When considering pruning your palms, you may think you need to “hurricane prune” your palm tree. Hold that thought before you do more harm than good. There is a misunderstanding that by removing almost all palm fronds, leaving only the youngest few, you create a more wind resistant palm. However, evidence suggests that it is not correct and “hurricane pruning” actually weakens palm trees and they could become more vulnerable to damage.
Proper Pruning Techniques
So what are some better pruning techniques when it comes to palms? First, only completely dead fronds should be removed. While yellow leaves may be unsightly, they are an indication of something going on. These leaves should be left on as they are still helping to support the palm through mobile nutrients, such as potassium (K).
A healthy palm tree should actually have a 360 degree canopy of leaves. However, often they are overpruned due to nutrient deficiency symptoms. Never remove any leaves above the horizon of three to nine (on a clock).
One other thing to consider when pruning palms are the flowers and fruit. It is fine to leave them or prune them. If you have a palm that produces fruit that you do not want littering the yard, it is actually easier to trim off the lighter flower stalk rather than waiting to prune a heavy fruit stalk.
Hiring a Certified Arborist
Please keep in mind, if you cannot safely prune a palm tree or any tree safely, it is best to hire a Certified Arborist to complete the task. These professionals are trained in proper pruning techniques, safety, and are up to date on the latest recommendations through continuing education classes. You can find a local Certified Arborist by visiting the International Society of Arboriculture online.
For more information on proper palm pruning check out:
First published September 2017. Updated August 2019.