The Golden Cane Palm: Magnificent golden indoor palm

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Written By Martin Cole

Plantsman, gardener, plant-obsessive

Golden Can Palm
Golden Cane Palm – Dypsis lutescens

With its graceful, arching fronds in vibrant yellow and green shades, the Golden Cane Palm makes a striking indoors plant.

Its tropical appearance means that it stands out on its own as a specimen plant, or as the focal point grouped together with other plants.

If you place it near a bright window where its colourful foliage can shine, its feathery leaves can brighten up any kind of indoor space.

If you live in the right part of the world, the Golden Cane Palm it is also a great garden plant. As you can see from the picture below, it is one I used to grow in my garden when I lived in Sydney, Australia.

However, in this article we’ll look at everything you need to know to grow the Golden Cane Palm indoors – in cooler climes – which can actually be a bit harder than growing it outside in the warm.

Golden cane palm outside in my garden in Sydney

Golden Cane Palm – Indoor Palm: key facts

  • Scientific Name: Dypsis lutescens
  • Common Names: Golden Cane Palm, Areca palm, Butterfly Palm, Golden Feather palm, Yellow palm
  • Plant Family: Arecaceae
  • Type of Plant: Palm
  • Origin: Native to rainforests of Madagascar
  • Meaning of Name: Dypsis refers to a genus of around 140 species of palm trees and is derived from a Greek word meaning “thirsty”, referring to the water requirements of these palms. Lutescens means “yellowish” in Latin, indicative of the golden hues of the fronds.
  • Flower: The Golden Cane Palm produces small yellow blossoms, though it rarely flowers when grown as a houseplant. The insignificant flowers give way to orange-red berries.

Growing Conditions

Golden Cane Palm (Dyspsis lutescens) care guide

  • Light: Bright, filtered sunlight is ideal, such as that from an east or west-facing window. A slightly shaded south window can also work well.
  • Water: Allow the top inch of soil to become partially dry between waterings.
  • Humidity: Golden Cane Palm thrives at 40-50% humidity. Use a room humidifier to supplement humidity. Mist the plant’s leaves occasionally to replicate natural rain.
  • Temperature: verage household temperatures between 60-75°F (16-24°C) suit it best. It can tolerate slightly cooler or warmer conditions between 50-80°F (10-27°C) but may experience slower growth
  • Soil: A commercial all-purpose potting soil amended with perlite offers the quick drainage these palms require
  • Fertiliser: While actively growing in spring and summer, use a balanced liquid fertilizer at half strength every 2-3 weeks. Reduce feeding frequency in fall and winter

Golden Cane Palm: Detailed light requirements

Native to the shaded understory of Madagascar’s rainforests, the Golden Cane Palm is adapted to bright but indirect light levels indoors. Therefore, an east or west-facing window provides the right amount of light, without intense direct southern sun exposure that could scorch the plant’s foliage.

For most dramatic golden colouration, try to provide the brightest light possible without causing leaf burn. This can be a bit hit and miss, but one way of doing this is positioning the plant where it gets lots of bright morning light, rather than hot afternoon sun.

If light levels drop too low, the fronds may become darker green in colour rather than showing the golden tones.

Rotate the plant every week or two so all sides receive equal light exposure.

Keep foliage free of dust buildup by wiping occasionally with a damp cloth to maximise light absorption.

Soil and Watering

The Golden Cane Palm requires a porous, well-draining soil mix that allows excess moisture to pass through readily.

It is a good idea to to add organic material like peat moss or coco coir fibres to a standard potting soil to retain some moisture, but also add sharp drainage materials such as perlite or small bark chips to prevent waterlogging.

Using a pot with multiple holes enhances drainage capacity compared to one drainage hole.

Check soil moisture by inserting a finger – water again when the top inch becomes slightly dry. Take care not to overwater, as soggy soil suffocates roots and leads to fungal issues.

Allowing pots to sit in drainage water spreads disease. Pour away excess water that flows into the saucer after watering. Maintaining even moisture at the roots promotes lush, graceful fronds.

Reduce watering frequency in winter during natural dormancy.


Pruning needs are minimal for the Golden Cane Palm when grown as a houseplant. Remove yellow or brown fronds as they naturally die off to maintain an attractive appearance.

The lowest leaves often form an untidy “skirt” around the bare stem. While these help conserve humidity, removing them improves aesthetics and air circulation.

Prune using a sterile, sharp tool like garden snips or secateurs for clean cuts that minimise injury risk.

Ideally you should wipe tools with rubbing alcohol between plants to prevent potential disease spread, although I have to say this isn’t something I routinely do.

Avoid removing green healthy fronds, only pruning dead growth to guide the plant’s shape. Discard all debris once finished pruning.

Golden Cane Palm frond


Outdoors, the Golden Cane Palm root system can be extensive, spreading wide and deep into the soil to anchor the plant and seek out water and nutrients. Unsurprisingly, therefore, although relatively slow-growing indoors, Golden Cane Palms can eventually become root-bound or top-heavy in its pot.

You should therefore look to transplant into a larger container with fresh potting mix every 2-3 years in early spring before growth resumes.

Select a pot only 2-4 inches wider than the current size. If you put the plant in a pot that is much bigger it can inhibit root development and nutrient uptake. Carefully remove from its existing container and loosen matted outer roots before replanting at the same level. Support the entire root ball when transferring it into the new container.

Always use new potting soil to renew fertility – the old mix will be depleted of nutrients. Water thoroughly after repotting and shelter from harsh sun until it reestablishes.


You can propagate new Golden Cane Palms successfully from divisions or suckers that form near the base, or occasionally from seeds following the appearance of flowering in mature specimens.


Removing suckers or offshoots in spring or summer using a sterile, sharp knife maintains vigour, though leaves damage easily.

Slowly dig out the sucker including intact roots, retaining some protective soil. Transplant into a small container filled with light, well-drained potting soil. Maintain warm temperatures of 70-80°F until new growth is visible, then gradually introduce it to brighter light conditions.

Water sparingly initially to prevent rot in the high humidity.


Propagating these palms by seed is a bit hit and miss as, seed germination rates can be unreliable without optimal greenhouse conditions.

Germination can take up to several months with continual warmth and moisture needed to trigger growth.

These are also quite slow growing plants, so it will be a long wait until you have a mature specimen.

Golden Cane Palm: problems and solutions

  • Brown leaf tips – Increase humidity levels or water more consistently
  • Lower yellow leaves – Avoid overwatering soil
  • Drooping, stunted plants – Check for root rot and improve drainage
  • Nutrient deficiencies – Repot in fresh soil every few years
  • Mealybugs – Use an insecticidal soap or neem oil spray
  • Spider mites – Apply horticultural oil or predatory mites
  • Leaf spots, blights – Apply appropriate fungicides and remove affected leaves
  • Root rot – Allow soil to dry adequately between waterings

Pest Control

Mealybugs and spider mites rank among the most common pests affecting Golden Cane Palms. Regularly inspect the undersides of foliage for early signs like webbing or white flecks.

Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions causing stippling damage while mealybugs transmit disease-causing organisms between plants as they feed.

Apply horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps to suffocate insects while being gentle on plant tissues. Repeated applications may be needed to break pest reproduction cycles.

Maintain humidity levels by misting plants daily as drier air enables pest problems to multiply rapidly.

Removing severely infested fronds limits pest populations.

For severe infestations, introduce biological controls like predatory ladybugs or lacewings.

Disease Prevention

Overwatering contributes to multiple disease issues with Golden Cane Palms. Allowing soil to completely dry between irrigations prevents fungal pathogens from flourishing.

Water early in the day so foliage dries by night time.

Avoid splashing water onto fronds during irrigation which spreads spores.

Ensure suitable air circulation with fans to limit ambient humidity preventing pathogens.

Sterilize shears after pruning to decrease injury sites vulnerable to infection.

Discard severely diseased fronds promptly at first onset of symptoms.

Use of appropriate fungicides or anti-microbial treatments at early stages limits disease once confirmed.

Winter Care

Looking after our house plants in winter is one of the biggest challenges we fcae as indoor plant lovers.

As a tropical plant, the Golden Cane Palm prefers consistent warmth and humidity year-round. So it is best to keep away from cold drafts from windows or vents that dehydrate foliage.

Maintain minimum temperatures above 55°F which generally requires supplemental heating. But water less frequently in winter allowing soil to become slightly drier between irrigations.

In winter the foliage can gradually yellows and the plant can drop its lower leaves naturally due to shorter day length and lower light exposure affecting photosynthesis.

Supplemental grow lights can help help maintain colour vitality. But, if you don’t want to go that far, make sure you clean dust off fronds to maximise the light getting to the fronds.

Stop feeding the plant completely while it is dormant and the return spring brings renewed active growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal environment for Golden Cane Palm?

Golden Cane Palms thrive in bright, indirect light. Place your palm near a window with filtered light for the best results. Make sure to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Maintain a consistent temperature, as sudden changes can harm your plant. Golden Cane Palms also appreciate a humid environment, so consider using a humidifier or placing a tray of water nearby to increase humidity around the plant.

What are the best ways to pot a Golden Cane Palm?

When potting a Golden Cane Palm, choose a container with adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Use well-draining, slightly acidic soil, such as a mix of peat and perlite. Make sure the container is large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system, allowing room for growth. When repotting, be gentle with the roots to minimise stress on the plant.

What is the growth rate of a Golden Cane Palm?

Golden Cane Palms have a moderate growth rate, typically reaching a height of 6 to 12 metres (20 to 40 feet) outdoors. However, when grown indoors, they tend to be smaller, generally growing to about 2 to 3 meters (6 to 10 feet) tall. To encourage healthy growth, provide proper house plant care, including appropriate lighting, watering, and regular fertilising with a balanced liquid fertiliser during the growing season.

Are there any special benefits to growing Golden Cane Palms indoors?

Yes, Golden Cane Palms offer several benefits when grown indoors. Aside from their aesthetic appeal, they’re known for their air-purifying qualities, as they help remove harmful pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air. Additionally, their lush, tropical appearance can provide a calming ambiance, making them an excellent choice for enhancing your living space.

Other great indoor palms

See our guide to the best indoor palms and the individual guides to caring for these other indoor palms:

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