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areca palm leaves turning brown

Areca Palm Leaves Turning Brown: Causes And How To Fix The Browning Leaves

We all know that our houses might benefit greatly from a touch of tropical in them. Indoor plants have been around for a long time but sometimes a little touch of outdoors in the house adds a zing to your room in the best possible manner.

But how do we do this? Well, we can start with one of the primary forms of palms that can be brought into the house easily, the Areca Palms! These are the best and one of the easiest plants that can decorate your home.

Here is everything you need to know about them and what to do when your beloved plants come up with a case of brown leaves.

What do we know about Areca Palms?

Decorative Areca palm in interior of room

The Areca Palm goes by many names, including golden cane palm, yellow palm, butterfly palm, or bamboo palm. The plant also goes by the scientific name of Dypsis lutescens. This plant, native to Madagascar, has become quite famous for adding a special vibe to your home.

Though palm trees are available only in a limited outdoor range, once you look for them, you’ll start noticing areca palms in interiors everywhere, from offices to shopping malls.

They are easy to grow and their lush greenery even helps remove some toxins from the air. Also for all those pet lovers out there, these beauties are non-toxic to both dogs and cats.

The plant can thrive at home at temperatures between 16°C to 24°C but sudden, swift temperature changes might harm the plant and can lead to brown spots on the leaves.

These plants also grow taller than a lot of other indoor plants. You can expect them to grow to a height of 6 to 10 feet.

Be careful with the amount of water the plant receives because overwatering and not draining the soil properly is the easiest way to kill this tropical beauty. Plant in well-draining potting soil, in a pot with drainage holes.

The areca palm is a relatively slow-growing indoor plant and would like to be somewhat root-bound, so it should only require repotting every two or three years.

Caring for Areca Palms

When you grow areca palms outdoors, it is important to choose a planting site that has good drainage. Soggy soil will almost always end up in root rot. When you go forward with the houseplant option, a well-draining container is a must-have.

In terms of regular care, you need to water your plant as and when you feel the soil is drying out. In the case of keeping your outdoor palms healthy, it’s especially important to keep them hydrated during hot and dry seasons.

Indoor palms don’t tend to receive enough light unless they are placed near a very bright window. So, your plant will benefit from the occasional exposure to the sunlight when you bring them outdoors for a change.

You should feed both your indoor and outdoor palms throughout the growing season. These plants don’t need much in the way of pruning or trimming. Wait to remove any dying fronds until you see that they are mostly brown, as they still can play a role in photosynthesis.

Light

Outdoors, these plants are known to have an affinity for bright, filtered sunlight, but they also can tolerate full sun. Indoors, your areca plants will do best with bright light exposure from a south-facing or west-facing window. 

Water

Like most other palms, areca palms appreciate moist soil, but they are known to be sensitive to overwatering and cannot tolerate being waterlogged or sitting in a water-saturated potting mix. 

So it is necessary that you let the soil or potting mix dry out slightly between waterings. Areca palms also are sensitive to fluoridated water, so you should go ahead and use distilled water or collected rainwater.

How-to-apply-fertilizer-to-Areca-Palms

Temperature and Humidity

Indoors or outdoors, the plant is known to do its best in average temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It will do just fine planted in the garden in regions where outdoor temperatures don’t usually drop below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

When raised as an indoor plant, keep your green friend away from cold windows, air conditioners, and heat sources. And if you place potted plants outdoors during the summer months, be sure to bring them in the house before temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Exposure to sudden cold bursts can also cause dark spots to form on the leaves.

High humidity is a necessity when it comes to keeping an areca palm looking its best. The plant will get acclimated to normal indoor humidity. But if the air happens to be too dry, it is common for the leaf tips to turn brown.

Fertilizer

The areca palm is not like many other indoor plants and appreciates being fed properly and requires fertilizing from months of spring to early fall with a liquid fertilizer, following label instructions. 

Make sure that you don’t feed it during the late fall and winter because the plant is dormant during these months.

areca-palm-fertilizer

Areca Leaves turning brown

Although a wonderful and supposedly hardy indoor plant, the plant is still not invincible. The leaves of your plant might turn brown due to overwatering, underwatering, insufficient light, overfertilizing, fluoridated or chlorinated water, pests, low humidity, etc.

You must identify the cause is essential to help you fix the problem.

Overwatering

Areca Palms are not very forgiving when it comes to the plant being overwatered. If you let the plant is left to sit in waterlogged soil for long, root rot will set in. when this happens, the plant is unable to absorb the water and nutrients that it needs to grow and thrive, and you might notice brown tips, leading to brown leaves, and eventually browning of the entire foliage of your plant.

It is essential to plant these in well-draining soil. You can use a peat-based potting mix with added perlite to increase drainage. Use a pot that has enough space to prevent the pot from tipping over, but is not so large that the soil takes forever to dry out. 

Also, note that it is essential to plant an Areca Palm in a pot that has some drainage holes.

Bear in mind that the amount of light and heat that your plant is exposed to will decide how long the potting medium takes to complete. Try and water your Areca Palm thoroughly every time you drench the soil, to prevent fertilizer salt build-up.

Underwatering

The slip side of this coin is that insufficient water can also cause brown tips and leaves on your Areca Palm. The plants are known to like fairly moist, but not waterlogged soil like most other plants we know, and once the soil dries out, they will start displaying signs of stress.

The best way to avoid underwatering your Areca Palm is to have a regular habit of inspecting your houseplants. You can just walk around your home every few days, inspecting and looking at the plants to see if there are any signs of stress. 

Just know that this in no way means that you should go on a schedule for watering the plant, that will do more harm than good.

Observe the leaves closely and feel the soil, using the finger test, to determine whether your plant needs water, and forget about just using a watering schedule, as the watering needs of your plant tend to vary depending on the light, temperature, and season.

Insufficient Light

Areca-Palm

These plants are known to have a liking for the bright light that helps them grow and thrive well. Arecas are medium-light plant species that grow beneath the canopy of larger trees in nature. This is the exact reason why they like it when the light is bright, but not when it is direct.

Direct sunlight can end up scorching their leaves, but it usually is insufficient light that causes more problems. Low light conditions might result in the plant not being able to keep up its foliage and have brown tips and brown leaves on your Areca Palm as some of the leaves die back.

The best way to know whether or not your plant is getting sufficient light is to observe your plant over time. If you really that the room where you have been keeping your plant is not bright enough, it might be time you move it to a brighter location in your home.

These kinds of plants are known to do best near an east or west-facing window. A small amount of direct sunshine in the early morning or late afternoon works extremely well. 

In case of a south-facing room, ensure that your plant is placed well away from the window. In a north-facing room, you need to put the plant as close as possible to the window to maximize the available light.

Over-fertilizing 

We know that Areca palms are generally feed-loving plants. But this sometimes gives people the indication that they need way too much fertilizer. Applying fertilizer way too often or in too concentrated a form can end up in a fertilizer burn, which can end up showing as brown tips on your Areca Palm.

You can try fertilizing Areca Palms every two months during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, made up at half the concentration or as recommended in the instructions. 

As time goes on, fertilizer salts are known to build up in the potting soil, which can lead to the same problem, even though you may be correct in the application of the fertilizer. To prevent this, you can water the Areca Palm thoroughly, letting the water run through the potting media and out of the drainage holes.

Every few months, go on to flush the soil out more thoroughly, as this rinses excess fertilizer salts right out of the potting media and prevents this from becoming an issue which can result in brown tips on your Areca Palm. 

You can take the plant to the sink and rinse it thoroughly for about 2-3 minutes. 

Fluoridated Or Chlorinated Water

Indoor palms are known to be quite sensitive to the type of water used on them. Many water treatment facilities end up adding chlorine to tap water to ensure that it is safe to drink. 

While this water is perfectly safe for human consumption, some plants can be quite sensitive to chlorine, and one of the symptoms of this is brown tips on your green friend.

If you are doing everything else right for your Areca Palm and still witness brown leaves on your plant, you should definitely try watering your plant with chlorine-free water. 

You can use rainwater or filtered water or, alternatively, if you have enough time, you can leave tap water sitting for 24 hours, exposed to sunlight, and the chlorine will react with the water, eliminating it almost entirely.

Fluoride in water is also known to have a similar problem with Areca Palm leaf tips, but tap water is not known to have a significant quantity of fluoride present. 

This often enters the water supply as a result of the underlying rock formations that your water supply comes from, but some water authorities add supplemental fluoride to water as a public health measure due to the dental health benefits of the compound.

Treating an affected plant

You need to start by identifying the cause and correct the problem by taking care of the plant. If you can provide good growing conditions for your plant, it will produce plenty of new leaves, and this will help benefit your plant to a great extent.

Usually, the removal of the brown leaves doesn’t harm the plant. If the majority of the leaf has turned brown, you can cut it off at the base, near the soil, with a pair of sharp and clean pruners.

If it is just the leaf tips that have turned brown, there are 2 paths ahead of you:

  • The first available option is to leave the brown tips alone. It is quite common for this variety of plants to develop a few brown leaf tips and, if you have an otherwise healthy plant, then this shouldn’t be much of a concern for the plant.
  • The second option is to artistically cut the brown leaf tips off at a point so that from a distance, it looks like a normal, but only a shorter leaflet. Go ahead and make a small diagonal cut on each side of the leaflet, coming to a point. 

It is better that you cut off the majority of the brown, but not reach the green healthy part of the leaf, as this can lead to a further brown margin developing.

FAQs

Is the plant easy to care for?

Areca palm is known to be a low-maintenance houseplant. The palm is also easy to care for both outdoors and indoors as long as it is situated in the right light, with full to partial sun.

Are pests a concern?

Like any other plant, there is no way that areca palms are left completely unbothered by pests. Areca Palms are prone to mealybugs, scale, and spider mites. All of these bugs will feed on the stems and foliage, causing damage to the plant, and resulting in brown tips and leaves on your Areca Palm.

How fast can these plants grow?

Areca palm is famous, or rather infamous, as a slow to moderate growth rate indoors and outdoors. It can grow to a mature height of ten feet when grown indoors and up to 35 feet in outdoor spaces.

Conclusion

Areca palms are a thing of beauty. From the wonder foliage they possess to the numerous benefits it holds in the bank, it happens to be any gardener’s dream. But with a great plant comes great responsibility, the responsibility of taking care of the plant and protecting it from any harm.

It is not necessarily hard to take care of an areca palm, there only are a handful of quirks that you need to keep in mind!

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