Parlor Palm Vs Areca Palm (5 Differences You Should Know)


Having a parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) or an areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) is a low-maintenance way to spruce up any corner of your home or garden. Each of these palms is a stunning plant that you will own for a long time under the right conditions.

The main difference between parlor palm and areca palm is their leaf shape. A parlor palm’s leaves are delicate lanceolate shapes, growing up to 8 inches long. An areca palm’s leaves are larger and ovoid, growing up to several feet. The parlor palm’s habit is to grow upright, while the areca palm has an arching habit. Multiple stems arise from one base in the areca, while the parlor palm’s stems grow in clusters and are more sturdy than the areca.

If you are looking to distinguish between these two palms then this article might be helpful. Discover the comparisons between the parlor palm vs areca palm here.

Difference between Parlor Palm and Areca Palm
 Parlor PalmAreca Palm
USDA Hardiness zone10 – 129 – 11
Scientific NameChamaedorea elegansDypsis lutescens
Mature height3 to 8 feetUp to 20 feet
Mature width1 to 3 feet8 to 10 feet
Growth rate6 to 10 inches/yearUp to 3 years to mature
Light RequirementPartial sunPartial sun, full sun
Soil TypeOutdoors: Moist, drainedIndoors: Potting mixOutdoors: Moist, drainedIndoors: Potting mix
Soil pH5.1 to 7.56.0 to 7.0
Watering Frequency1-2 weeksOnce weekly
PestsScale insects, mealybugs, spider mitesCaterpillars, mites, mealybugs, thrips
DiseasesFungal spots, root rotFungus, root rot

Difference Between Parlor Palm and Areca Palm

A key difference between the areca palm and the parlor palm is their size and their growth. With the parlor palm, you will see an upright plant with a more stout cluster of stems that grows slowly. 

This is what will make this a good tabletop plant. For the areca palm, you are going to need a lot of room, as its long and arching fronds can grow up to eight feet long.

The areca stems grow in clusters from trunks that resemble bamboo, which lends to its other nickname the bamboo palm. 

Its large arching leaves to some look like butterfly wings, earning it the nickname the butterfly palm. The parlor palm is a daintier thing, with lacy leaves less than a foot long, lending to its nicknames the Bella palm and Victorian palm.

Leaves Shape and Texture

The parlor palm is a palm with smaller leaves that are often described as dainty or lacy. These leaves grow upright and can grow as long as eight inches.

The areca palm leaves on the other hand are smaller, but you could see as many as 40 to 60 pairs of leaves from each stem.

Leaves Color

People like both the parlor palms and the areca palms because they do bring a touch of exotic forest into the home. 

The areca palm is always a lush and healthy green. Any signs of discoloring are a sign that some light maintenance tweaks are required. 

Any signs of brown on the areca leaf are a sign that the leaf has died, which is a natural part of the growth cycle. 

If it is a younger leaf that is turning brown, you have probably overwatered it. A yellow leaf means the leaf has not gotten enough water. 

When it is the tip of the leaf that is brown, the plant may be at a temperature that is too cool for the parlor palm. The air may also be too dry.

Parlor palms have a gorgeous green leaf as well, which can also show signs of discoloration. Some brown leaves will naturally fall off when their season has finished. 

Any other sign of brown or yellow leaf on the parlor palm is a sign of stress. This is often caused by too much light on the plant. 

If the plant is underwatered, the tips of the palm will begin to brown. You can always cut these leaves without harming the palm, they can’t be saved at this point.

Flower

Of the two palms, the areca palm is the only palm that flowers. It will flower in the late spring or early summer. The flowers are small yellow flowers found right under the leaves. This palm has both male and female flowering buds.

The parlor palm does have a flower as well that is yellow and sometimes orange in color. Its flowering season is also in the spring. The parlor palm prefers natural sunlight for flowering and isn’t likely to flower for you if you keep it indoors.

Height and Structure

The parlor palm is a smaller plant, but it can grow to a significant size. It can start as a table-top plant, but will eventually mature to 3 to 8 feet. This will take some time, as the parlor palm will take years to mature to its full growth.

The areca palm is a much larger plant. It can grow as tall as 20 feet, but some will even grow larger in the right conditions. It will need an outdoor location or a room with a high ceiling in its later years.

Growing Requirements  

It’s important to remember that these palms originate from the rainforest, and they thrive under conditions that model this. 

The parlor palm needs a room temperature between 65-80°F (18-27°C). The parlor can grow below 50°F, but if it is impacted by frost it will not survive. It does not mind having a humid room.

The areca palm is very similar and needs partial sunlight. If you are keeping it inside, it needs a room temperature of 60-75°F (16-24°C). Sudden drops in temperature are going to kill the plant. You will begin to notice this with the leaves. 

Similarities Between Parlor Palm and Areca Palm

Light Requirements

Both the areca palm and parlor palm need partial sunlight, the areca palm can tolerate full sun. 

Watering Requirements

Both the parlor palm and the areca palm require little watering. If they are watered once a week, they are happy. You can get away with watering the parlor palm once every two weeks if it is doing well without water. The parlor palm and the areca palm do not like to be overwatered, it will endanger them.

Fluorinated water may not be good for either of these palms. Distilled water or rainwater will help them to thrive. If the room becomes too humid, the plants will enjoy a little misting. 

You can also put the pot on a plate with some stones that are soaking in water which is also known as the pebble tray method. This will create natural humidity for the plants.

Soil

The parlor palm can handle any peat-based potting soil if it is indoors. You don’t want it to deteriorate and break down. If it is outdoors, the soil it will need is sand and clay.

The areca palm can survive under the same conditions. You will want to use peat-based potting soil that will ensure good draining. If you are planting it outside, it will need soil with some acidity. 

Fertilizer

When it comes to feeding your palms, the parlor palm needs a light liquid fertilizer. You only need to do this once or twice while it is growing. They won’t need it in the winter, they do not need a lot to eat at all.

The areca palm on the other hand likes its fertilizer. Feed it in the spring into the fall with a liquid fertilizer. The areca is dormant in the fall and winter and does not need fertilizer then.

Pest and Diseases

These plants share common pests. For the parlor palm, the most common pests are mealy bugs, aphids, and scale insects. 

The areca palm does not have any problems with pests. When it does, mealy bugs, thrips, and caterpillars are its problems.

It is worth noting that when it comes to pests, the areca palm and parlor palm fungal spots are common to both palms. These pests will occur outdoors more than they will occur anywhere else. 

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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