The areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens or Dypsis lutescens), also known as golden cane palm, produces long, graceful, feather-like fronds that curve at the apex. Reaching 20 to 30 feet tall in its native habitat, the areca palm tree typically remains much smaller when grown as a houseplant or garden specimen. Native to Madagascar, the tree requires a warm environment and can only tolerate spending winter outdoors in the southernmost areas of the United States. Elsewhere in the country, gardeners grow areca palm in containers. Adaptable to average household conditions, the tree makes a welcome addition to any indoor garden.
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Things you need
- Potting soil
- All-purpose fertiliser
Plant your areca palm in a container large enough to hold the tree's roots without crowding them. The container should have several drainage holes on the bottom to prevent standing water from accumulating. Fill the container with well-draining potting soil and plant the tree at the same level it was previously growing.
Water the tree thoroughly just after planting until water begins to exit the drainage holes on the bottom of the container. Wait about five minutes and pour or siphon off any excess water. The areca palm may develop root rot if allowed to stand in water. Continue watering the tree about twice a week or any time the soil feels dry to the touch.
Place your areca palm in an area that receives bright, indirect sunlight, such as a west- or south-facing window. The tree may benefit from spending time outdoors in a sunny location during the summer months, but bring it indoors again before temperatures drop in the fall. Protect areca palm from the harsh midday sun to prevent leaf burn.
Keep the tree in a warm spot where temperatures do not drop below -9.44 degrees Celsius at any time. If the temperature drops below this point, the tree may sustain permanent cold damage. For the best results, maintain a constant temperature of 18.3 to 26.7 degrees Celsius year-round, as the areca palm prefers warm growing conditions.
Feed your areca palm tree once a month from early spring through early fall using an all-purpose houseplant fertiliser diluted to half the strength recommended on the package. The tree's foliage may turn yellow if it's fertilised too often or if you use too much fertiliser. Do not feed the tree during the winter when it requires fewer nutrients and grows less actively.
Wipe down the tree's foliage with a warm, moist cloth about once a week to prevent the accumulation of dust and pests from congregating under the leaves. Dusty foliage attracts spider mites, which can cause serious damage to houseplants.
Tips and warnings
- Grow areca palm outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 through 11 only. Plant in moist, fertile, well-draining soil in an area that receives bright light or dappled shade. Water once a week or often enough to keep the soil slightly moist and feed once a month during spring through fall with an all-purpose garden fertiliser.
- Never water areca palm with cold water straight from the tap, as this may shock the tree. Always apply room temperature water or mix cold water with a little warm water to reach a tepid temperature before applying.
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