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The areca palm has soft, fine-textured fronds that are full and dense, making arecas a favorite for privacy, accents and garden backdrops. Arecas are clustering palms with a multitude of trunks spring up from the base of the plant, giving it a lush full look. You can leave them fluffy and full to the ground to use as a tropical privacy fence, or thin them out to see more of the trunks.
Arecas are sometimes called “butterfly palms” because the leaves curve upward in multiple stems to create a butterfly look. Trunks on the same plant can vary in size from pencil thin to thick as a person's arm, especially as the areca matures.
Areca palms are slow to moderate growers for sun or shade and can reach heights of 15 to 20 feet.
Though these palms are considered self-cleaning, you may want to trim off yellowed or browned fronds occasionally.
After winter's chill, the tips of the fronds may be browned and you can go along and shear off just the brown tips, a tedious task but sometimes worth the work involved.
Leaf tip burn (the browned tips) can also occur when the palm goes too dry - regular water is necessary, though an areca doesn't like overly wet conditions. You can plant a little on the high side to encourage good drainage.
Leaving the fronds to brown and fall off on their own is better for the health of the palm. If used as a backdrop specimen any discolored fronds will be much less noticeable.
Plant with organic peat moss or top soil added to the hole to enrich the soil. Fertilize at least three times a year - in spring, summer and fall - with a granular palm fertilizer containing micronutrients. Arecas love being fertilized, especially those growing in shade.
Arecas are wider at the top - sometimes 8 to 10 feet or more in diameter - so allow enough room for the palm to grow a tropical canopy over nearby plants.
Zone 10 is best for arecas, though in warmer areas of Zone 9B that border 10A you can use an areca in a protected spot. You may see leaf tip burn on arecas after most winters, even in Zone 10.
Areca palms are moderately salt-tolerant.
For a hedge-type planting, space arecas 3 to 6 feet apart.
For a corner-of-the-house planting, place arecas at least 4 feet away from the structure, making sure the palm won't eventually grow into eaves, gutters or roof lines.
Arecas make stunning pool cage specimens, and can be grown in a container as well. Eventually they will outgrow a pot and need a larger one or will need to be planted in the ground.
Landscaping with Areca Palms
• use as a privacy screening or hedge plantings
• in a pool cage planter (interiors above 15 feet)
• as a large corner accent
• to cover a blank wall, fence, or side of a house or garage
• as a container plant for pool, patio or screened lanai