Areca Palm Dying

Areca Palm Dying? (Troubleshooting 8 Common Problems)

An Areca Palm decline is commonly caused by improper moisture. Both overwatering and underwatering can lead to frond yellowing and death. Arecas need consistently damp but not soggy soil.

Improve drainage in heavy soil and water thoroughly when the top several inches become dry. Protect from cold drafts which can damage foliage. Ensuring suitable irrigation matched to the environment will prevent areca palm demise.

Areca palm is a member of the Arecaceae family(Palm trees). Areca palm is kept indoors for its aesthetics. The Areca palm plant is also called the Butterfly palm/Golden cane palm.

Areca palm plants are easy to care for. However many gardeners face problems when growing Areca palm plants. Let’s see what the problems are and how to fix them.

Areca palm leaves drooping

Drooping leaves in Areca Palm are seen typically due to Overwatering. Areca Palm leaves also droop when the humidity falls below 40%.

Areca palm root rot

Areca palm suffers from root rot if the plant has been sitting in waterlogged conditions for a long time. Overwatering causes waterlogged conditions.

Sometimes waterlogged conditions are also due to the poorly-draining potting mix. Make sure that the potting mix drains excess water.

Areca palm yellow leaves and brown spots

Plants affected by root rot have yellow leaves with brown spots/blotches on them. These yellow leaves eventually turn brown.

Check the soil with your fingers to see if the plant has been overwatered.

How to save Areca palms from root rot?

  • Make sure the pot has drainage holes and the potting mix drains excess water well.
  • See if the soil level is too high and if it’s covering a part of the stem. Try to remove excess soil that covers the stem.
  • Cut off the brown/rotten parts of the root system with a pair of sterilized pruning shears.
  • Dip the roots of the plant in a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide.
  • Repot the plant in a new pot with fresh potting mix.

You can only save an Areca palm if the rotting has just started.


Areca palm needs more than 40% humidity to thrive indoors. Running a humidifier or placing a water tray near the plant works well.

If the humidity falls below the optimum then the Areca palm leaves become droopy and the tips of the leaves turn brown.

You can not keep the humidity optimal by misting your Areca palm. Instead, place a water tray and group the Areca palm plants around it.

Areca Palm black spots on stems

Black spots on Areca palm stems are due to Black fungus. Black spots can also be seen on Areca Palm stems due to natural pigmentation.

Sometimes people call this pathogen ‘flyspeck fungus’. Some people think this is caused by some kind of scale.

Scale infestations are easier to diagnose. Scale infestations feel bumpy when touched. Fungus just grows from inside the plant.

These little black spots spread to other stems vigorously. Follow the below guidelines as soon as you notice the black spots on the stems.

  • Wipe the affected stems with a damp paper towel/cloth.
  • Cut off the dying leaves with a pair of pruning shears.
  • Cut the affected stems, leaving only a part of the infected portion. See if the infection spreads.

Areca palm leaves turning yellow

Yellowing leaves on areca palms often indicate overwatering and poor drainage leading to root rot. The compromised roots cannot take up nutrients, causing a deficiency.

Allow soil to partially dry between waterings. If soil remains wet, repot with a quicker draining palm mix amended with perlite and orchid bark. Remove dead fronds and improve air circulation. Preventing saturation will help green up yellowing leaves.

Areca Palm Yellow Spots

Small, yellow spots are seen on Areca Palm when there’s a Spider Mite infestation. Check the undersides of the leaves to see if you find mite eggs(you may need a magnifying glass).

If you see tiny grains of salt on the lower side of the leaves, the plant is infested by spider mites. These tiny grains are the eggs of the spider mites.

The pin-pricked appearance of the leaves is due to the feeding habits of the spider mites. Spider mites feed on the plant sap through leaves.

Mix 10-15ml. dishwashing soap in a liter of water and make a solution. Dip a cloth in this solution and wipe the eggs off the Areca palm leaves.

Areca Palm leaves not opening

Areca palm leaves/spears do not open when the ‘Boron’ content in the soil is reduced. Born is a micro-nutrient that is crucial for palm spear growth.

Boron deficiency also occurs in the cases of overwatering. Water washes away the already-minute amounts of ‘Boron’ in the soil.

Fertilize your Areca adequately every year to avoid a ‘Boron’ deficiency in the soil. Do not fertilize prior to rainfall as rain washes away micro-nutrients.

Frozen spear

Sometimes lower temperatures also deter spear opening in Areca palm plants. If the temperature falls below the optimum, spears get frozen.

Make sure your plant is healthy before the winter comes. You may want to fertilize your Areca palm regularly to make sure it can tolerate lower temperatures.

Water your Areca palm thoroughly before the winter season to help it survive the winter.

Areca palm white fungus

The white fungus-like material you see on your Areca palm plants is because of Spiraling whiteflies. If you see cottony material on the leaves of your Areca palm, it’s a Mealybug infestation.

Spiraling whiteflies produce a white, waxy coating on the leaves of the affected plant. The pest lays eggs in a spiral fashion, which is where the plant gets its name from.

Spiraling whiteflies do not kill the infected plant. If you see such a spiral pattern of eggs on the leaves, respond quickly.

How to get rid of Spiraling Whiteflies on Areca palm

You can get rid of Spiraling Whiteflies on Areca Palm by spraying water on the affected stems. Try to get rid of the eggs and Honeydew by spraying water.

Drench the leaves in Horticulture Oil/Insecticidal Soap if the infestation is severe.

Areca palm Mealybugs

Mealybugs can infect Areca palm plants. Mealybugs produce a cottony material and hide in the material. Mealybugs are non-flying insects(Whiteflies have wings).

Mealybugs produce honeydew too by sucking plant sap through the leaves. Who’d want to see such ugly, white fuzz on their Areca palm plants?

To get rid of mealybugs on Areca palm

  • Wipe off the mealybugs with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.
  • You can spray insecticidal soap/horticulture oil if the infestation is severe.

Areca palm leaf spot disease

Various types of fungi can cause leaf spots on the leaves of Areca palm. Such fungal growth is favored by moist leaves.

Yellow blotches surrounded by brown circles are the common ones. The brown blotches have an oily appearance.

Leaf spot disease prevention in Areca palm

  • Do not wet the leaves while watering your Areca palm.
  • Improve air circulation around your Areca palm plants.
  • Cut off the severely infected fronds with a pair of pruning shears. Sterilize the pruners after working on an infected plant.

Leaf spot disease treatment in Areca palm

  • During the spring spray copper fungicide on a susceptible palm plant.
  • Contact the local authorities if you’re unsure about how to treat the infected Areca palm.

Scales on Areca Palm

Areca palm scales are female insects that attach themselves to the leaves. They’re unable to move once they are mature.

They appear as white/brown bumps on the leaves of the Areca palm. Scales have a protective covering that protects them from a variety of insecticides.

Try to kill the eggs and nymphs as the adults are harder to kill. Spray insecticidal soap/horticulture oil on the infested plants.

Mix 8 teaspoons of vegetable oil and half a teaspoon of washing soap in a liter of warm water. Make a solution and fill this into a spray bottle.

Drench the affected leaves in this solution. Spray this solution weekly until you get rid of these pests for good.

How to save a Dying Areca Palm?

Reviving a declining areca palm starts with identifying and correcting any underlying care issues, especially improper watering.

  • Rule out overwatering by allowing the soil to partially dry out between thorough waterings to prevent saturation. Improve drainage by repotting in a palm mix amended with bark and perlite if needed.
  • Also, make sure the plant receives adequate moisture by watering when the top few inches of soil become dry.
  • Trim off any dead or dying fronds to reduce disease spread.
  • Move the palm away from cold drafts and mist leaves to boost humidity around the plant.

With adjustments to irrigation, humidity, and environment, an areca palm can rebound from near death if given attentive care.

Happy Gardening 🙂