Areca Palm – Dypsis lutescens and Spider Mites, Oh My!!

imageThe Areca Palm (sometimes called the Butterfly Palm), is native to Madagascar and is one of the most popular indoor houseplants sold today. These palms are really needy and can be babies sometimes. Indoors it is a medium-sized  plant that reaches a height of 6-8 feet; outdoors it can be as tall as 25 feet.

Plant your palm in a pot a bit larger than the rootball with a bit of an acid soil mixed with some sand. The soil should drain rather quickly. These palms don’t mind being root-bound, so don’t rush to repot it.

This palm likes indirect, bright light and only to be watered when it starts to droop. It should never sit in water, as this will cause root-rot. It is also very particular about the water it does receive. If you use softened water, the salts will cause spots on the leaves. Regarding fertilizer, use a balanced one (10-10-10 or 12-12-12) at half-strength. Again, fertilizers do have ‘salts‘ in them and can cause spots if used too heavily.

Because imageAreca Palms desire high humidity, they are susceptible to the fungus Ganoderma and Pink Rot . Ganoderma, which is spread through the soil and on pruning tools, causes the lower fronds to droop and turn yellow, then gradually works its way up the plant. Pink rot develops in moist soil and causes the fronds in the crown (top) of the Palm to turn brown and droop. Both of these diseases is a death sentence however, both are preventable by keeping the soil drier.

You should only prune yellow or damaged frons from the plant. Tips of the leaves can by cut off, if unsightly.image

Studies have shown that an Areca Palm is effective in removing benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air.

Spider mites can be a problem on these palms, as well as other palms. As a preventative, mist the palms with water occasionally, as the mites don’t like a humid atmosphere. If you can, put your plant in the shower and spray both sides with a 50/50 mix of insecticidal soap* and water. The leaves are somewhat delicate, strong soap can discolor the leaves. Wipe the leaves down to remove any mites. Monitor the plant and reapply if necessary.

*Remember! Do not use regular dish soap as a cheap alternative to insecticidal soap. It may have been ok in the past, however modern dish soaps are mostly detergent now and don’t have the fatty acids needed to kill the insects.

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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

13 thoughts on “Areca Palm – Dypsis lutescens and Spider Mites, Oh My!!

  1. that was my first thought too: spider mites…. I’ve noticed that they never appear as long as I have the plant outside in summer. Now I’m armed with the killing soap and I hope it works. The worst is, that the orchid I had next to the palm is haunted by spider mites too… I don’t want such “pets” :o(((

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    • Outside there are many other things that will eat them. Inside you’ve only got Easy and I suspect he’s not interested! Bummer on the orchid. I’ve just had my first bloom stalk happen on my orchid. Hasn’t bloomed, but growing. Got my fingers crossed!

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  2. Interesting about the soap 🙂 I used to grate a bar of Sunlight soap, which I assume was OK – and spray with that and some Jeyes fluid. Yep – I killed a few plants in my time!!
    I kike your title – Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My! 🙂

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    • You caught that! ! 😉 Someone has had her coffee. Oh my!
      I’m not familiar with Sunlight soap or Jeyes fluid (But! Just educated myself with the internet!). Ok. Um. Don’t do that anymore! 😅 Sadly, Sunlight soap changed their formula to not contain fats about 10 yrs ago. I think I get you were jesting and don’t do that anymore anyway. .. 😉 haha!

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  3. Ah, I’ve never seen spider mites, I would have thought these are mealies though I have heard to watch out for the webbing. Tricky because I have had spiders build webs in my orchids which is fine with me because they catch gnats. 🙂 Good luck getting rid of your mites!

    It’s interesting that these plants are so common especially when they get so big! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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