Brown Spots on Areca Palm Leaves [6 ways to Fix]

Areca Palms are great houseplants. In the right conditions, an areca palm can be low maintenance. Sometimes, however, they can develop brown spots or brown leaf tips which are unsightly and usually an indication of an underlying problem. These brown leaves, spots, and tips can be caused by one of six problems:

Why brown spots on areca palm leaves? Areca palms can develop brown spots on their leaves or brown leaf tips because of an incorrect watering schedule (overwatering, underwatering, highly chlorinated water), low humidity, frequent or unnecessary repotting, over-fertilization, insufficient light, or a pest infestation.

9EzTropical - Kentia Palm - 1 Plant - 4 Feet Tall - Ship in 3 Gal Pot

If brown spots or tips have formed on your areca palm, don’t give up on it. With some information, you will be able to diagnose the cause of the brown spots or tips, correct the problem, and get your areca palm back to being a beautiful and healthy house plant that will produce a flush of new leaves to improve the look of your plant.

What Causes An Areca Palm To Yellow Or Form Brown Spots?

There are some common reasons for the leaves of an areca palm to brown, develop brown spots or tips or to yellow. These reasons are easily treatable and knowing the underlying cause of the problem is the first step in correcting it:

Common problems:Identifiers:How to fix the problem
1. Water Problems:
Soil too wet and/or root rotBrown spots on leavesAscertain the reason the soil is not drying out as needed, then: Increase the number of drainage holes in the pot to allow better water runoff. Swap the pot for a smaller one which will hold the plant up but not take too long to dry sufficiently. Water only when the top 1-2 inches of soil has dried out. Move the pot to a spot with more direct sunlight. Do not water again until it is just moist before watering again. In the case of root rot, replace the soil and do not overwater/allow the pot to stand in water.
Lack of waterYellow leaves, brown tips, brown spotsWater while allowing adequate drainage. Put a watering schedule in place. [How Often Should A Newly Planted Areca Palm Be Watered?]
Over chlorinated waterBrown tipsUse rain or filtered water to water your areca palm. Leave water out for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate before watering.
Other common problems:
2. Cold draft and/or Dry environmentYellow leaves, brown leaves, brown tipsMove the plant to a warmer and more protected place indoors. Slow down the loss of water from the leaves by increasing the humidity. This can be done by grouping houseplants together, using a humidity tray, or using a humidifier. Spraying water directly on the leaves is usually less effective.
3. Nutrient buildupYellow leaf spotsFlush the soil by watering well and allowing the water to drain. Only fertilize the soil during the growing months to allow the roots to absorb the nutrients and prevent a buildup. In extreme cases replace the soil with a balanced soil mix.
4. Insufficient lightBrown tips, brown leavesMove to a brighter area (but not into filtered light), preferably near a north-facing window.
5. Unnecessary or frequent repottingYellowing leaves, brown tips, brown spotsBroken roots will not absorb water and nutrients as efficiently so only repot when necessary. Areca palms do well when ‘potbound’, plant in a round pot to ensure roots coil.
6. PestsBrown tips, brown leaves, sooty moldMealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites all cause a sooty mold to grow on stems and leaves of plants, this leaves the areca palm open to further infection. Use an insecticide or other insect removal technique and rinse the moldy leaves thoroughly.

First identify what the indicator is on the palm, then use the above list to check and implement the best solution. Keep a close eye on your areca palm over a few weeks during the growing months to see that the plant health is improving and the problem is not returning.

Brighter Blooms - Areca Palm Tree - The Most Popular Indoor Palm Tree (3-4 ft.)

Check out, Can you grow areca palm from cuttings?

Four Top Tips To Care For Your Areca Palm

Like all house plants, areca palms have a specialized set of requirements. If your palm is to thrive, check the following to ensure it has the best chance of doing so.

  • All palms need a good amount of bright, filtered sunlight to thrive, place your areca palm near north and west-facing windows.
  • The areca palm is originally from Madagascar, which has a warm and often moist climate, recreate this with moisture levels at a minimum of 40% to prevent brown tips and drooping leaves.
  • Areca palms do not tolerate over-wet or dry soil. The areca palm thrives in soil that never becomes soggy or is completely dry. Monitor the moisture of the plant and only water when the soil is partly dry, taking care not to overwater or allow the pot to stand in water.
  • Anareca palm only requires occasional feeding with fertilizer, as part of this feeding, flush the soil when necessary to stop nutrient build-up.

AMERICAN PLANT EXCHANGE Areca Palm Tree Live Plant, 10" Pot, Air Purifying Indoor Houseplant

Read Is Areca Palm Toxic To Rabbits And Cats?

What Are The Best Conditions For Growing An Areca Palm?

Areca palms require good, unfiltered light, well-drained soil, moisture-reducing pots, and clean water.

The recommended soil for areca palms is well-draining soil that does not hold a lot of moisture. Ideally, this potting mix should be peat-based with added perlite. This mix is a lighter medium and will support good root growth.

Peat will hold enough moisture without becoming soggy. Do not let the plant sit in water.

The right soil will prevent brown spots and brown tips on an areca palm by ensuring a moist but well-drained growing environment. To keep your areca palm healthy, follow these practical watering tips:

  • Water more frequently in spring and summer than during fall and winter. The plant becomes dormant in the fall and winter months so will require less watering. Before watering, test the moisture levels of the soil to check for dryness.
  • Use clay and terracotta pots to plant your areca palm. These porous pots will allow moisture to evaporate quicker than plastic or metal pots but will help to keep the soil at the right moisture.
  • In addition to other harmful chemicals in water, areca palms are sensitive to chlorine and fluoride in tap water. It is recommended to leave water out in a wide-brimmed container for 24 hours before watering. In this time these harmful chemicals will evaporate from the water making the water safer for the plant.
  • Water thoroughly and heavily when watering is required to allow the full root system to get nourished.

AMERICAN PLANT EXCHANGE Areca Palm Real Live Houseplant, 3G Pot 28-32" Tall, Vibrant Green

Related Plant articles:


Areca palms are a popular houseplant. They are popular because of their color and beautiful fronds that often resemble bamboo. They are a popular choice when filling a larger space because they can grow to about 6 ft. tall depending on their pot size, making them a firm favorite among many homeowners, but they require good, unfiltered light, well-drained soil, moisture-reducing pots, and clean water.

If there is a problem with one of these the palm may suffer from yellowing or brown leaves, brown spots, and discoloration on the leaves or brown tips on the leaves which makes the aesthetic of the plant less desirable. There is usually an easy fix to each of the six most common causes of brown leaves, spots, and tips on an areca palm.