Palms (Pruning)

Pruning palms is one of the most misunderstood aspects of palm culture. It is very common to see landscapes indiscriminately hack at palms. Skinning palms has also become popular. For some reason they believe they can periodically remove most of the fronds and not harm the tree. This is not true.

All green fronds produce the food needed to grow properly, in order to produce a healthy palm. The reduction of the green leaf area reduces food production, and in turn, the health and growth of the palm is placed in jeopardy.  When green fronds are removed on a regular basis, the health and vigor of the palm is compromised. Uninformed pruners may want to remove all of the leaves they think are in the way, but make sure as many green fronds as possible are left.

A good rule of thumb is to never prune off more of the palm’s leaves in one year than are produced during that time. If at all possible, only remove yellow or brown fronds. We recommend at least two rows of mature fronds should be left on the palm. Mature fronds are those found below the current year’s flowers.

Also, many arborists use climbing spikes when pruning palms. This is not recommended for the health of the tree as spikes can damage the trunk.  Ladders, non-spike climbing gear, and hydraulic lifts should be used.