The Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens), also called butterfly palm, is popular as a houseplant, especially in climate zones that are too cold for it to grow outdoors year round. This palm is native to Madagascar and forms multiple bamboo-like stalks from a common base, giving it a bushy, feathery touch of greenery for indoor settings. It helps increase indoor oxygen and purifies the air. The Areca palm grows quickly and is relatively easy to care for, but it can sometimes suffer from attacks by certain insects or develop diseases.
Place your Areca palm in an indoor area that receives filtered sunlight or bright indirect light because the fronds can become burned when the sun is intense. If you keep it near a window that faces east, south or west the conditions should be suitable. Keep a bamboo blind over large windows where strong sunlight enters.
Water your Areca palm on a regular basis, perhaps once a week during its active summer growing season, but do not allow the soil to remain wet or soggy. Check the soil moisture by poking your finger into the soil about 1 inch. Keep the soil mostly dry during winter because root rot can often occur. Areca palms benefit from a daily mist of water, which increases the humidity.
Keep the temperature in the room where your Areca palm lives above 20 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. Your palm tree will thrive when the temperature is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be fine if the nighttime temperature drops 5 to 10 degrees lower. Keep your palm out of cold drafts and do not locate it near a heat source.
Fertilize your Areca three times each year, starting in early spring and repeating your application in June and again in August. Use a granular fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. Dilute the product and apply it according to label instructions. Wait until after you water your palm and do not fertilize when the soil is dry. Also, do not overfertilize because this practice can result in the plant's death.
Trim off entire fronds when they become yellow or brown.
Spray your Areca palm with insecticidal soap if aphids or spider mites attack. If you check for insects every two weeks, you can begin your treatment early and avoid large problems later. Watch for ants, which do not harm your palm tree but carry aphids and other sucking insects to the plant, and feed from their excretions.
Prevent common diseases such as Ganoderma bud rot by keeping the soil of your palm moist but not soggy. This disease causes older fronds to wilt, droop and turn brown. Unfortunately, no cure exists for this disease--you must destroy your palm if it becomes infected. Dispose of the soil in which it grew.