Knowing the Best Practices for Trimming Palm Trees

As with any trees, the best method of trimming palm trees requires some understanding of what you’re looking at when holding those shears in your hands. You can’t just decide that the tree looks overgrown and needs a trim. Knowing which parts of the tree are removable is key, as is WHY they might look the way they look so that you don’t just remove them and move on, assuming the palm tree is now good to go.

Recognizing Deficiencies in Your Palms

For instance, yellow fronds – while less than pretty to look at –generally indicate an issue such as a potassium deficiency. In the case of trees with potassium-deficient older leaves, removal of these leaves reduces the number of healthy ones within the canopy because the loss of nitrogen transfers to the next oldest leaves as the tree works to support the newer healthier ones. While in place, potassium-deficient leaves still provide potassium to healthy leaves in the absence of potassium from the soil. Removal can even speed the level of decline and lead to the death of the palm.

Clock It

Healthy palm trees should have a circular, 360-degree canopy of fronds. When trimming palm trees, never remove any leaves above what experts consider the “horizon” of the tree. Picture a round clock face as you look at the tree’s growth of leaves. Removing anything from nine to three o’clock would be harmful to the tree, so avoid trimming that area.

Fruitful Trimming

When trimming palm trees, the flowers and the fruit are areas for which you can use your discretion. Fruit from the palm can often become litter in your yard, so if you’d rather avoid that, trim off the flower stalk before it becomes a heavy fruit stalk that’s more difficult to prune.

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Trimmers Versus Shedders

One important fact that you might not know is that not all palms require pruning. If they’ve been properly fertilized, palms that have crown shafts, which are regions of smooth, tightly clasping leaf bases at the top of the gray trunk, should never need pruning. This type of palm naturally rids itself of old leaves, shedding them in a matter of days. However, when half-dead leaves remain on the palm for months at a time, that is a sign of potassium deficiency and the tree should be fertilized rather than simply pruned.

By contrast, old leaves in palms without crown shafts generally shed their leaves naturally like palms with crown shafts. In some instances, dead leaves may require manual removal. These dead leaves usually drop down and hang against the trunk. Potassium-deficient leaves usually simply discolor and remain in their normal position within the canopy.

If palms are over pruned, the smaller size of the canopy often causes reduced photosynthetic capacity as well as greater production rates of smaller leaves. Over time, the tree may also develop a trunk whose diameter is smaller.

To learn more about pruning palm trees, read this article from the University of Florida.

When to Trim

Trimming palm trees is mostly for visual appeal and is not limited to one time of the year or season. Trimming palm trees of their dead leaves before hurricane season is advisable to decrease the possibility that leaves become dangerous projectiles.

Trimming Don’ts

When trimming palm trees, cut leaves close to the trunk. Never cut into the trunk using a machete, which can ultimately cause wounds that allow trunk rot. This is also why forcefully pulling off leaves should always be avoided. Pulling hard-to-remove leaves often results in a small strip of trunk tissue tearing away and causing wounds that allow the establishment of trunk rot. It is also important that climbing spikes never be used for trimming palm trees, as the wounds they cause never heal and make the tree vulnerable to diseases and pest insects.

At Executive Landscaping, Inc., we know that trimming palm trees requires a certain amount of skill and expertise. Our clients trust us with the care of their trees, ensuring that they maintain the health and beauty of the palms that are a part of their landscaping.

Call the landscaping experts at Executive Landscaping, Inc. today to learn about the services we offer in trimming palm trees!