Palm Tree Trimming

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Palm Tree Trimming And Pruning

To insure the overall health and growth of your palm trees, it is important to trim and prune them the right way. Improper palm tree trimming can have a devastating affect and will severely injure the tree.

If trimming palm trees is done incorrectly diseases such as “Fusarium Wilt” can be transmitted. It can cause the tree to reduce vermin needed for health. Palm trees will have problems during the winter if pruning palm trees is not done the right way.

Proper Palm Tree Trimming

Palm tree trimming  should be restricted only to the removal of damaged leaves, yellowing or dead leaves, flower and seed clusters. Remove as little as possible if the palm tree has no deficiencies, and has a full green canopy right down from the bottom. If nutrient deficiencies exist, do not remove any leaves that are not completely dead.

Always remove no more healthy leaves than will be produced between prunings ( palms put on an average of one new frond per month during the growing season ). Mass removal is not healthy for palm trees, when mass removal is done about 80% of the food producing leaf area is removed. It is important when palm tree trimming is done to trim as little as possible ( even if it seems more convenient to do mass removal, so trimming does not have to be done again until 6 to 12 months ). Palm tree trimming should be done only when it is needed.

When Doing Palm Tree Trimming 

During palm tree trimming Do Not trim off live leaves that are on an angle originating above the horizon. In other words… imagine a horizontal line from  9:00 to 3:00. When removing leaves, cut the bases close to the trunk but not so close to where it is into the trunk which will damage the tree, for this can make the tree susceptible to diseases.

Never pull or tear off leaves by hand that come off easily, because it can cause wounds on the trunk also making points of entry for diseases. However, the Boots should be pulled off and not cut using a chainsaw for this can also damage the trunk. Never use climbing spikes to climb up the tree, they leave holes which makes the palm tree more susceptible for diseases and insects.

Palm Tree Trimming When Diseases Are Present

If there are signs of diseases on a palm tree when trimming, always sterilize the tools used before palm tree trimming is done on the next tree. This will avoid transmitting the disease to the other trees. I recommend using Pine-Sol® to clean and disinfect the tools with a brush. Simply, fill a bucket with water and Pine-Sol®.

The active ingredient in the Original Pine-Sol® Brand Cleaner is real pine oil. It’s the pine oil that gives this product its amazing cleaning power. A good ratio is, (2-parts Pine-Sol®, to 1-part water). Just scrub the tools you used such as a chainsaw or pruning shears, excessively covering all areas that came in contact with the tree.

Many times trimming palm trees is done incorrectly. It often leads to problems that can eventually destroy the tree. It is very costly to remove or replace established palm trees. Proper palm tree trimming will keep palms growing healthy, giving that tropical appearance in a landscape.

In this video Dr. Doug Caldwell from the University of Florida demonstrates the proper way to trim and prune palm trees.

Author, Kurt Kmetz

15 COMMENTS

  1. We have two Washington Palms (at least 30 ft high) in front of our home that we would like to have removed. We like them, just not where they are….we see the unpleasant part of the tree (the stump). Do you know of a local company that can remove and resell them?

  2. Hi, Stephanie
    I don’t know where you live so i advise you to call the local extension service in your area for a landscaping company that handles removal. Most companies will buy them if they can remove a palm that size intact and reuse them. They are large and established so I don’t know what agreement they will offer you. Hope you find what you are looking for.

    Thank You, Kurt

  3. I have a eureka palm and it is growing too tall in front of my front porch. I want to trim off the top of palm but my husband said it will kill the plant. What can I do to shorten it?

  4. JoAnn,
    Trimming off the top of your palm will probably do harm to it. There is a good chance it will have problems from severe pruning.
    Palm trees are not like hedges where they can be trimmed down to shorten them. There is no guaranty it will survive.

    Kurt

  5. Say,
    I’m in Houston & I have Mexican Palms of various heights. I have been keeping them trimmed by only cutting the dead dropping leaves. I saw cut, by hand, the dead palm stalk just above the split in the “Whale’s Tail”. As the tree grows these tails will split & can either be pulled away or they will fall off. My question is should the tree trunks be scraped as well? Will these dead palm leaves hurt my trees when the tree is too tall for me to reach?

    David

  6. David,
    Do not scrape the tree trunk for that can result in trunk wounds.Trunk wounds can serve as entry points for diseases. When removing leaves cut leaf bases close, but not into the trunk. Do not attempt to pull off leaves that will come off easily, this can also cause trunk wounds. Let the tails fall off. The dead leaves that you cannot reach should eventually fall off, but will take some time. They should not hurt the tree.

    Kurt

  7. Hi
    Hi,
    I have two Canary Date Palms approx. 15 ft of wood. Recently my landscaper trimmed these trees (pineappled) and now one tree is in very bad shape. I feel he butchered them and caused the tree to go into shock. I have been actively maintaining all my trees with ameri choice tree service with periodic fungal soil drenches as well as fertilization on set intervals. Since the trimming about 70 % of the fronds are brown and dying.(17 days ago to current), so I feel Fusirium Wilt can be ruled out due to quickness of the destruction.
    Please help with wisdom and advice I feel

  8. Craig,
    Have you contacted your landscaper? Is he insured? Does he have experience trimming palm trees? They have to be done the right way or damage can be done to the palm. Did he trim palm trees from another location and used the same saw to trim yours, and did not (sterilize ) the saw before he used it to trim yours? If he did not disease can be transmitted that way. To be sure if it is from the trimming contact your local county extension service, you could probably take a picture of it and email it to them and they will respond to you.

    Kurt

  9. Craig,
    I agree with all Kurt advised. To reinforce your thoughts; yes, the one doing the cutting may not have been qualified to perform that operation. I would pursue the Landscaping Company until satisfied.

  10. KURT,

    I HAVE A TRIPLE CLUSTER PALM THAT SEEMS TO HAVE A DISEASE. ONE OF THE TWO TRUNKS HAS BEEN TRIMMED (ALONG WITH THE OTHER TWO), BUT NEW PALM FRONS ARE “STUNTED, VERY LIGHT GREEN W/BROWN ON THE TIPS.
    DO YOU RECOMMEND REMOVING THIS ONE (CUTTING IT OUT)? CAN THIS TREE BE SAVED?

    THANK YOU,
    LINDA

  11. Linda,
    It is helpful to know the name (species) of a type of palm tree to diagnose palm problems. Especially with diseases, since some diseases can affect all types where as some affect only certain types. The same applies for palm nutrient deficiencies, some affect all palms but are more prevalent in certain types.

    Since I cannot visually inspect your palm it is harder for me to determine exactly what the problem is. Judging by your description it could possibly be a Manganese nutrient deficiency. If this is the case Manganese can be purchased by the bag at garden centers and applied to the soil around the root system.

    To determine exactly what the problem is you can contact your local county extension service, possibly you could email them a closeup photo of the affected area on the frond, and one of the whole tree. If not, cut off a portion of the affected area and bring it to them, along with a photo of the whole tree. Otherwise, have a certified palm tree specialist inspect the palm to determine the exact problem disease or deficiency.

    Do not cut off the new fronds affected until the problem has been diagnosed. If it is a nutrient deficiency it can be corrected and the tree will return to being healthy again. Some diseases can be fatal and cannot be treated, where as some can be treated thus saving the palm. Either way it will take quite some time for the tree to return to normal.

    Kurt

  12. Joyce,
    Regular palm tree trimming in central Florida is best done in March and in October. Only light pruning should be done each time. However, you can trim off any dead branches right now.

    In March if the palm has suffered cold damage from the winter, follow the directions in my article “Cold Damage Palm Tree And Shrub Care” found in the site category Trees And Shrubs. It is on the second page. When you click on category Tress And Shrubs scroll down to the bottom and click on the underlined blue writing “next entries”. Then scroll down to see the article.

    Thanks,

    Kurt

  13. we have bought a home in sun city florida, and have a large double crotched palm in the back yard that looks like the electric company has loped off half of the foliage of one and cut the other completely off about 7 feet up off the ground. can i cut that one down closer to the ground? and will that hurt the other one.

  14. Jan,
    I understand that if the palm is interfering with the power lines the power company has a right to have trimmed what is necessary. However, it sounds like the tree has been trimmed back too much.

    Make sure that you follow the guidelines explained in my article if you trim any more off. Improper pruning can severely damage palm trees leading to problems that will effect it’s health.

    If you feel uncomfortable about pruning it, have a reputable landscaping company that is Florida certified in palm trees inspect it and perhaps trim it for you.

    Kurt

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