Last Updated on January 4, 2021 by Matt Gardener
Pruning the palm tree has always been a divisive topic amongst gardeners and experts. While many think pruning is essential for the palm tree’s growth, a lot more suggests that the process is not necessary at all. This second group says pruning does nothing but hurt the tree.
Like other trees, the palm tree needs pruning albeit carefully and at long intervals. There are many reasons why a tree, even the palm tree, should be pruned. We will be discussing these reasons and more as well as how to trim palm tree trunk like a pro – even if you’ve never done it before.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Why Trim Palm Tree Trunk?
- When Should You Trim Palm Tree Trunk?
- Tools for Trimming Palm Tree Trunk
- How to Trim Palm Tree Trunk
- Step 1: Sterilize the Tools
- Step 2: Prepare to Climb the Tree
- Step 3: Get Rid of Dead Leaves
- Step 4: Get Rid of Loose Petioles
- Step 5: Trim Developing Fruits and Flowers
- Step 7: Discard Trimmed Fronds Properly
Why Trim Palm Tree Trunk?
If there is much ado about trimming a palm tree, then there is undoubtedly a reason why. Earlier, gardeners thought trimming a palm tree would make it grow faster. But recent studies have shown that this is not true. So, why trim a palm tree trunk?
The very first reason to trim palm trees is to get rid of dying or dead palm fronds. When you eliminate these dead fronds, you prevent breakage damage.
The second reason is to eliminate breeding places for pests. Scorpions, rats, and squirrels often nest in these dead fronds and eat away at your plant. Trimming the palm tree ensures they don’t, and this leaves your tree healthier and more robust.
If the palm tree in question is near homes and buildings, you should trim them as too many fronds can be a fire hazard. They are also dangerous in windy times as they may break off and hit something or someone, causing mortal injury.
You have to trim the palm tree to get to the flowers, seeds, and fruit. People trim the palm trees located at walks and driveways so they can see better while driving or taking a walk.
When Should You Trim Palm Tree Trunk?
When is the best time to trim the palm tree trunk? The best time to prune a palm trunk is during spring. However, there are some things you’d notice on your tree, which are indicators that you need to prune your tree. Here are some of those indicators. If you do not see any of these indicators, do not trim your tree.
- Dead fronds. These are usually white, yellow, or brown and they hang down looking wilted.
- Broken fronds.
- Fruit stalks and palm flowers. They slow tree growth and use energy.
NB: Yellow spots on old palm fronds do not mean your tree needs pruning. It means the tree is lacking potassium. What you do in this case is supply the palm tree with extra potassium.
Wait for one year before pruning. If you prune a potassium deficient palm tree, other fronds will turn yellow and lose nutrients.
Tools for Trimming Palm Tree Trunk
What are the tools needed for trimming a palm tree trunk? The type of tools you need for trimming a palm tree may vary, depending on the palm tree’s height.
Here are some of the trees below:
- Serrated knife: You can use this for fronds with a diameter equal to or less than an inch. You can also use the knife to cut flower stalks.
- Shears or big clippers: This is for removing fronds with diameters higher than an inch.
- Hand saw: The hand saw is perfect for medium-sized trees.
- Chain saw: This saw is for giant trees, and you should be careful when using it. It is safe for you to contact an arborist if your tree needs a chain saw.
- Disinfectants: For sterilizing the tools to avoid the transfer of diseases.
- Whetstone/Bench grinder/Oilstone: For sharpening your blades.
- Ladder/Lifts/Step stools: For climbing the tree.
- Gloves: For protecting your palm against sharp frond edges.
- Googles: For protecting your eyes from sharp, small, and flying debris.
>>> Read Also: Essential Gardening Tools
NB: If you are a novice in pruning palm fronds, especially if the tree is huge, please employ the services of a professional-an arborist.
How to Trim Palm Tree Trunk
How do you trim the palm tree trunk? Follow the steps below.
Step 1: Sterilize the Tools
The first thing to do is to sterilize trimming tools to prevent the spread of diseases. Wipe away debris and dirt from the cutting tools. Then soak the tools in a disinfecting solution.
For this solution, mix three parts of water with a part of bleach. Soak the cutting tools in the solution for five minutes. Rinse with water and air dry.
Step 2: Prepare to Climb the Tree
You must ensure your climbing gear is in order before climbing. Some palm trees are quite tall, and any carelessness or slip could lead to a fall, which can be fatal.
While you are looking out for your safety, ensure the climbing equipment is not damaging the tree trunk. If the tree trunk damages while trimming, your palm may not recover.
Step 3: Get Rid of Dead Leaves
Use your knife or saw to cut off dead fronds, starting at the base of the tree’s foliage. Cut 2 inches from the tree trunk. Remove fronds below the angle 90 lines, even if they are green. Be careful not to cut the tree’s crown. If you do, your palm will die.
It is unnecessary to trim palm species such as Kentia, Chamadoreas, Jubaea, and King palms. They self-clean as dead fronds drop naturally.
Step 4: Get Rid of Loose Petioles
Pull the loose petioles slowly. If they are stiff and won’t come off when you apply little pressure, leave it be.
Step 5: Trim Developing Fruits and Flowers
If the palm is a flowering species, clip off the fruits and flowers as they take nutrients and prevent fast growth.
Step 7: Discard Trimmed Fronds Properly
Fronds have sharp edges, and if you leave them lying around, they might hurt someone. Please put them in an organic waste bin.
Also, pick up flowers and fruits and dispose of them accordingly. If you leave them lying around, you may invite pests.
>>> Read Also: How to Treat Fungus on Palm Trees
How to trim palm tree trunk is what every gardener who has palm trees should know. But if you do not, it is wise to call in experts who can help you do that.
Please do not leave the tree without any fronds, especially the green ones, as they make food for the tree. And if the tree cannot make its food, it will look unhealthy and weak.
Your palm tree does not need you to prune it continually, as this will affect its growth. It is better if you only trim your tree once a year for maximum results.