Areca Palm Leaves Turning Yellow

There’s nothing like a lush areca palm to bring a tropical vibe to your living room and landscape. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, the areca palm leaves turn yellow. Fortunately, the yellowing leaves indicate that the plant needs help, and you can come to the rescue.

Yellowing leaves occur as a result of a process known as chlorosis. The good news is that it can be remedied by addressing:

  • Drainage and watering frequency
  • Root damage and compacted roots
  • Soil pH
  • Nutrients

By taking the proper steps, you can quickly remedy yellow leaves and prevent their return

Most yellow leaves can be traced back to one of these causes and are pretty easily identifiable. If you’re uncertain of which of the following might be causing your yellowing leaves, continue reading to identify and solve the problem.

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Areca Palm Overview

The areca palm is a beautiful palm variety that thrives indoors and out. Here is a quick overview of the plant:

  • Origin: Madagascar
  • Family: Arecaceae
  • Scientific name: Dypsis lutescens
  • Type: Evergreen palm
  • Common names: Bamboo palm, Areca palm, Golden cane palm, Butterfly palm
  • Ideal temperature: 65° F (18 °C) and 75° F (24 °C)
  • Light requirements: Bright, indirect light
  • Watering: Allow soil to dry out between waterings
  • Humidity: Moderate
  • Toxicity: Not poisonous to dogs, cats, humans

Planting And Care

Taking care of your areca palm is easy if you know the conditions it likes to live in. This can be a lengthy process, but hopefully, you’ll be able to remedy this after reading through this article!

Planting Instructions

The areca palm is primarily grown as a houseplant. When potting an areca palm, choosing a pot with drainage holes and using a well-draining soil type is vital.

Here is a quick summary of how to take care of your areca:

Like many household plants, they don’t like to sit in soggy soil. Overwatering or poorly draining soil can result in root damage, chlorosis, and, ultimately, yellowing leaves.

When it comes to light conditions, the areca palm likes to be placed in bright, indirect sunlight — it’s best to place them near a south or west-facing window. If you put them in direct sunlight, the tips of the leaves are likely to turn yellow and eventually brown.

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And finally, since the palm is a natively tropical plant, they don’t respond well to cold drafts or sudden drops in temperatures, so avoid placing them in dry and drafty areas.

Check out, Is Areca Palm Toxic To Rabbits And Cats?

Areca Palm Leaves Turning Yellow

Here are a few reasons why your Areca palms turning yellow and how to fix it.

1. Watering Frequency And Drainage

Areca palms require regular watering. Avoid overwatering the plant as it could result in root rot and yellowing leaves due to chlorosis.

It’s recommended that you keep your areca palm’s soil slightly moist during the spring and summer months. During fall and winter, let the soil dry out between waterings.

Fertilizing this palm is not a necessity. However, if you choose to fertilize, it can help the areca palm to grow faster. It may also add required nutrients to the soil.

If you decide to fertilize, it’s recommended that you use a slow-release fertilizer three to four times a year (i.e., try to fertilize every quarter).

2. Root Damage And Compacted Roots

Fortunately, the likelihood of this plant having root damage or problems due to compacted roots isn’t very likely.

The plant does well when it is pot-bound, and therefore doesn’t need to be re-potted as frequently.

The areca palm generally has a life span of 10 years, and many owners get away with not re-potting it in its lifetime. However, if you find that the soil isn’t of the best quality, you can get away with repotting the palm once every three years.

The areca palm is generally potted in clumps and form their own clumps as they continue to grow. If you choose to re-pot it, you have to be super careful not to disturb the roots too much.

Also, be sure to select a pot that is one size larger than the current one you’re using and to bury the rootball at the same depth as in the previous pot.

Re-potting the plant into some fresh soil can be a great help if you’re experiencing any yellowing or browning of the leaves. This is most likely due to salt and fluoride buildup.

For the new soil, you can either use palm-specific potting soil or mix builders sand into your standard houseplant potting soil at a 1:3 ratio.

3. Soil Nutrients And pH

Soil nutrients and pH is something that can easily be managed with the right products. While it isn’t often the case, the pH of your potted areca palm may be in excess.

The pH of your soil directly influences the way a plant absorbs nutrients. Therefore, the nutrient availability changes as the pH of the soil increases or decreases.

Most palms thrive in a neutral pH (between the range of 6.0 to 8.0). If the pH is off, your palm may continue to exhibit yellowing leaves.

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When yellowing leaves happen in a situation where the pH is ideal, your plant may be nutrient deficient. If you suspect that your areca palm may experience nutrient deficiencies, then proper soil with a slow-release fertilizer mixed in may be ideal.

You can identify some of the most common deficiencies with these guidelines:

  • Nitrogen deficiency — General yellowing, the older inner leaves will turn yellow first and progress to the newer outer leaves.
  • Potassium deficiency — The edges of the leaves will turn bright yellow while the inner leaves remain green; the leaf tips may also turn brown.
  • Magnesium deficiency — This will start as yellow patches between the leaf veins on older leaves; the leaf edges will be the last to turn yellow.
  • Iron deficiency — Much like a magnesium deficiency, an iron deficiency will also show as yellowing between the leaf veins; instead of old leaves, it will affect the new ones first.
  • Sulfur deficiency — Starts with the newest leaves turning them yellow throughout.

4. Light Requirements

The areca palm requires a lot of bright light but no direct sunlight. Due to its dependency on light, many plant-parents struggle to find a suitable spot for it.

If the plant is exposed to too much direct light, the tips of the leaves will turn yellow, and eventually brown.

Choosing a windowsill with lots of natural daylight will be best, and if necessary, you can also filter more direct light by using sheer curtains or a blind. They also bode well under grow lights if you have them at your disposal.

5. Humidity And Temperature

As mentioned before, the areca palm strives in warm and humid environments. It usually does well in standard home temperatures — between 65° F (18 °C) and 75° F (24 °C).

To prevent the tips of the areca palm from browning, it’s best to keep it away from drafty windows and doors.

As for humidity, although the plant strives in more humid temperatures, the plant will do fine in most houses. If you experience dry air, increasing the humidity will prevent brown leaf tips from occurring. 

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Other than misting the leaves at regular intervals, you can also place the palm on a tray filled with water and pebbles; as the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity around the plant. Just be sure not to place the pot in water, as this will increase the chances of root rot.

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Conclusion

As fussy as they are, areca palms act as a lovely green feature to any house. While it may be intimidating, the yellowing leaves happen to many palm owners. Just be sure that your areca palm is rooted in well-draining soil, watered at frequent intervals (but not overwatered), and that it avoids cold, dry, and drafty airways. 

The plant will also benefit by being placed in a higher humidity area and from quarterly fertilization with a slow-release fertilizer. Here’s to wishing your palm a quick recovery and many green (yellow leaf-free) years ahead!