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Nothing says summer like palm trees, and with a beautiful, magnificent palm growing indoors, your house will always feel like summer! Indoor palms have a wide array of options. Among popular options, considering the areca palm versus the majesty palm; which is right for you? We’ve researched these two, popular palm varieties to help you determine the best for your home based on size, growing conditions, appearance, and cost.
Areca and majesty palms can both grow in containers, and are similarly priced palm varieties. Size difference and adaptability make the areca palm a better choice for an indoor palm and the majesty palm a better choice for an outdoor palm. Both palms require similar growing conditions in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 – 11, but some key differences to consider include:
- are smaller; 4 to 10-ft. indoors, and 25 to 30-ft. outdoors.
- grow in clusters.
- have wispy fronds and grass-like appearance.
- adapt to partial sun.
- are larger; 5 to 15-ft. indoors, and 40 to 80-ft. outdoors.
- grow a single stem.
- have feathery fronds and a woody stem; the “traditional” palm appearance.
- prefer full sun.
Keep reading, and we’ll delve into the characteristics of areca palms and majesty palms and how to best care for each variety. After careful review, if you are still unsure which palm best suits your home, we’ll suggest alternative palm varieties for you as well, to help narrow the search even further.
Is A Majesty Palm The Same As An Areca Palm?
No, majesty and areca palms are not the same plant. An easy way to tell the difference is by looking at the fronds. The fronds on areca palms tend to be more relaxed and droop, while majesty palms have very sharp fronds.
Another difference is the base of the palms. Areca palms tend grow in clusters, for a visually softer base. In contrast, majesty palm produces only one stem to provide a sturdy, and sometimes woody, base.
While they do look similar and have fairly similar needs, they are different plants. Likewise, one will usually be better suited to your unique needs and space. Thankfully, despite their differences, both majesty and areca palms are non-toxic to humans and animals.
Areca Palm Characteristics
How Big Do Areca Palms Get?
Small sized areca palms (Dypsis lutescens) are sometimes mistaken for palm grass. Because they grow in clusters, they are reminiscent of bamboo and can grow similarly into a screen.
Size is the main perk of areca palms. They can get up to 10-feet tall indoors, but they stay small for the bulk of their life and grow slowly. Kept trim, areca palms can also be kept between four and six feet tall. Outdoors, they usually grow much larger between 25 and 30-feet.
Growing Conditions For Areca Palms
Areca palms grow well either indoors or out, but require moderate to high maintenance. Moderate to full light is best for areca palms. Indoors, they water between two to three times per week. Outdoors, water only once or twice a week depending on the heat and how much room they have.
To thrive, areca palms need a rich, well-draining soil. A common mixture of one part loam, one part peat moss, and one part sand works well. However, it is not uncommon to simply use a standard potting mix. As long as the palm has sufficient drainage, the areca is fairly adaptable.
Overall, areca palms are somewhat hardy and adaptable. Indoors, they will survive even if you forget to water them for some time. However, outdoors is a bit trickier. Being a tropical plant they do not enjoy cold weather. Areca can grow year-round in zones nine through 11, but usually needs to be moved indoors for the winter in any other zone.
Areca palms preform fine indoors, but they will likely not grow to their full potential. Growing them outside with plenty of sun and water and the occasional trimming is optimum. However, if you just want to grow a cute, somewhat small palm indoors, they will preform just fine.
How Much Do Areca Palms Cost?
As far as palms are concerned, areca palms tend to be on the cheaper end. Since they tend to be smaller and less heavy, shipping fees are usually lower. Likewise, they are common but not as popular as more “traditional” palm varieties like the majesty palm.
Areca Palm Growing Tips
Try using filtered water when watering your areca palm. This helps prevent mineral buildup, and is especially important for potted palms. If you start to notice a white layer on the top of the soil, it is likely a salt buildup. Using filtered, room-temperature water is not detrimental to plants.
Majesty Palm Characteristics
How Big Do Majesty Palms Get?
Majesty palms (Ravenea rivularis) are more “traditional” style palms because of their woody trunk. Likewise, their show-stopping fronds distinguish them from most other palms. Outdoors, majesty palms can tower to heights of 80-feet. Indoors, majesty palms grow between five and ten feet tall; depending on the container size and space available the height of indoor palms will vary and can reach 40-feet.
Growing Conditions For Majesty Palms
Majesty palms require moderate to high maintenance when grown indoors, and are best for outdoors in tropical areas. Full sun is really what they prefer, but they are fairly adaptable. They preform fine indoors, but do not typically thrive. The best way to grow a majesty palm indoors is to buy a small palm and plant it in a pot with room to grow. Water once or twice per week. Since palms grow slowly it will do fine indoors for a few years. However, be aware that after a few years it will likely need to be moved outside or rehoused.
Like the areca and other palms, majesty palms dislike cold weather. In zones nine through 11 majesty palms thrive outside. Any colder and the palm may start to die. If you suspect cold weather is coming, and your majesty palm is too big to move indoors, try insulating the plant and adding mulch to the base.
Majesty palms need a rich soil with sufficient drainage. A mix of one part loam, one part peat moss, and one part sand is ideal. With the majesty palm, perlite and vermiculite can be substituted for sand. However, majesty palms do not tend to be as adaptable with their soil and do not typically thrive in standard potting mix.
If you have the space to let majesty palm grow, applying a palm tree fertilizer every so often is a good idea to promote healthy growth.
How Much Do Majesty Palms Cost?
Because of their popularity and larger size, majesty palms may cost slightly more than areca palms and other palms. If you are looking to keep a majesty palm indoors, it is both easier and more cost-effective to buy a young, small plant. Because palms grow slowly, young plants will usually stay a similar size for a long time.
Majesty Palm Growing Tips
To promote new growth in majesty palms, remove old fronds that have turned yellow. This not only promotes growth and proper distribution of nutrients, but also helps keep majesty palms looking nice and well groomed.
Alternative Indoor Palm Varieties
If you still are not sure whether the areca or majesty palms are right for you, we can suggest a few alternative, indoor palm varieties that are similar:
When it comes to needing a houseplant, cat palms are generally a great option. They are fine in indirect light and need to be watered around twice a week. Cat palms typically grow between four and six feet tall. Cat palms are also mostly pest resistant and do not need much care aside from the occasional trim. They are non-toxic to both pets and humans.
Sago palms are small palms with dark green leaves. They need moderate to full light but are easy going as far as care is concerned. In particular, they have low water needs, only once or twice a week. They also do not need to be trimmed aside from taking off the occasional dead leaf. The primary caution with sago palms is they are potentially toxic to pets, so should be kept out of reach.
Areca and majesty palms are from tropical zones, so each requires warm temperatures and well-draining, rich soil. Given partial to full sun, both palms will be vibrant. Priced similarly it can be difficult to choose, so consider that areca palms are stylish and readily grow indoors. Majesty palms, on the other hand, do better outside or in homes with high ceilings, so they can grow taller.
Check out our blogs, for even more care tips for indoor palms: