When Is the Best Time to Prune Palm Trees?

When Is the Best Time to Prune Palm Trees?

When it comes to shaping our saplings, we know the drill: the dormant season is the best time for pruning.

Yet, there are about 2,500 trees that go against this golden rule–palm trees!

Unlike many tree species, palms don’t follow a strict pruning schedule.

The best palm tree maintenance relies on the appearance of your individual tree. Learn how to determine if it’s time to trim your palm tree below.

When should you trim a palm tree?

You only need to prune palms to rid trees of brown fronds (palm leaves), flowers or fruit.

This means your pruning project isn’t subject to a specific time of year. Instead, the best time to prune palm trees is when it looks like they need it. Really!

To be safe, though, look up and examine your palms before hurricane season. Remove any dead fronds from your palms to prevent storm damage.

What is the proper way to trim a palm tree?

You should never prune any green fronds. Only remove dead or dying fronds.

Think of your palm tree like clock. You can prune from 9-to-3 or even from 10-to-2. But never prune your palm tree down to the 11-1 position. That’s called hurricane pruning, and it’s bad for your tree.

The more fronds removed from your tree, the more stressed the tree will become.

If you’re trimming a small palm tree, check out our step-by-step guide on the best way to trim palm trees. Wondering how to trim tall palm trees? Typically, you should call a certified arborist to ensure a safe prune–for you and the tree.

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  • The Tree Doctor January 5, 2018 > Hi there, Phyllis! It depends on what kind of palm tree it is. Side trimming may not affect the health of the tree severely, but it will definitely eliminate the aesthetics. If you are still concerned with this approach, it is best to have a certified arborist come evaluate the tree to make a recommendation. Hope this helps, Phyllis.
  • Phyllis Johnston December 30, 2017 >I live on a corner lot in a RV park south of Mesa, Az. Previous owners landscaped and planted a lovely palm tree right at the corner of the yard. It is now about 5 feet high and is about 7 feet in diameter. All fronds, right from ground level are richly green. My neighbors are complaining that they can’t see around the corner when they are driving and have been advocating to have the maintenance guys come and prune (chop) it. Twice I have run out and stopped this from happening but I fear they may arrive when I’m not here to protect the poor thing. It is fed by UG sprinkler and as much as I want to be a good neighbor I don’t want to compromise it’s health by pruning it. Never mind that it will never be as lovely if I start trimming away the fronds from the base to at least 4 feet above ground—even if I remove only two feet a year. Moving it would cost a pile, and there is really nowhere else I can put it. Is it safe to defoliate it half way up the trunk or will that kill it? I’m Canadian, so haven’t any experience with palms!
  • The Tree Doctor May 26, 2017 >Hi Val. We agree - palm trees truly are beautiful! We don't recommend cutting your tree half way down. If you cut the top of the palm off, it won't grow anymore. Your best bet is to discuss options for pruning your tall palm tree with a professional tree doctor or arborist in your area. They should have the tools to do the job right! Hope this helps, Val!
  • Val Horn April 27, 2017 >My palm tree has got to tall to prune now and I was wondering if I cut it down half way will it grow again, or will it be so stressed that it may die. I am not sure what else to do at the moment it is looking very beautiful and has fruit which the birds and bees love. Please advise. Thanks
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