Areca Palm Tree

The Areca Palm Tree Is a Most Popular Plant

The Areca Palm tree is an ideal choice if one wants a plant that grows fast, is very attractive, and easy to maintain. The only drawback is that this tropical palm requires tropical conditions to grow. In the United States that means USDA zone 11, limiting it to parts of Florida, southern California, and Arizona as an outdoor plant. The plant is also found throughout the Caribbean area. Elsewhere it thrives as an indoor plant, so is available even to residents of Alaska, as long as they keep their residence or business adequately heated.


The Areca Palm tree is native to the island of Madagascar, which lies off the eastern coast of southern Africa. Though it still grows there in the wild, its domain is quite restricted and endangered. Consequently the vast majority of Areca Palms that exist today are under cultivation and used both in landscaping and as interior decorations. This palm tree is regarded by some as the most beautiful of all landscaping plants. Grown outdoors, it can attain a height of 20', though half that height is more common. It is often planted as a specimen tree, but can be planted in groups or planted as hedging or screens.

The Areca Palm tree is also known as the Butterfly Palm due to its graceful arching fronds. It is also called the Golden Cane Palm in that its trunk and stems when mature, turn yellow, and exhibit bamboo-like rings. A clustering tree, the Areca Palm branches out to a width of up to 10 feet. It spreads by forming new suckers at the base, and in doing so can become quite large. The top of the plant features feather-like fronds which curve upwards and are typically 6' long. The leaves are a yellow-green color and flowers and fruit form at the bottom of each frond. The flowers are yellowish white in color and the fruits, which are rather small, are yellow orange.

Propagating From Seeds - This tree is usually propagated form seeds. Preparing the seeds for planting can be a bit of a chore if they are not fresh, but once a plant is established it is very easy to maintain and care for. Seeds are set in the soil with the tops showing. Soil temperature needs to be in the 80 degree range, and the seeds will germinate in about 6 weeks. If the soil temperature is much lower, it can take up to 3 months for them to germinate. Even stored seeds must be kept at a temperature of around 75 degrees if they are to remain viable for planting.

Light And Water - While the palm requires plenty of light, it will also tolerate indirect sunlight or even partial shade, as long as it gets several hours of light each day. When placed indoors, it should be near a window. If it gets hot sunlight the leaves may become more yellowish, so it is best placed in a location where it gets plenty of light but not direct sunlight. The seedlings and young plants require regular watering, and the soil must not be allowed to dry out completely. More mature palms are somewhat drought tolerant, but still need frequent watering to be at their best. The roots should not be allowed to stand in water however or rot may set in. Water that has been run through a water softener is usually not good for an indoor plant. Using water from an outside faucet would be better if possible.

Pruning And Disease - The mature plant takes well to pruning, which may or may not be necessary, depending upon the shape and size desired. Dead branches and fronds need to be cut away, but it should be noted that if a live branch is pruned, it may stop growing. Brownish tips on the branches are considered normal, and not an indication that anything is wrong with the plant. The Areca Palm Tree is susceptible to spider mite invasion, particularly when grown indoors, and if spider mites are not kept under control they could eventually kill the plant. Leaf spot is the most common disease, and the plant is very sensitive to the Pink Rot fungus. If this fungus attacks the plant there is generally no cure, and the plant needs to be discarded before the fungus is allowed to spread to other plants. The major cause of Pink Rot is excessive watering so the condition is preventable.

Although extensive maintenance is not a requirement of this palm, proper maintenance will result in a log-lasting beautiful specimen.