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Beautiful Butterfly or Areca Palm

You may recognize the areca palm by one of its other common names that include the butterfly palm and golden cane palm.

This beautiful palm with feathery leaves is mostly cultivated as a house plant and also for landscapes in regions where the night time temp doesn’t drop below freezing.

I had some of these in Canada and used to have them on the patio in the summer and indoors in the winter. 

Potted Areca PalmsPotted Areca Palms

Even here in the Dominican I have 2 containers growing and several groups planted around the house.


The areca palm is often referred to as the butterfly palm.

Their feather leaves have a gentle arching curl causing them to flutter in the wind.

Another common name is the bamboo palm, however this name may get it confused with another palm of that same common name but in a totally different part of the family.

The reason becomes clear when you have a closer look at their trunk.

The old leaf rings are spaced apart, due to the long crownshaft.

This is what gives it a resemblance to what traditional bamboo looks like.

Areca or Butterfly Palm, Dypsis lutescensareca or butterfly palm trees
Areca or Butterfly Palm Fruit, Dypsis lutescensbutterfly palm tree fruit

The yellow or golden leaf stems are the reason for the golden cane palm name.

The areca palm can get quite tall if planted outdoors.

It produces flower sprays of up to 2 feet or so long displaying yellow flowers of both sexes.

The flowers turn into a small fruit once pollinated.

The fruits are like a nut and will eventually turn from green to dark orange color or almost black once ripe.

You can grow these palms from seed fairly easily but they are also a clumping variety producing new shoots from the base.

This makes them great for the patio. The larger trees give you shade while the shorter new trees give privacy.

You will have to thin them out from time to time.

Seeds are of course a cheaper way to start rather than buying a whole tree.

Potted Areca or Butterfly Palm on Patio, Dypsis lutescensPotted areca palm trees

Growing Areca Palms

The areca palm will do quite well indoors as a house plant.

Make sure to give it plenty of natural light.

You’ll want to plant it in any type of well drained soil.

It is only mildly drought tolerant so ensure it has enough water and fertilize every 8-12 weeks with a good palm fertilizer.

Keep an eye out for spider mites. This palm is susceptible to them if kept indoors.

Potted Areca PalmsPotted Areca Palms
Areca Palm Tree - Medium

Quick info:   scientific name    Dypsis lutescens

  • Minimum temp 32°F or 0°C, outdoor zones 10-11
  • Clumping variety, mildly drought tolerant
  • 25-35 plus feet tall, clumps 15-20 feet wide
  • Part shade to full sun, any well drained soil
Fully grown butterfly palm treesFully grown butterfly palm trees

Outdoors they will grow in part shade to full sun.

Again any well drained soil and water if drought conditions are setting up.

The fruits will appear a yellowish green to lighter orange if they are suffering from a lack of nitrogen.

Fertilize 3-4 times a year with a quality water soluble palm fertilizer to avoid any possible issues.

If you need to thin out the base cut off just the new shoots you don’t want.

If they are getting too tall and you want to trim some of the taller trees out to let the younger ones grow up that is fine.Cut them down at the base of the trunk.

Keep in mind that the younger trees growing up in the middle have been shaded by the older ones.

Don’t be alarmed if after taking some of the older ones down, you see the younger trees leaf tips, and sometime whole leaves turn brown. 

The brown leaves are showing a sun burn.

The younger trees will grow new leaves that start off in the sun and be just fine.

 You can’t exactly take your time acclimating them from shade to sun in this case.

I had no problem bringing my areca palm from outdoors to indoors over the winter.

Rather than getting an artificial palm for the living room or patio, why not consider planting one of these in a self watering container instead.

You’ll especially appreciate the almost 1 liter of water it puts back into the air during the dry indoor climate of the winter. 

What a great looking humidifier!

silk areca palm treesilk areca palm tree
live bamboo plantlive bamboo plant
live parlor palm treelive parlor palm tree

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