The Do's and Don'ts of Palm Pruning

Palms are an iconic sight in Florida and help give your landscaping that coastal look and feel. Palms thrive in our Florida climate but do need regular pruning to ensure they are healthy and well -kept. If not cared for properly, they can become overgrown, prone to disease or injury and make a mess. Dead fronds and seed pods should be removed regularly to keep your palms looking spectacular year-round.

Risks of Pruning Improperly

Enthusiastic gardeners may feel inclined to prune up to a 45 degree angle but this is a fast way to deprive a palm of nutrients. Food is produced by taking the sun’s energy and converting it into sugar and when living fronds are removed, the plant reacts by using its stored food to produce more leaves. This results in unnecessary stress on the tree.

Palms also need their fronds for shelter to protect the palm bud and the new growth it produces. When too many fronds are removed, the bud is exposed to the elements. Performing a “hurricane cut” is not healthy for palms and can result in the loss of the tree.

In order to prune without harming palms, it’s best not to remove fronds above the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock horizontal line. Otherwise, palms may suffer from frizzle top, a manganese deficiency that causes deformity and yellowing, or Thielaviopsis,  a disease that causes the trunk to rot and the top of the palm to fall.

Palm Fertilization

Aside from over-pruning, frond discoloration can be a sign of nutrient deficiency due to poor fertilization. Palms generally respond well to palm fertilizer and this can be an effective way to provide nutrients that are lacking to keep your palm healthy. However, if fertilization is applied incorrectly, it can harm the palm and even kill it so it’s imperative to be knowledgeable about proper fertilization to avoid costly mistakes.

Ensure your palms are getting the best care.