The areca palm or butterfly palm is an indoor houseplant that’s relatively easy to care for, looks impressive and even cleans the air around you.
Of the three best-known indoor palms, the areca palm is the most challenging to grow, because it’s often over-watered. It’s recognisable by its narrow, numerous, full fronds arranged close to one another in neat, compact lines along the stems.
The areca palm is a popular indoor plant because of its air cleaning capabilities. When 50 plants were tested for their ability to filter the air around us, as well as their ease of care and the plants’ ability to add moisture to the surrounding atmosphere, the areca palm took first place, scoring highly in all categories.
Everything you need to know to grow a thriving areca palm
The right light
The areca palm will tolerate a spot that doesn’t receive any sunlight at all during the day and it will tolerate direct sun, but it doesn’t like excessive amounts of either. Very dark shady areas and constant direct sunlight need to be avoided. Therefore the best approach for this palm is a balance between the two, placing it in a really bright spot that receives no direct sunlight or only a small amount in the morning or evening.
In spring, summer and autumn, this palm gets thirsty, which means you need to water heavily and often during these seasons. In the ideal spot, watering could be restricted to twice a week.
That said, under-watering will be tolerated, but over-watering will be the end of your plant — to avoid killing your areca, ensure the surface soil has dried out before you water again.
Unfortunately humidity, or rather a lack of it, can be an issue. If you experience a lot of dry air in your home you may get red spider mites and brown tips might appear on the end of the fronds. The fix is to raise the humidity by misting the palm, using a pebble tray or by relocating the entire plant to somewhere more humid.
All that is needed is a general feed every month or so, except in winter.
Average warmth is required for growth, so make sure your palm is somewhere where the temperature is between 15°C and 25°C. Take care not to let it get any colder than 10°C.
Areca palms don’t like constant root disturbance so regular re-potting can cause damage. However, as they don’t grow very fast this isn’t something you should be doing often anyway. Once every couple of years is fine, although if you do manage to secure a really young plant, you might need to grow it on by repotting it once a year in spring until it reaches maturity. When you do repot your palm, normal potting soil is absolutely fine.