saucer, pebbles, and potting mix. 
  2. Identify which sucker you will be detaching from the mother plant.
  3. While wearing your garden gloves, uproot the mother plant with the use of a garden trowel. This step is going to be messy so do it in an area that is easy to clean up.
  4. Once you have a clear view of the root system of the mother plant and the sucker, use a garden knife to carefully separate the two. Remember to not cut the main roots.
  5. Plant them in their respective containers by filling at least ¼ of the container with the potting mix before placing the plant on top. 
  6. Fill the container with more potting mix and lightly press on the sides of the basal part of the plant to secure it.
  7. Water the plant and make sure that it is draining properly.
Dypsis lutescens

Soil

In Madagascar, the dypsis species are known to grow in moist and humid forests and coastlands. The best thing to do is to mimic the soil that is present in this plant’s natural habitat. Although it can thrive in different soil types, it is best to grow it in loam soils with good drainage. Also, make sure that the soil is rich in organic matter. Furthermore, the best soil pH for this palm ranges from 5.5 to 6.5. 

If you are in doubt about the potting mix you have, you can always opt to do soil testing. There are a variety of home soil testing kits available in the market.

Pruning

This majestic palm grows faster than most indoor plants, so pruning may be needed more frequently. Also, some growers prefer to get rid of the suckers and focus on one main stem only, if that is the case, better nip it in the base around 2 inches above the ground. Avoid cutting it from the roots as the wound makes the plant susceptible to rot. The Areca palm will then have a more clean look as the individual stems are more exposed to the viewers.

When pruning the old leaves, cut 2-4 inches away from the trunk. The remaining part attached to the crownshaft will eventually turn brown and be easier to remove. The brown dried part can be peeled off once completely dry.

Repotting and Transplanting

If you are planting the Areca palm outdoors where there is enough space for it to grow and produce new sprouts, repotting will not be required as frequently as when it is planted in pots. In landscapes that are mostly covered with concrete, such as in malls or homes, it is advisable to plant these in pots or planter boxes. So, an important thing you need to do is choose the correct pot for your palm. Choose a container that will fit the roots of the palm and still have enough space to grow. In doing so, repotting will be lessened. 

However, there will come a time that your Areca palm tree will need more space as a vast growing plant. Here are the steps on how to repot your palm:

  1. Prepare all the materials needed, such as potting mix, a container with tray or saucer, pebbles, hand trowel, garden gloves, and some rope or ribbon. 
  2. When the foliage is too dense and pruning is out of the picture, use a rope or ribbon to loosely tie the fronds together. This will prevent the leaves from hitting your face as you transfer them to another container. This is an optional step and if you opt to do it, remember to remove the tie after the repotting process.
  3. Wear your garden gloves and use the hand trowel to loosen up the soil-bound to the old pot. You may shake the plant around to make it easier to uproot.
  4. Get the new pot and saucer. Put pebbles on the tray or saucer to help in moisture control. 
  5. Fill in ¼ of the pot with soil mix and transfer the plant. Place the plant gently in the middle of the container and fill in the gaps with more potting mix.
  6. Water the plant until you see the water drain properly from the container.
  7. Follow the care requirements.
areca palm

How to Care for Areca Palms

Here are some Areca palm care tips you can follow:

Water

As a container plant, this palm will be more susceptible to waterlogging and rotting if not taken care of properly. To prevent the mentioned problems, three major elements need to come into play, container type, soil, and moisture. Since the first two were already discussed, moisture is the main topic in this section. 

The Areca palm plant likes to be watered but not too much. The best way to know when it is time for watering is when a few inches of the topsoil is dry. To determine whether it is dry or not, stick your finger a few inches into the soil. Some people do not want their fingers to get dirty, so they use wooden sticks to see if the soil is still moist.

Sunlight

The Areca palm plant is a tropical plant and loves to have as much light as possible. The fastest growth is noticeable with full sun, but not all households can provide such exposure. Don’t worry, this palm is versatile and can thrive in partial shade, dappled light, or indirect bright light. 

If you are unsure where this plant should go inside your house, determine which room gets enough light in the morning. Once done, place the plant in that room near a window to get the exposure it needs. Grow lights may also be used, and there is a variety of them in the market. Choose one that will mimic the light Areca would require.

Temperature and Humidity

In terms of temperature, the coldest temperature the butterfly palm can handle is 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, it can withstand up to 88 degrees Fahrenheit or 31 degrees Celsius, which is the case in most outdoor tropical landscapes.

In terms of the best humidity for Areca palms, around 40 to 60% relative humidity is the way to go. Having said this, some growers who plant this palm in areas wherein it gets really dry in winter opt for misting. Misting the plant a few times will help keep the humidity at favorable levels. Some opt to buy their plant its humidifier. These practices prevent humidity-related problems.

Along with the temperature and humidity, air circulation also plays a vital role in the growth of this plant. It is essential especially during the times when it is too humid, meaning there is too much moisture in the air. The best way to do this is by cracking a window open for quite some time to have that air circulation going.

Fertilizer

Potted house plants tend to have fewer sources of nutrients. Hence, it is vital to feed your plants regularly. In general, a diluted complete fertilizer or slow-release fertilizers will suffice. However, if you want to be sure, performing a soil test will be of great help. There are various soil test kits available in the market, and they often come in easy-to-understand pamphlets. After doing the test, there are recommendations in the pamphlet, as to what you would need to provide for your plant.

Feed them at least every 2 to 3 months, especially during the growing seasons. 

Pest and diseases

Similar to other indoor plants, this palm is susceptible to mealy bugs, aphids, and spider mites. These insects are common for household plants, meaning they can jump from one plant to another. The best way to avoid the spread is by early detection, which can be achieved by regularly checking your plants for any signs of infestation. If you see some white dust-like structures underneath the leaves or near the petioles, it is best to isolate the plant from the others and treat it. There are insecticides soaps available that are safe for household use.

Some growers make their concoction by mixing warm water and mild soap or dishwashing liquid. They use this mixture to wipe the leaves or the infested parts of the plant. This process is repeated as needed. Another remedy you can use to protect your plant is Neem oil. There are different forms of it available and it can be sprayed or wiped. It provides a coating for your plant that not only protects it but also gives it a clean and glowing appearance.

Another frequently encountered problem is brown tipping. From the name itself, it means that the tips of the leaflets are turning brown because of various reasons. The main culprits behind this are humidity and temperature. Brown tipping usually happens during too hot or too cold days with dry air. The easy fix for this is through trimming the brown parts and providing a more humid environment for your palm. As mentioned before, it may be achieved by misting or providing a humidifier.

Common Species and Varieties

The Dypsis genera contain more than 100 species of palms. Surely, one of which will pick your interest. Some of the worth mentioning Dypsis varieties and species are the following:

  • Dypsis decaryi- This species is also known as the triangle palm and is famous for its triangular leaf arrangement. It can even grow up to 20 feet and bears black fruits. In some areas, the said fruit is utilized as an alcoholic beverage.
  • Dypsis utilis- the main characteristic of this palm is its light pink crown and a light brown body. 
  • Dypsis lanceolata- what makes this palm stand out are the rings on its trunk resembling the bamboos.
  • Dypsis sp. ‘Chamaedorea’- this variety is known for its broad leaves with wavy leaf margins. It also resembles the Chamaedorea genus because of its leaves.
  • Dypsis sp. ‘Black Mealy Bug’- this variety has a unique appearance during its immature stages. It got its name from the markings on its crown that look like a black mealybug.

These are only 5 of the most notable species and varieties of the Areca palm. Although, there are a few species that are endangered. To know more about the Dypsis species, read the 16 Types of Areca Palm You Need to Know.

Conclusion

Having a plant that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional is already hard to find. However, the Areca palm rose to the occasion and gave us the two and more. It has a robust growth habit, and medium maintenance is needed. It can also be grown indoors and outdoors. Although there are modifications to be done, the care for growing it indoors and outdoors is relatively the same. There is no question that this palm will need a bit more attention when grown in containers than outdoors. 

Remember the key things you need to know in growing this indoors. Choose a container with holes in the bottom for good drainage. Then, combine it with a good potting mix with good drainage and water holding capacity. Also, provide water when the soil is slightly dry. For the humidity, misting is the key, and place it near windows or doors. Proper placement will help the Areca palm get the light it needs and ample air circulation.

As a responsible grower, always check on your plant and listen to what it wants. These practices will vary depending on the type of pal you would choose to grow. So, choose wisely and keep this article bookmarked for future references.

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