Areca is a plant that belongs to the family of palms that are used to adorn our parks and gardens. Native to Madagascar, this plant is very popular with amateur or professional gardeners, especially for its depolluting properties. But few people really know it to the point of being able to give recommendations pertaining to its planting and maintenance techniques. Therefore, we shall begin by describing the characteristics of the Areca palm.

Known by the scientific name “Chrysalidocarpus  lutescens,” Areca is a plant originally from Madagascar and belongs to the palm family. It is a plant of which the arched leaves are long, green and persistent. It grows on sandy or normal soil and can reach up to 10 feet (3 meters) high, with a width rarely exceeding 3 feet (1 meter). This flowering plant that enjoys sun exposure can be grown in-ground as well as in containers and creates a delightful setting. Being an exotic plant, the Areca palm cannot withstand temperatures below 50 ° F (10 ° C).

Growing Areca

It should be noted that Areca likes well-drained and fertile soils. It should be planted in an area well-exposed to sunlight. This plant can easily be grown indoors in pots or trays, as it has a hard time withstanding the cold. It also has some potting soil and fertilizer requirements to ensure its proper development. Areca reproduces by seed or seedlings. However, young shoots growing at its base can be uprooted, cared for and replanted somewhere else. If you prefer to grow it in a pot or a tray, line the container’s bottom with a layer of gravel or pebbles so that the roots are not immersed under water. Cover the whole with potting soil.

There is no ideal time period for growing in containers, planting can be performed at any time. However, planting in-ground or outside the house must be done when the weather is mild or when the temperature is between 64 ° F and 72 ° F (18 and 22 ° C) as the Areca palm cannot withstand frost or cold. Remember to make sure that the plant receives enough light. In addition, irrigation should be regular: at least every other day in spring and summer, while two waterings a month are enough in fall and winter.

Maintenance of the Areca palm

For the maintenance of the Areca palm, the main thing is to ensure that there is no shortage of water and light, and that it is supplied with fertilizer twice a month. Dead and faded leaves must also be removed. Also, if you notice that there is no new growth appearing and your plant starts to look different, the water dosage must be reviewed and liquid fertilizer must be added to the ground every other week. Furthermore, it is advisable to plant Areca near other plants to enable it to receive more humidity. Repotting should be carried out every three years during the months of April and May For harmonious growth, remove the shoots in the spring when they reach 12 inches (30 cm).

Maintaining a plant also consists of caring for it when complications occur. If the Areca’s leaves begin to darken, it means that your plant suffers too cold or that the potting soil is too damp. On the other hand, Areca may be subject to attacks by spider mites or mealy bugs if the atmosphere is too dry. In this case, use acaricide or insecticide to spray the plant. Finally, if the leaves turn yellow at their tip, it is an indication that the plant lacks water.

How useful is Areca?

Areca is a highly-appreciated plant for its decorative appearance. However, this plant is also known for its purifying properties. Indeed, Areca is often used to purify the environment and rid it of xylene, toluene and formaldehyde. In addition, it absorbs the toxic organic compounds released by air fresheners, cigarette smoke, wallpaper, etc.. Thus, Areca is not only grown for its decorative aspect but also for its purifying effects.

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Published in Green plants by Alexander on 28 Jul 2011