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Trimming Palms

palm tree trimming

Expert Tips for Trimming Palms

Pruning is an important part of maintenance for any type of plant or tree, but many people seem to forget about palms when they go about their task of pruning. Low maintenance though they might appear, palms actually do require regular pruning to keep them healthy and growing strong. Even so, it’s important to know when, how and what to prune before you start trimming things down.

According to the experts at the University of Florida in a 2015 article on pruning palms, “Many palms maintain a set number of live fronds, and the regular turnover of foliage occurs as dying lower fronds are replaced by new ones at the apex. These dead fronds are not detrimental to the health of the tree.” Which means that they might be dead, but that isn’t necessarily an indicator that something is wrong.

Out With the Old…

As the article goes on to say, “If there is an excessive number of older yellow fronds, determine the cause before pruning. There could be a severe nutrient problem caused by a potassium or magnesium deficiency that could worsen if the palm is pruned or fertilized with high nitrogen or the wrong type of fertilizer.” In a case like this, you’ll need to seek the advice of an expert or conduct a soil test to determine deficiencies and how to correct them.

Trimming Down

The most common reasons for pruning palms generally include the desire to improve the palm’s appearance, which can simply be achieved by removing lower fronds that are dead or dying. Safety is also a factor, as dead and dying fronds and loose petioles – the stalks attached to the fronds – can be weakly attached. Weak attachment increases the potential for falling, and falling fronds can put people and property at risk for injury – especially if they happen to fall from a great height.

If a palm is fruiting, pruning is also a means of removing fruit clusters, which can become both messy as well as hazardous if they fall. Some palms produce an overabundance of seedlings near the plant, and removing flowers or fruit during pruning reduces the number of potential seedlings. Another reason for pruning a palm is to remove sprouts from the base of the trunk, which will help clean up its appearance.

The Right Cut

“It is preferable not to remove live, healthy fronds,” the University of Florida advises. “If healthy fronds must be removed, avoid removing fronds that are growing horizontally or those growing upward. Fronds removed should be severed close to the petiole base without damaging living trunk tissue.” That said, it’s best to use a small chain saw to remove dead fronds. To avoid injuring surrounding fronds when you’re cutting developing flowers and fruit stalks that have grown in between live fronds, use a handsaw.

While you’re pruning, don’t get overly ambitious and exuberant with trimming things down. Stick with the fronds, the fruits and flowers and leave the trunk alone. According to the University of Florida, “There is little reason to shave or sand the trunk smooth. The pineapple shape crafted at the base of date palms is not necessary for good health of the palm.”

As you begin landscaping with palms, remember that they’re not maintenance-free. Pruning them will be necessary, but you’ll need to know what and how. At Executive Landscaping, Inc. we have years of experience in planting and maintaining palms for clients all across the Gulf Coast, and we can make your fronds a masterpiece.

Give the team of outdoor experts at Executive Landscaping, Inc. a call to learn more about how we can make your palm trees an Executive Masterpiece today!