Palm trees are a staple of Florida’s landscapes, but sadly they are also commonly over pruned or poorly pruned as is the case pictured here with these Mexican Fan Palms. Palms pruned this severely are a beacon for nearby pests, particularly the Palm Weevil which are opportunistic insects that burrow in and eventually kill the palm. A palm that is stressed, wounded or weakened such as from over pruning is also more susceptible to the many fatal palm diseases, some of which are transmitted by insects or infected pruning equipment.
The oldest palm fronds are on the bottom of the canopy closest to the ground and naturally turn brown and die. As they do, the palm absorbs micronutrients from those fronds, therefore feeding new growth. Eventually, the dead fronds fall down and hug the trunk creating a “skirt” where many wildlife species find refuge. The skirt can remain on the palm or if it is undesired, can be pruned off. Just be sure to only cut off fronds that are completely brown, stem and all, to reduce stress and help prevent nutrient deficiency. Also, make sure the pruning equipment is sterilized with a bleach or alcohol solution between each tree. Ideally, keep a full 360 degree rounded canopy and avoid “hurricane pruning” or the “pineapple” cut. And never should the outer bark of the trunk be pealed down or trimmed off as seen in these poor tortured palms shown here.
For more information on caring for your palms, call your UF/IFAS Marion County Extension Service at 352-671-8400 or visit https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep443