The Areca Palm Leaves, also known as Dypsis lutescens, is one of the most popular indoor plants that can greatly improve the style of your room.
Thanks to its attractive long fronds. But sadly, it’s also one of the hardest to maintain due to its high susceptibility to discoloration (yellowing). Thus begging the question why? “Why are my areca palm Leaves turning yellow?”
Areca palm is turning yellow because of the conditions of the soil, and external factors affecting the plant. For instance, yellowing of the foliages could be due to personal mistakes like applying tap water (contains fluoride), excess fertilizers, Overwatering, or under-watering. In terms of soil conditions, it could be due to nutritional imbalance or fungus attack. And in terms of external conditions, it boils down to weather, temperature, pest infestation, and the general atmospheric state.
In this article, we’re going to discuss every common cause of yellowing on your Areca Palm plant. By the end of this article, you should be able to understand why the symptoms occur and not mistake one for another. So, in the end, you can cure the problem easily.
- Nutrient Deficiencies
- Low Humidity
- Heat Stress
- Root Rot and Stem Rot
- Insect Infestation
- Excess Watering
- Over Drying the Soil (Underwatering)
- Over Fertilizing
- Low Light
- Copper Toxicity
- Salt Build-up in Soil (Water quality, tap water)
- Environmental Issues
- Final Words
One of the most common causes of yellowing in the truck and parts of Areca fronds is nutrient Deficiency. This occurs usually as a result of nutrient imbalance in the soil.
And issues usually stem from Improper use of fertilizers or the soil just isn’t good enough for sustaining your plant. The common nutrient Deficiencies include Nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. Read on as we delve into these…
Nitrogen is in charge of your plant’s green hue and growth as well. So lack of it will only mean yellowing of the foliage and stunted growth.
This type of deficiency is common to palm plants like your Areca because it’s a potted plant and potted plants have limited access to nutrients like Nitrogen unlike the outdoors where nitrogen is evenly produced by nature.
So nitrogen in a potting soil tends to deplete due to saturation of the soil. And thus the natural process of denitrification takes place.
The cure is the fertilizer that contains enough Nitrogen. Apply enough of it to your plant. Let it soak up all that nutrients and voila! Your fronds are greener and your plant is growing again.
Potassium is also responsible for the growth of your Areca plant and it keeps the fronds from aging fast. The symptom is translucent yellowing on the fronds.
At some point, the color could even turn brown. If so then the deficiency has led to necrosis—parts of the fronds (tissues) are dead. There are various reasons why your areca plant lacks this essential nutrient:
- The soil is too sandy – potassium tends to leak out easily when the soil is more acidic.
- Imbalanced fertilizer – the fertilizer you applied lacks ample potassium for your potted plant to use.
If the soil being too sandy is the case (or too acidic) then the best approach is to make the soil a little bit clayey. Because clay can hold potassium much better than sandy soil. But before adding clay, you should add the appropriate fertilizer.
The best option is sulfur-coated potassium sulfate. And yes, it should not be added alone. Apply magnesium as the fertilizer could give rise to an imbalance between magnesium and potassium.
Note: fronds with dead tissues will eventually die and fall off, but new ones will arise just in time to replace them. Also, potassium Deficiency is a fatal issue and you should solve it abruptly.
Lack of magnesium in the soil affects your palm plant on the cosmetic level. Nothing too serious but heavy yellowing on the palm fronds. The cause is due to high levels of Nitrogen and calcium in the soil. Also, the soil could be too acidic, or too alkaline.
What you need is fertilizer. You should apply magnesium sulfate in a controlled quantity and manner. Also, apply potassium as well to prevent nutritional imbalance.
If the soil is too acidic apply dolomitic limestone to correct the deficiency. But if the soil is too alkaline, just prevent applying magnesium oxide. As it won’t dissolve in such soil.
Manganese is very important to plants generally because it’s involved in most of the plant’s biological processes. Such as transpiration, Nitrogen assimilation, photosynthesis, root cell elongation, and many more. Lack of this will lead to the total breakdown of your Acrea. And it starts with the yellowing of the leaves.
If the problem Persists the result is necrosis in the veins leading to the leaves. If not treated, the fronds will die and fall off.
Such Deficiency can only occur if the soil is too Alkaline (its pH is above 6.5). This causes manganese to be undissolvable. Another could be due to excess phosphorus or an oversaturated soil with ineffective drainage.
There are two ways to solve this manganese problem. You could either adjust the pH of the soil by adding a sulfate. you could apply manganese sulfate to the soil or leaves (fronds).
It’s best to apply 2 teaspoons of manganese sulfate per gallon in your Water can. Then water the soil or your Areca fronds. Whichever step you take, your plant will return to its normal state.
This is quite a common cause of yellowing on the Areca plant. And the action (chlorosis) happens around the veins of the newest leaves instead of the old ones. The result is emerging necrosis which starts from the tips of the new leaves.
Causes of iron Deficiency include:
- Overwatered soil
- Roots are too deep
- Damaged roots
- Alkaline soil
The solution is to apply iron sulfate or chelated iron to your areca plant. There are two ways you can go about this. You should apply half a teaspoon of any of these fertilizers per gallon of water on the foliage (temporary solution) or you can soak the soil. Another solution is to properly aerate the soil or plant your Areca with the appropriate depth.
The foliage of your Areca plant will still lose loads of moisture via intense transpiration. At this point, yellowing begins to manifest on the older fronds. If this persists then the tip of the fronds of even the younger ones will brown up (necrosis).
The best way to approach this problem is to keep the atmosphere humid enough to price excess transpiration. You could bad your Areca plant with other plants.
As they’d release safe amounts of moisture which will be enough collectively to prevent intense transpiration. You can also make use of humidity or better yet a proper humidifier to keep humid levels above 40%.
We all know how terrible it feels to take a stroll under the hot sun at 85°F. Plants feel the same way as well. Your Areca plant is no different as the intense heat from high daytime, night-time, and topsoil temperatures will cause severe damage which starts with yellowing in the affected areas.
The result is stunted growth, leaves rot, leaves drop, flowers and seeds will also fail to generate. Why? With the intense heat, there will be excessive transpiration, the roots and soil will also lose a lot of moisture.
Harsh heat waves come only during the summer, so it’s best to keep the soil moist regularly. Or at least after the soil has dried up completely before you water again. So you don’t end up Overwatering your plant.
Another way to ensure the soil remains moist is to add enough mulch. As it’ll prevent excess heat waves from striking your plant. And the mulch should be 2-3 inches thick above your soil.
This occurs due to direct access to sunlight rays which burn the fronds, stems, and any other part it comes to contact with. The plant will then begin to yellow. After a long duration of exposure, parts of the plant could darken up.
Keep the plant away from direct sunlight. Place it in a suitable location where it can enjoy indirect sunlight.
Root Rot and Stem Rot
It’s not necessary for Overwatering alone to cause root and stem rot. The other culprit could be fungus, as it attacks the roots, and later on, the stems would fall victim as well.
As you can’t or you may not have the time to know if your potting soil contains fungus. Not until it affects your plant. Because the fungus could just be lying there dormant in the soil until Overwatering takes place (once or multiple times).
So when the roots and stems rot, yellowing begins to manifest on the fronds and stems. Because there isn’t enough water getting to them.
The best way to cure your plant of this problem is to cut out the affected parts. And you should start with the roots. Here are some steps on how to go about it:
- Gently uproot your plant from the pot
- Wash it over your garden sink
- Let rotten roots fall off
- Cut out infected parts that are less lose
- Do the same for the leaves
- Cut the parts of the leaves (half of each of them) as well so that roots can comfortably support the plant as a whole
- Wash the pot with a bleach solution
- Then carefully repot the plant
Various pests can attack your Areca Palm plant. They include caterpillars, scales, mites l, and so on. But the most common pest are mealybugs.
You can find them in the region of your Areca plant where the stem meets the fronds (foliage). The result is yellowing on the fronds and browning on the tip.
The easiest way to take off these pests is to wash them with water. As it can wipe away the bugs, the eggs, and the sticky substance it usually leaves behind.
Another way is to dip a piece of cotton into alcohol (isopropyl) and then scrub the bugs down. Or you can simply spray a pesticide on the infested area.
Overwatering is a common reason why plant leaves turn yellow. It happens because the excess water in the soil causes the root to swell and then rot.
The stems and the leaves won’t have ample water to maintain their health, so it begins to break down and it starts to discolor (yellowing).
Here are steps on how to Revive your Areca from Overwatering:
- Gently uproot the plant
- Wash the roots and then cut out affected roots
- Drain the soil properly
- Re-pot the plant.
You can even prevent it from occurring with a well-thought-out watering schedule that is made with all seasons in mind. Also, before any watering, check to see if the soil is 2-3 inches dry.
During the summer or spring, watering should be frequent but during the winter and autumn, watering should be done less. As the soil will be a lot moist by then. So watering excess water will lead to problems.
Over Drying the Soil (Underwatering)
Yes, of course, you should let the soil dry out but you shouldn’t leave it out to starve. As moisture will begin to evaporate from the soil to the point in which the roots can no longer supply enough water to the stems and leaves. With no moisture and nutrients, the plant will begin to rot. And it usually starts with the yellowing of the foliage.
I prefer to add water to the soil properly. And you should do this by inspecting and testing the soil to see if it’s completely dry.
This is when you should water your plant. Also, it’s best to set up a watering schedule with the seasons in mind. This will help prevent your plant from experiencing Overwatering in the winter and underwatering during the summer.
Adding too much fertilizer or fertilizers in a very concentrated form to your Areca plant will lead to severe symptoms like fertilizer burn and browning of the tips.
This burn is due to the presence of excess nitrogen in the soil. It causes osmotic stress which leads to the gradual drying up of your Areca fronds. As they turn from yellow to full-on brown.
I make use of a water-soluble fertilizer so it can sink easily into the roots. Also, if the fertilizer is too much or too concentrated, I rinse it out with enough water. Till the excess fertilizer will run off into the drain hole and one the draining saucer.
Drafts occur in pockets of spaces in the room and It involves a huge spike or in the temperature. This means your plant can experience either cold or hot drafts.
For instance, you might place your Areca plant too close to the fireplace or near a radiator. This will cause moisture to escape the soil and plant via evaporation and intense respiration.
Another scenario to consider is placing your Areca plant next to a window with direct sunlight during the cold weather. So the plant suffers from sunburn and rot due to the intense cold weather.
In any of the scenarios above, I would recommend changing your plant’s location. Drafty areas in the home or building should be avoided.
So keep the plant far away from the fireplace during the summer. And keep it not too close to the fireplace, humidifier, or radiator during the winter.
Plants need photosynthesis to survive. Without it, your areca plant won’t grow properly. Low light will result in browning of the tips and the yellowing of the fronds because it’s placed in a gloomy area with little or no sunlight.
Change your plant’s location to a brighter area but with no direct sunlight.
With enough exposure to copper fertilizers or fungicides, your plant may suffer from it. Copper toxicity results in stunted growth, even down to the roots which in turn at some point cause yellowing of the foliage. A great way to identify copper toxicity is in the roots, as it continues to burn despite being watered.
The best way to tackle copper toxicity is to balance it out with alkaline fertilizers. Or you can just lime it (apply lime) to increase the soil pH.
Salt Build-up in Soil (Water quality, tap water)
Salt build in the soil could be due to the fertilizer being used. But the most common cause is tap water which contains fluoride. Adding such a type of water will cause the build-up of salt in the soil and cause nutritional imbalance.
Drain the soil and let it dry out. Once you’re done with that phase, add distilled water or better yet add rainwater to the soil. If you don’t have access to any of these, then keep your tap water in a big transparent counter and expose it to the sun for at least 24 hours. So that the fluoride and chlorine will react till they’re eliminated.
When speaking about environmental issues, one or more of the essentials are lacking. The essentials include the following:
Your Areca plants begin to turn yellow when there isn’t ample sunlight and when humidity levels are just too low. Lack of proper fertilization as well can cause yellowing due to the soil being nutritionally imbalanced. The symptom can also occur on your plant when the soil is Overwatered or Underwatered.
All you need to do is ensure the environment for your potted Areca plant is enabling its growth and general well-being.
The best way to go about this is to provide your plant with the essentials to which I’ve explained individually earlier in this article.
Now you know it’s very easy for your Areca plant to turn yellow as there are many causes. So with the information, I’ve provided you should be able to identify the cause, how it occurs, and fix it.