When and How to Fertilize Areca Palms at Home

Areca Palms are stunning houseplants that add a tropical allure to any room you put them in. Unfortunately, that allure is diminished when the plant stops growing, and the leaves begin to turn yellow thanks to a lack of nutrients. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about fertilizing Areca Palms and keeping them large and lush all year round.

When and How to Fertilize Areca Palm Plants at Home

Fertilizing Areca Palms – The Essentials

As moderate growers, Areca Palms benefit from a regular fertilizer application in spring and summer. Use a general houseplant fertilizer or a specialized formula high in nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) and low in phosphorus (P). Avoid overfertilizing as these palms are sensitive to salt build-up in the soil.

Fertilizer and Plant Health

Fertilizer and Plant Health

Along with water and light, all living things require nutrients to survive, and Areca Palms are no exception. Without them, plants cannot grow or reproduce and will ultimately die. 

But, not all nutrients are made equal. Split into macronutrients, micronutrients, and secondary nutrients, they each play different but still significant roles in plant development.


Macronutrients are those nutrients plants require in the highest amounts – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

If you’ve seen the letters NPK on a bag of fertilizer, that is what they stand for. 

  • Nitrogen (N) is responsible for producing lush green foliage. 
  • Phosphorus (P) aids in flowering and fruiting while 
  • Potassium (K) is good for strong root growth and improving photosynthesis.


But that’s not all plants require. Micronutrients are also essential to plant health; plants just need less of them to thrive. Elements like Copper, Iron, and Zinc, to name a few, each play a small but essential role in growth.

Secondary Nutrients

In between macro and micronutrients are secondary nutrients like Calcium, Magnesium, and Sulphur. 

Typically the leading causes of nutrient deficiency, these middlemen are often forgotten about to the detriment of the plants. In most cases, they are required in lesser amounts than macronutrients but far more significant amounts than micronutrients.

The Role Of Fertilizers

When planted outdoors, these minerals are present in the soil, replenished through the natural cycles of decaying organic materials around the plants. But, when planted in containers, there is no way for the nutrients to return to the soil over time.

That’s where fertilizer comes in. Whether you’ve planted in containers or have nutrient-deficient soil outdoors, fertilizer will improve the nutrient levels in the soil, making them available to the plants for healthy, vigorous growth. Commercial fertilizers combine macronutrients (NPK) with a few micronutrients in the correct ratios for the specified plants.

Fertilizers come in many forms. Houseplant fertilizers are typically water-soluble, allowing you to add them to the soil when you water your Areca Palm. They can also be dry and pelleted, added to the soil to slowly break down over time as you water the plants. 

Some organic materials can also act as a fertilizer, although they typically don’t contain high enough concentrations of nutrients to make up for the leaching in containers.  

Signs Your Areca Palm is Lacking Nutrients

Signs Your Areca Palm is Lacking Nutrients

Areca Palms are moderate growers. If you notice the plant isn’t getting any bigger or producing new leaves in its peak growing season around spring and summer, it could be lacking nutrients (you’ll also want to rule out any common areca palm pests and diseases). Nutrient deficiency of one particular nutrient or a nutrient imbalance can also cause the leaves to turn yellow in a spotty or irregular pattern.

Remember, nutrients slowly leach from the soil in containers over time as the soil breaks down. Once the plant has used up all the nutrients in the soil, there will be no more left to sustain the plant. 

If your Areca Palm has been in the same pot for several years without a soil top-up, that is also a sign it needs feeding and repotting. 

For more, see our in-depth guide to the best soil mix for Areca Palms.

When and How Often Should You Fertilize Areca Palm?

When and How Often Should You Fertilize Areca Palm?

Fertilize regularly in spring and summer, limiting the amount applied in fall and stopping altogether in winter. This will provide nutrients in the peak growing season when the roots and leaves need them most.

How often you apply the fertilizer will depend on the type of fertilizer used and the instructions on the packaging. Some fertilizers are higher in concentration, applied less often than those of a lower concentration. Slow-release fertilizers are typically applied once per season, slowly breaking down over time to provide nutrients when needed.

As a general rule, most liquid houseplant fertilizers can be applied once every 4 weeks when you water the plant. Designed for use in containers, they typically contain nutrients in lower concentrations to avoid a build-up of salts in the soil that can damage the roots. Always check the label and apply according to package instructions – never more.

The Best Fertilizer for Areca Palm

The Best Fertilizer for Areca Palm

Beloved for their foliage, a fertilizer high in nitrogen is important. Potassium is also essential for healthy root growth and photosynthesis. 

For Areca Palms, and palms in general, a fertilizer higher in nitrogen and potassium and lower in phosphorus is suitable. A good fertilizer should also contain secondary nutrients and micronutrients to keep the foliage lush and prevent yellowing.

Most houseplant fertilizers are suitable for Areca Palms as they are designed for leafy tropical plants. Miracle-Gro produces a general water-soluble houseplant fertilizer but also has a specialized dried palm fertilizer ideal for your Areca Palm.

For a slow-release option, you can try these fertilizer spikes. Simply stick them into the soil around the plant and water as usual. Over time, the spikes will release essential nutrients into the soil without burning the roots.

How to Apply Fertilizer

Fertilizer application will depend on your chosen fertilizer. Water-soluble options are diluted in water and poured over the soil with your regular watering routine. Fertilizer granules should be added to the top layer of soil and gently mixed in to release nutrients as you water the plant.

Each fertilizer will have different instructions for application. Follow these instructions exactly to avoid damaging the plant. More nutrients do not equal more growth and will more than likely burn the roots or result in a nutrient imbalance.

Key Considerations

Applying the wrong fertilizer or applying it at the wrong time can have several adverse effects. If you notice the leaves have turned brown soon after fertilizing, you may have overdone it. Prune the affected leaves and hold off on fertilizing until the problem is resolved.

Lower or older leaves may also droop or turn yellow and begin to die off. This can indicate a build-up of excess nutrients and salts in the soil, resulting in problems with growth. If the soil has a visible layer of fertilizer collecting on the surface, it’s best to repot the plant into new soil to prevent further burning and lack of saturation when watering.

Fertilizing Areca Palm FAQs:

Do Areca Palm need fertilizer?

Areca Palms will grow best with regular applications of a suitable fertilizer. They may survive for a while without additional nutrients, but will ultimately stop growing if not fertilized.

When should I fertilize my Areca Palm?

Fertilize regularly in spring and summer, limiting the amounts in fall and stopping altogether in winter. Fertilizer is generally applied once a month but differs according to the products used.

What is the best fertilizer for palm trees?

General houseplant fertilizer is suitable for Areca Palms, but they will grow best when given a specialized palm fertilizer high in nitrogen and potassium and low in phosphorus.

Is Miracle Grow good for Areca Palms?

Miracle Grow produces a granular palm fertilizer ideal for Areca Palms. Their balanced houseplant fertilizer is also suitable and easier to apply as it is water-soluble.

Are used coffee grounds good for palm trees?

Dried coffee grounds can be applied around your Areca Palm to add small amounts of nutrients and some acidity, but aren’t a replacement for a fully balanced fertilizer to provide the plant with everything it needs.

Wrap Up

With a bit of extra care and attention, Areca Palms offer rich meaning and symbolism and can look incredible indoors with their arching leaves and strong stems. An essential part of this extra care and attention is fertilizer, ensuring the soil contains all the nutrients required for strong, healthy growth.

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