Palm triage

a large fallen palm tree with it's root ball exposed
Some palms are just too big to recover

In addition to trees, we had plenty of palms go down in Hurricane Ian.  While a Tree care Professional/Florida Certified Arborist may best to determine if a palm is salvageable, there are few palm triage aftercare decision making points to consider.  Not all damaged palms are destined for the woodchipper!

First, there are no guarantees!  For surviving palms, it may take six-months or longer for a palm to show if it is truly going to make it – patience is required.  Some palms such as Sabal and Royal palms are very wind resistant.  A Royal palm striped all of the fonds can still recover over time – it may take up to a year for the full replacement of the canopy to occur.   If a single-stemmed palm is broken in two, it is done and should be taken down.  The palm has only one bud and once that is severed, it is a goner.  Multi-cane palms have the ability to send up new stems as part of recovery.

Uprooted palms can be saved.  Treat these palms just like newly planted palms which may involve some heavy equipment and extra hands.  Safety first – some palms may be just too big and dangerous to practically lift and support.  Large specimens will need supports and bracing for at least six months – maybe longer.  Proper watering to get each palm established is critical as new roots emerge from the palm base.   With both uprooted and intact palms, leave all green fonds on even if they are broken but still attached.  This fonds will be needed to assist with supporting the palm’s regrowth.

If the palm is upright, continue on with the normal fertilizer application program – 8-2-12-4 (or 8-0-12-4) applied in November, February and May as per label directions.  In August use a 0-0-16-6, again as per label directions.  For palms that have been replanted, no fertilizer until you see new growth initiate.

While you may feel the need to apply copper-based fungicides to hurricane damaged palms to protect them from fungal and bacterial infections, there appears to be no benefit to this action.  If you have a severely damaged palm with still a chance of survival, a copper fungicide drench to the bud will not hurt it as per label directions – limit this to only two applications.

One last consideration is that any palms that were inundated with saltwater flooding will benefit from applying freshwater to leach the salt out of the soil.  Salt damage may show up later as frond leaf tip browning.

Bottom-line, some palms can be salvaged after a hurricane with time, patients and the proper equipment.  For more information on all types of questions related to palms, please contact Ralph E. Mitchell, Director/Horticulture Agent for UF/IFAS Extension – Charlotte County. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or  Connect with us on social media. Like us on Facebook @CharlotteCountyExtension and follow us on Instagram @ifascharco.

Elliott, M. L. & Broschat, T. (2021) Hurricane Damaged Palms in the Landscape: Care after the Storm.  The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.


ralph mitchell
Posted: October 18, 2022

Category: Disaster Preparation, Home Landscapes
Tags: Charlotte County, Hurricane, Hurricane Ian, Hurricane Recovery, Palm Damage

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