Areca palm getting dry – Causes and Fixes

Areca palms are pretty easy to grow if you have suitable conditions. These palms require a specific amount of water to thrive and may turn yellow or brown when these requirements aren’t adequately met. But how can you tell if it is drying out?

The easiest way to revive the palm is to determine the primary stressor and remedy the problem as soon as possible. Some of the most common problems include over and underwatering, insufficient light, low humidity, hard water, pests, and unnecessary repotting.

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The areca palm can be saved if it is properly tended to. Fix the hydration and light requirements, and you can aid the plants’ recovery process. So, let’s have a look at what you can do to help your palm return to its former tropical glory.

Why Areca palm getting dry

Let us check out the top 6 reasons and fixes for why areca palm getting dry.

Problem #1: Over or Underwatering

Most plants’ main problem arises in the amount of water it receives. Plants like the Peace Lily require water more frequently, while something like a cactus can survive months without any.

The areca palm falls between these two and requires frequent watering with adequate time between waterings to dry out.

If you’re overwatering your areca palm, you’re essentially drowning your plant and depriving it of its oxygen supply. Underwatering, on the other hand, results in depriving the plant of its life source.

Here is how to correctly water your areca palm:

On average, you’ll need to water the areca palm tree about once every one to two weeks.

Something to be mindful of is the time of the year — winter months will require less frequent watering while summer months will demand more.

You also want to consider the size of the plant and the environment in which the plant is placed.

You essentially want to make sure that you thoroughly water the plant and wait for the soil to dry out between waterings. The soil should ideally be moist at all times.

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Problem #2: Insufficient Light

Areca palms do best in bright, indirect light and can tolerate a tiny bit of shade. They are known for being medium light plants that grow beneath the canopy of larger trees and it’s for this reason that they enjoy bright, but indirect sunlight.

If you want to prevent the leaves from forming brown tips and drying out, then you want to avoid direct sunlight.

The same can be said about too low-light. Low light conditions will result in the plant not being able to sustain its greenery and die back.

Areca palms need a warm room – ideally around 18°-24°C, with a minimum of 10°C in winter. Also, remember to keep them away from draughts.

Here is where to place your areca palm:

Place your areca palm away from any gusts of wind and breezy windows – a surface close to a closed window will do best.

Keep it out of direct sunlight by either placing it further away from a window, or by filtering the sunlight with a blind or sheer curtain.

These palms usually do best when you place them near an east or west facing window with either soft morning light, or late afternoon light. If you have your Areca palm in a north or south facing room you want to place it as close to the window to maximize available light.

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Problem #3: Low Humidity

Areca palms are more forgiving than most indoor palms when it comes to humidity. You ideally want to aim to keep the humidity above 40% to prevent brown tips and dry leaves.

Here is how you can increase the humidity around your areca palm:

You can increase the humidity by using a humidity tray (a tray filled with small pebbles and water), grouping your houseplants together (the plants all release moisture through transpiration and create their own microclimate when grouped together), or by using a humidifier.

Misting your Areca palm is ultimately useless, as it only provides a very short-lived increase in localized humidity.

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Problem #4: Hard Water

Many indoor plants are quite sensitive to the type of water used on them, since many treatment facilities add chlorine to tap water to ensure that it is safe to drink.

While this is perfectly safe for humans, some indoor plants can be sensitive to the chlorine content found in the water. The chlorine could cause brown tips on your Areca palm.

Fluoride causes a similar problem in Areca Palms, but not all tap water has significant quantities of fluoride present. It’s usually only present in your water when you have underlying rock formations in your borehole or natural spring. 

Here is how you can ensure you water your Areca palm with the right water:

  1. To find your latest water quality report, you can usually contact your water supplier or check their website to find that information. The report usually covers the exact concentrations of a whole range of minerals and chemicals present in the water.
  2. If you see that your water has a high chlorine count, then you can leave your tap water in a sunny spot for 24 hours. This will allow the chlorine to react with the water and eliminate it almost entirely.
  3. You can plant your Areca palm in slightly acidic soil (a pH between 6.0 – 6.5) to prevent fluoride absorption.
  4. Use rainwater and distilled water whenever possible.

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Problem #5: Pests

Areca palms are prone to pests like mealybugs, scale, and spider mites. All of these bugs will feed on the plant which will result in brown tips and leaves.

It’s super important to check for pests on your Areca palm when you spot any brown leaves or stems.

If you do find bugs, you want to treat them immediately.

Here is how you can get rid of the most common pests on your Areca palm:

Mealybugs

  • Identify it:

If your plant looks like it is covered with snow or if the leaves have some white spots.

  • Remove it:

Dip cotton balls and swabs in alcohol and remove all visible mealybugs.

Use balls to clean the leaves and swabs to clean inside the gaps.

Then, mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with a few drops of dish soap and 1 quart water. Pour the solution into the spray bottle and spray your whole plant.

Repeat the treatment once or twice a week until the issue is gone.

Scale

  • Identify it:

Most scale insects are very small, usually ranging in size from 1/16 to 1/8 inch long. Scale almost always appears in clusters and are immobile once they start feeding on your plant.

  • Remove it:

The easiest way to remove scale is by pruning away the infected leaves and throw them away in the trash.

You can also use the same mixture as with the mealybugs to spray down the leaves of your palm, followed by a  swab of a cottonball.

Another way to remove scale is by using horticultural oils or neem oil onto your palm. Both these will kill the scale as well as its larvae.

Spider mites

  • Identify it:

The plant will look like it has tiny webbings over it and the leaves will feel like they are covered with “fine sand” when you touch them.

  • Remove it:

Remove leaves that are heavily infested and clean the plant with the same solution as used for the mealybugs.

Spray both sides of leaves well and wipe them off with a paper towel.

Repeat the treatment once or twice a week until the spider mites are gone.

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Problem #6: Unnecessary Repotting

The Areca palm enjoys being pot-bound, and therefore doesn’t require repotting on a frequent basis. If you absolutely have to repot the palm, once every five years should be fine.

Every time you choose to repot the palm, the roots will become damaged and disrupt the ability of the palm to effectively absorb water and nutrients. This will cause the tips and leaves of the Areca palm to dry out and turn brown.

Conclusion

There you have it, the top 6 problems that you can solve to prevent your Areca palm from drying out. It essentially comes down to solving some of the most common problems which include over and underwatering, insufficient light, low humidity, hard water, pests, and unnecessary repotting.

Address these and you’ll see your Areca palm strongly on its way to recovery!

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