If you need something bigger than a small plant to cover a corner or become a focal point in a room, consider the areca palm.
They come with lovely foliage that looks just like those of large palm trees outside. But, you can grow them in containers to limit their size.
This allows you to enjoy them as houseplants. Or keep them in your patio and deck.
To learn more about the areca palm and how to care for it, keep reading.
About Areca Palms
The areca palm goes by many names among them include the golden cane palm and feather palm. But, however way you call it, it’s one of the best looking large houseplants you can add to your home.
This is why it’s very popular with homeowners.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this plant is its beautiful, narrow green fronds. Each of which filled with about 80 to 100 leaflets.
After that, you’ll likely realize its size. These get to about 6 to 10 feet indoors, with many of them stopping between 6 to 7 feet tall.
But, they’re much taller outside reaching anywhere from 12 to 30 feet in height.
The good news is, you can grow them either way. The only condition is that they don’t like cold climates. As such, you’re limited to growing them in containers if you live in areas where the winters are snowy.
This is why you’ll mostly find them inside homes. And, when you do, they make excellent focal points thanks to their size and attractive looks.
That said, they can be challenging to grow indoors because they require bright, indirect light and they’re susceptible to fertilizer salts.
This is why it’s a good idea to keep them in warm, well-lit rooms, preferably with white walls that allow light to bounce from them.
Areca Palm Care
The areca palm is a little bit tricky to grow indoors mainly because it needs a good amount of light. In general, it enjoys bright, indirect light.
But, because of its size, it’s not always easy to get it close to the opening of a window like you can with smaller houseplants.
Similarly its size means that it’s hard to allow light to cover all areas of the plant.
That said, the west and south-facing windows are good options as long as you keep it from intense direct sunlight.
Too much direct sunlight can turn its leaves yellowish green. And, if you leave it long enough during the hottest times of the year or during mid-afternoons, it may even burn its leaves.
Temperature & Humidity
Being native to South India and Madagascar, the areca palm is used to tropical climates. As such, providing it with warm, humid conditions allows it to thrive.
This makes it ideal for zones 10 and 11. Although you can better control the environment indoors.
If you do so, you can keep the thermostat between 60 and 75 degrees. It won’t mind if the temperature rises above that. But, you and your family may not enjoy the heat.
More importantly, it’s key not to let put them where the temperature does below 60 degrees. This is especially true if you bring it out for the summer. Make sure to take the plant back indoors once the weather starts to cool.
Similarly, keep it away from cold drafts from windows as well as air conditioners.
When it comes to your areca palm, you want to be very careful with overwatering. Much like other houseplants, allowing them to get waterlogged, or sit in water can be catastrophic.
As such, it’s a good idea to keep track of how moist the soil is.
During the spring and summer, give your areca palm frequent but light waterings. When fall and winter arrive, wait for the potting soil to dry out a bit before watering again.
From above, you already know that well-draining soil is key to keeping your areca palm from holding too much moisture.
In addition to that, it enjoys soil that’s slightly acidic to neutral. And, one that’s rich in organic matter.
So, the key is to use potting soil that’s a combination of something like peat which holds nutrients and moisture along with a well-draining material.
This allows your plant to stay moist during the spring and summer without the risk of getting waterlogged.
The areca palm is a heavy feeder. Along with being able to provide it with enough bright, indirect light indoors, this is another challenge.
That’s because it is vulnerable to fertilizer salts. Thus, it’s a good idea to repot the plant even when it hasn’t outgrown its container in order to refresh the soil and get rid of the fertilizer salt build-up.
Also, it’s worth noting that if your plant isn’t a fan of fluoride in water. Thus, you’ll need to use filtered or distilled water for it.
When it comes to feeding, you’ll want to give it the nutrients it needs during the spring. A time-release fertilizer works well for this.
Come summer, make sure it gets micronutrients as well as magnesium and iron.
You can then back off and not feed in during fall and winter.
In general, palms don’t tolerate pruning well. However, the areca palm is one of the few exceptions to that. This allows you to keep its size manageable indoors.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t trim the brown tips of its fronds. Otherwise, this will prevent it from growing.
The only time you should do so is when the frond is dead.
One of the biggest downsides to growing areca palms is that they’re not easy to propagate at home. Thus, while they respond well to division, it’s not feasible for home gardeners to try it.
As such, the only option you’re left with is to plant them by seed if you want to propagate them.
In general, you can expect to repot your areca palm every 2 to 3 years. It’s a relatively slow grower. And, it does well even when root-bound. So, there’s no real hurry on your part to keep moving it to a larger pot.
But, when you do so, put them in a container that’s 2 to 4 inches wider than the previous pot.
That said, it’s important to understand that you need to get there first.
While areca palms can live 10 or more years, they may not do so indoors. The biggest reason is lighting.
This is why it’s essential to place them somewhere they’re able to receive bright, indirect light.