Areca Palm Dying – Causes and Fixes

Areca palms are beautiful indoor plants and with the right conditions and watering schedule, they are usually easy to grow and maintain. Like all indoor plants, however, they have some basic requirements to thrive. If one or more of these requirements are not met they may begin to die.

Why Areca Palm Dying? One or more of the following indicators are a sign that an Areca palm is dying: yellowing fronds, brown spots on the leaves, leaf tips turning brown, or fronds drooping. Areca palms can often be revived from this state by identifying the cause of the issue and tending to it promptly.

Areca palms are hardy indoor plants and can usually be brought back to a healthy state if issues with the right amount of sunlight, pest control, and watering are corrected so that it can repair itself.

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The best way to get your areca palm thriving again is through information and swift action. With a few small changes suggested in this post, you will be nursing your areca palm back to health in no time.

The Most Common Causes Of Areca Palm Health Issues

Areca palms are usually placed in homes and offices because of their lovely green coloring, the size and shape of the plant which often gets to 5-6 ft. tall, and the fairly low maintenance of the plant.

So, an areca palm that is dying with yellowing fronds and brown leaves is immediately noticeable and has the opposite effect of what was desired.

The three main issues that cause an areca palm to die are incorrect watering, undesirable lighting, and pests.

Areca palms thrive when they are watered so that the soil is kept moist but not soggy, in good and bright indoor light but out of direct sunlight, and are free of pests.

To stop your areca palm dying, the first step is to identify which of these three, or a combination of them, could be the cause of the problems. All three of these causes are easy to correct!

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Is Incorrect Watering Causing My Areca Palm To Die?

An areca palm is native to Madagascar which is often humid and enjoys good rainfall so these palms are sensitive to the amount of water they receive.

Too much and the roots may begin to rot in the pot, stopping the plant itself from being able to get enough water and nutrients from the soil.

Ironically, it may seem like the plant isn’t getting enough water because the leaves turn brown but extra watering it more will only make it worse.

Areca palms require well-drained soils that hold just enough moisture and moderate watering, usually every three to four days depending on the heat and humidity of the environment, less in the cold months.

On the other hand, if the soil is too dry for extended periods of time the plant doesn’t get the water it needs and begins to die. If you are overwatering or underwatering your areca palm you need to correct this as soon as possible.

A good way to gauge if the soil is too moist or too dry is to stick a finger into the soil about 1-2 inches deep, if the soil there has moisture but is not soggy it is most likely the right moisture for the palm.

If it is too moist or soggy remove the pot from any standing water like in a drainage plate and allow the soil to drain completely and dry a little before watering again.

If the soil is too dry, water immediately by wetting all the soil in the pot and allowing it to drain off completely leaving the soil moist.

Take a note of the soil moisture every day until you are happy that the soil enjoys consistent moisture – not too dry and not soggy – for a few days. Develop a watering regime to keep it at this level.

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Is The Soil Killing My Areca Palm?

In some cases, the soil itself could be the cause of an areca palm dying. Soils that hold on to too much moisture or have a pH that is too high could harm to roots of the palm causing it to struggle.

For areca palms that are potted indoors, they require a peat-based potting mix that drains well. If the plant is outdoors an areca palm will do best in a rich, slightly acidic soil with very good drainage in the correct light conditions.

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil, 1.5 cu ft

Soils that balance good drainage while holding just enough moisture are recommended. To achieve this you may need to add sand and/or peat moss to improve porousness in the soil as well as lowering the pH of the soil. Consult soil specialists at nurseries and garden centers to advise on what s locally available for you.

Areca palms also require fertilizing as they are often heavy feeders. They require a liquid fertilizer from spring to early fall.

Do not feed during the late fall and winter, however, as areca palms go dormant over the colder months so adding anything to the soil will not benefit the plant.

Check out Areca Palm Leaves Turning Yellow

Is My Areca Palm Getting The Right Amount Of Light?

Areca palms thrive best indoors but not in direct sunlight. They prefer an indoor environment that receives a lot of light, but not direct sunlight and particularly not direct afternoon sunlight.

Place it near bright south- or west-facing window for best results. Placing the palm in harsh sunlight may cause individual leaves and fronds to brown and die and eventually the whole plant.

Harsh sunlight, particularly harsh afternoon sunlight can scorch the leaves of an areca palm, slowing the plant’s ability to photosynthesize well.

Often this scorching results in browning tips or brown splotches on the leaves themselves making the plant far less attractive. Choose a good and bright spot for the areca palm.

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Is A Lack Of Humidity Killing My Areca Palm?

Because the areca palm comes from tropical regions it is used to a lot of humidity. This means it doesn’t thrive well in environments where the humidity drops below 40%.

Dry air in your house or office, especially caused by air-conditioning, may result in Red Spider Mites and brown tips on the ends of the fronds. This can be alleviated in three ways:

  • For those with time to tend the plant it is useful to mist or spritz the leaves regularly
  • For a more hands-off approach, you may want to place a pebble tray under the pot and regularly fill this with water.
  • You may choose to group other pot plants with the areca palm to create natural humidity from the other plants.

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Conclusion

There are generally three main issues that cause an areca palm to die: incorrect watering, undesirable lighting, and pests.

To manage the amount of water in the soil it is good to test the moisture in the soil regularly using a finger, because areca palms prefer well-drained soil it is good to check the soil composition for moisture retention and drainage.

Choose the best lighting for your plant by selecting a spot that has good south- or west-facing light, but not in direct sunlight for extended periods.

Each of the issues that may be causing your areca palm to die is usually easy to fix, arm yourself with information and act quickly to get your plant back to health!

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