Indoor Areca Palm: Yellow Leaves

Overview

The areca palm can be grown indoors or outdoors. A tropical plant, it's generally hardy and adapts easily to varying conditions. However, growers often face a common problem: the yellowing of leaves or fronds. Unfortunately, the yellow represents permanent damage, and the only fix is to trim off the discolored leaves or fronds.

The Wrong Kind of Water

Areca palms are sensitive to salts and minerals, which they absorb from the water that comes in contact with their roots. If hard water comes out of your faucet, then don't use it to water your areca palm. Instead, collect rainwater outdoors or buy salt- and mineral-free bottled water to quench the plant's thirst. The soil should be kept moist, but not soggy, because areca palms are prone to root rot.

Not Enough Water

Areca palms are quite tolerant of drought. If you forget to water the plant, it will wilt dramatically, but all it takes is a little water to put the bounce back in its leaves. The color, however, is a different matter. The foliage of areca palms yellows when it wilts, and it can't be brought back to its former green glory. The best thing to do is remove the yellowed fronds and leaves---and try to remember to water your palm more frequently in the future.

Too Much Sun

Just as the sun can burn human skin, it can burn the leaves of the areca palm and cause them to turn yellow. While areca palms need medium to high light exposure, it's possible to get too much of a good thing. Glass doors and windows are suitable locations for areca palms, but in the ideal setting, direct sunlight is filtered through a translucent blind or curtain.

Being Bugged

The spider mite is the pest most likely to plague an areca palm. Insect infestations can cause chlorosis, which Webster's New World College Dictionary defines as "an abnormal condition of plants in which the green parts lose their color or turn yellow as a result of a lack of chlorophyll production." Spider mites look like tiny dots attached to the underside of the leaves. If you find them, then treat the plant with a commercial pest remover or miticide (available at home and garden stores).

Getting Old

If you've optimized your plant's growing conditions and still see yellow leaves, it may just be that your plant has seen better days. Plants age just like people, and unfortunately, plants show their age in their appearance, too, particularly in the bottom fronds. Unfortunately, Botox can't help here. You basically have three choices: accept the yellow, trim it off, or replace the plant altogether.

Keywords: areca palm, yellowing leaves, yellow palm leaves

About this Author

Christine Pingleton has been working in the publishing industry since 1981, and has authored hundreds of articles for national magazines, from "Business Software Review" to "Trap and Field," as well as various websites, including working as a site guide for About.com. She is currently employed as an editor for Wiley Publishing's "For Dummies" books. She earned a journalism degree from Ball State University.

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