Areca - Arecaceae family - How to care for and grow your Arecas

Areca - Arecaceae family - How to care for and grow your Arecas



They are plants that are part of the large group of palms, very frequent in our homes for the beauty of their fronds and the simplicity of cultivation.






: Angiosperms


: Monocotyledons


: Commelinoids











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Areca of the family ofArecaceae includes plants best known as palm trees native to Malaysia and the Philippines and much grown in the hot and humid areas of Africa and Asia. In nature they are plants that become real trees while in pots they do not exceed two meters in height.

They are plants characterized by a rigid stem from which long leaves of bright dark green color branch off, pinnate that is composed of a central axis (rachis) to the right and left of which numerous leaflets are inserted.

In nature the Areca they are plants that bloom generously while in pots it is enough even if it can happen, if the cultivation conditions are very favorable.

Note 1


To the genre Areca many species belong but the most common species, such as houseplants and garden plants, are:


There Areca catechu (also note as palm of Betel) is a plant native to the island of Ceylon (SriLanka) and Malaysia and is cultivated throughout Southeast Asia, in India and in some regions of central-eastern Africa.

It is characterized by a long striped stem and long intense green leaves which are in turn divided into numerous leaflets, typical of the genus.
It rarely blooms in pots.

Fruits (note 1)

In nature it produces numerous white flowers and rounded fruits gathered in panicles whose seeds are known with the name of betel nuts and widely used for food purposes (see paragraph «Curiosities»).


L'Areca lutescens is a beautiful plant with very decorative and very dense leaves.


The Areca, in consideration of the fact that they are native plants of tropical countries, they are plants that need a good exposure to light, but not exposure to direct sunlight with average temperatures ranging around 20-25 ° C.

They are plants that love the air so remember to often ventilate the room that hosts them without creating air currents, especially cold, which are not welcome.

To remove dust from the leaves of Areca use a soft cloth wet with lukewarm water or you can take the classic "shower" inside the bathtub if you do not have a garden, taking care to seal the pot with plastic so as not to flood the earth.

A recommendation that I will never stop repeating: DO NOT use foliar polishes because they damage the plant as they clog the pores and therefore prevent abnormal physiological processes.


The soil must remain constantly moist (not soaked) making sure that the water does not stagnate in the saucer.

In periods of higher temperature it is good to regularly nebulize the leaves ofAreca in order to create a humid microclimate around the plant or place the plant on a saucer on expanded clay or gravel where there will be a little water (which will never be in contact with the roots) which, evaporating, will maintain an environment around the plant constantly humid.

It is a plant that does not like limestone, therefore it is advisable to water it with rainwater or demineralized water if the water in your area is particularly calcareous.


L'Areca it does not need particular attention as regards the cultivation land. The important thing is that it is well drained to allow the irrigation water to percolate and not stagnate, thus creating an asphyxiated environment that would not be tolerated by the plant. For this reason it is advisable to mix with sand or expanded clay that will favor the drainage of the watering water and place pieces of earthenware or gravel on the bottom of the pot in order to ensure good drainage.

Repotting is done in early spring and only if there is a real need dictated by the fact that the roots have occupied all the land available to them.


The fertilizations are carried out starting from spring and for the whole summer period every 15-20 days using a liquid fertilizer dissolved in the irrigation water.During the other periods it is not fertilized.

It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) also has microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu) , zinc (Zn), boron (B), polybdenum (Mo), magnesium (mg) all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.

As for the doses, they should be halved compared to what is reported in the package.


Usually it is not pruned. Only the parts of the plant that dry up or become damaged are eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.

In these plants it is common for the tips of the leaves to dry out due to excessive dryness of the air. In this case it is not necessary to cut the leaf but simply cut the dry tip (with a clean scissors disinfected with alcohol or flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.


It is very difficult for theAreca can flourish if grown in pots even if it is not rare.


L'Areca it multiplies by seed or by division of the tufts.

If you want to get a specimen equal to the mother plant then you must necessarily divide the tufts as if you use the multiplication technique by seed it is likely that, by taking over the genetic variability, you will not get a plant equal to the mother plant.


The division of the plant takes place in spring. You take the pot, turn it upside down and slide the plant out of the pot. At that point the ground clod is grabbed and the plant is divided into two or more particles which will then be planted in single pots using a soil as indicated in the paragraph "repotting" and they are treated as adult plants.

MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS is carried out starting from the end of the month of winter (late March - early April) by sowing in a soil formed by a part of peat and a part of coarse sand.

To prevent any fungal attacks, it would be advisable to administer a broad spectrum fungicide together with the irrigation water, in the doses indicated in the package.

The tray (or the pot) that contains the seeds should be kept in the light (not in direct sun) and at a temperature of about 24-26 ° C and constantly humid (use a sprayer to moisten the soil) until the moment of germination.

The tray is covered with a transparent plastic sheet to ensure a good temperature and prevent the soil from drying out too quickly. Remove the plastic every day to eliminate the condensation that will surely have formed.

Once the seeds have germinated, the plastic sheet is removed permanently and as the Areca seedlings grow, the light is increased (never direct sunlight) ensuring good ventilation.

You can start transplanting the seedlings when they have formed the first set of leaves, in any case taking great care not to damage any part of the plant (it would be advisable to use a fork for these operations that put under the ground to take the whole plant and put it in the new vase) in single pots of no more than 7 cm in diameter in a compote as indicated for adult plants.


Dry leaf tips

This symptom (which is not a disease but a physiopathy) in most cases is caused by an excess of water.
Remedy: the remedy is only preventive, ie to maintain a humid microclimate around the plant by adopting the precautions indicated in the paragraph "watering". Unfortunately, even if the environmental conditions are improved, the damage cannot be repaired. The leaves can only be shortened.

Radical rot

If the plant is experiencing widespread suffering and you are in doubt that something is wrong, take the plant out of the pot and check the roots. If you notice that a rot is in progress (the roots are soft to the touch) remove the dead roots with a scissors (clean and flame-disinfected) by cutting them at least an inch above the damaged area and sprinkle the wounds with a broad spectrum fungicide and then potted with soil dry and wait at least a week before proceeding with the new irrigation to allow time for the cuts to heal. For the future, better regulate the watering.

Leaves that begin to turn yellow, appear mottled with yellow and brown

The leaves may begin to turn yellow and subsequently curl up, taking on an almost powdery appearance. If you look closely you can also find thin cobwebs especially on the underside of the leaves. With this symptomatology we are in the presence of an attack of red spider, a very annoying and harmful mite.

Remedies: increase the frequency of nebulizations to the foliage as little humidity favors their proliferation. If the infestation is particularly severe, use a specific acaricide. If the Areca is not particularly large, you can also try cleaning the leaves to mechanically eliminate the parasite using a wet and soapy cotton swab or a very soft brush. Finally, remember to rinse very well to get rid of the soap.

Brown spots on the leaves

Brown spots on the leaves, especially on the underside, could mean that you are in the presence of scale insects, brown scale insects or mealy bugs. To be sure, look at them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photos on the side. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap, rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which rinse very well to remove the soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.


The Betel nuts (areca nut) are the seeds of theAreca catechu, widely used in the regions of tropical Asia to be chewed and are also commonly known by the name betel nutThe chewing practice dates back to very ancient times (the first evidence dates back to more than 2000 years ago) and is still widespread today from India to South China up to Melanesia and is linked to social and ritual functions.

Market for sale of Betel nut (Note 1)

Note 1

Bocconi of Betel nut (Note 1)

The seeds are very rich in fatty substances, different alkaloids (arecoline, arecaidine, guvacine and guvacoline) and tannins that give a red color (called areca red or kuni) and are usually chewed after meals as they stimulate salivary activity and therefore the digestion. From more in-depth analyzes it has also been observed that they have a vermifuge, cardiotonic and even astringent action.

Piper Betle (Note 1)

There Betel nut (the seed ofAreca) is crushed into small pieces and then sprinkled with lime (lime) and sometimes also with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cardammom or others; the whole is then wrapped in the leaves of another plant, the Piperbetle (belonging to the family Piperaceae and known as the Betel pepper) In this way you get bites (betel quid) that are chewed or simply kept in the mouth after lunch to perfume the breath and promote digestion. The leaves of Piper betle they give the bite a spicy flavor and cause a slight intoxication. A drawback is that the tannins present in the semi-blacken the teeth and dye the saliva red. There Betel nut shredded, it can also be mixed with tobacco to obtain cigarettes closed in a leaf ofbetel pepper to be smoked.

Sale of Betel Nut (Note 1)

It is estimated that around 200 million people chew them regularlyBetel nutsin the Western Pacific and South Asia while around 600 million consume it in the world.

(1) Image not subject to copyright

Online bibliography
-Department of Drugs Istituto Superiore di Sanità - Rome

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