The Best Way to Prune Palm Trees (Step-by-Step)

The Best Way to Prune Palm Trees (Step-by-Step)

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of palm trees?

The scene probably includes a light breeze, warm sand and turquoise water washing ashore. That is why we love the slice of paradise palm trees bring to our landscape.

Because palm trees exude such bliss, it’s our job to give them the best care possible. Proper palm tree trimming is key to keeping these treasures healthy and thriving.

Scroll on to learn how to prune palm trees – step-by-step.

Step 1: Inspect the Tree

Old or dead palm tree leaves—called fronds—should be at the top of your pruning list. They’re yellow or brown on the outside and may be harboring pests underneath.

Also, check stems for flowers or fruit. Both can slow tree growth by providing food or shelter for pests.

Step 2: Plan the Prune

Before you begin, remember this key palm tree trimming tip.

Prune only to remove old fronds, flowers, fruit, or hazardous limbs.

Trimming beyond that creates a thin and narrow “hurricane cut” that’s not good for the health or look of your tree. Palm trees need a full, circular canopy of healthy, green fronds to continue to grow and defend against pests.

Step 3: The Precise Prune

Depending on the size of your palm tree, pruning shears or a saw will do the job. If you need to trim tall palm trees, call in a certified arborist. Attempting to climb a ladder, while wielding pruning tools, puts you in danger.

If you’re trimming a small palm tree, carefully prune fronds, flowers and fruit leaving at least 2 inches of greenery on the trunk.

Working your way down, gently pull off loose blades—called petioles—from the trunk. If the petiole is hard to remove, leave it be.

Need help pruning palm trees? Schedule a free consultation, or comment below with any palm pruning questions.



  • The Tree Doctor September 4, 2018 >Hi Liz, Most palms have the male and female flowers on the same tree, so there is no difference in pruning. If fruit is objectionable, such as with queen palms or coconuts, then they may be removed as needed. Or the flower spathe may be removed early on to prevent fruit formation. As far as the fronds, only remove dead (brown) ones. Hopefully, this helps
  • Liz Hadley September 2, 2018 >Is there a difference in how male and female palm trees are trimmed? Does it make a difference?
  • The Tree Doctor February 28, 2018 >Hi, Allison. You can prune off the brown fronds, but make sure to leave the ones that are partially green. We also recommend fertilizing with a palm fertilizer that contains micronutrients to help the tree recover. Hope this helps, Allison.
  • Allison Sutton February 24, 2018 >Good day! We had a hard freeze this year in Florida and our medium palms took quite a hit. I don't know if I should prune them down to nothing or let them be. I also don't know if they are still alive (I sure hope so). Should I be giving them any nutrients as well? Thank you, Allison (I would attach pics if I could)
  • The Tree Doctor February 12, 2018 >Hi there, Steve. If the entire frond is brown, then you can remove it. Here if you have any other questions, Steve.
  • Steve Denfeld February 5, 2018 >Yes my have all brown branches the only part that is green is the very center. Is it safe to trim all the brown branches off?
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