Monday, August 18, 2008

In the process of creating Medicinal Monday's I also thought it would be a good idea to add in a Tuesday Tips series. Every Tuesday I will post a new Gardening Tip. For my first Tuesday Tip I have chosen Palm Tree Trimming Techniques. I have seen a lot of Palm Trees that are damaged when they are trimmed because people don't know enough about them, so I thought I might give some basic rules to pruning Palm Trees.

The first major rule to pruning Palm Trees is to avoid pruning them at all. Palm Trees are designed to shed their fronds on their own. Just because a Palm frond is turning colors or maybe even browning does not mean that it is done contributing to the tree. The browning of fronds is a process called Trans location of Nutrients meaning that the Palm Tree is recycling the nutrients of the frond back into the heart of the Palm Tree itself. If you remove the fronds during this process then you weaken the Palms defenses against molds and fungi. Allowing the process of self-pruning or self-cleaning is especially important to the species of Palm Trees with a "crown shaft" which is a green shaft located just below the fronds.

If it is necessary to prune the Palm Tree then a general rule is applied to Palms that you should not cut fronds that hang below a parallel line to the ground or the 9:00 to 3:00 o'clock rule. This is called a Hurricane Cut or a Candle Cut and is very damaging the the tree. If a Hurricane cut is repeated over and over it will create a condition know as a "pencil top" which is the narrowing of the trunk just below the fronds. The name Hurricane cut comes from the fact that during Hurricane winds, the head of the Palm Tree may snap off where the thinning occurred and become airborne.

So there you have it plain and simple, just don't prune your Palm Trees and they will be happy and healthy. And remember the 9:00 o'clock to 3:00 o'clock rule if you absolutely must trim those Palm Trees. Here are some examples of Palm Tree Pruning. I did not take these pictures.


Here is a classic example of the Hurricane Cut. This technique should be avoided at all costs.


If pruning is necessary, then this is the technique you want to use. Notice how there is a line parallel to the ground. This is called the 9:00 to 3:00 O'clock rule.


I hope you found this post helpful.




11 comments:

Perennial Garden Lover said...

Great tips on pruning Palm Trees. I would of never thought to prune one of those. People have a tendency to go overboard with the pruners sometimes. We have the same problem here with Crepe Myrtles. I don't trim mine, but some people really chop the tops off and they look bad.

Pomona Belvedere said...

Great idea to have palm pruning tips on here. I'd often wondered what the rules were, but never found out.

I'm not quite clear on the 9:00 to 3:00 rule: does that mean that any fronds that are within that arc should NOT be cut?

Lets Plant said...

Pamona, just think of a clock. Where the 9 is in relation to the 3 creates a straight line across. Do not cut any fronds below this line.
Perennial, that's good because you shouldn't do it at all. Thanks guys for stopping by.

elaineb said...

you keep saying 'do not cut below' also in main text. I think you mean "you should not cut fronds above a parallel line"

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Anonymous said...

Unknowingly I always use to follow 9 to 3 rule. After looking at the tips here I feel good about it. I need one more tip, my palm tree is next to path which leads to my main door. Due to the growth of the palm tree it is creating a considerable large crack on my pathway. How can I make sure palm tree is not damaging my pathway ?

K. Bennett said...

We have a pindo palm which was very damaged in snows this year. We live in Augusta Ga. All fronds are brown. Should we trim all fronds, or leave some, or are we just kidding ourselves that this tree will survive?

Lets Plant said...

Hello K. Bennett. When you say ALL Fronds are brown do you mean ALL or mostly? Can you see a new shoot coming from the center? How big is your Pindo? If you can see a new shoot coming from the center then you should definitely be okay. I don't like to cut all fronds off of anything. There is a general 3 o'clock 9 o'clock rule. I refrain from cutting any fronds that are above 9 o'clock or 3 o'clock. Brown doesn't necessarily mean dead. They are still helping the system by providing what nutrients they have left in them. When a frond is completely dead it will fall off. Trimming is for looks not health. I would let the Pindo Palm go and just see what happens. Just keep an eye out for that new growth.

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Sylvia Sanderson said...

I'm so grateful with the proper techniques of tree trimming! We need to get our trees trimmed. I've also been thinking that we should probably remove the tree growing over our roof. What would you suggest?
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Dave Thompson said...

Never heard of a palm tree needing to be trimmed before. It must be hard to get up that high with the right equipment to trim the tree. The guys that do that must be very brave, because there is no way you could ever get me that high in the air. http://www.meadtree.com/services/tree-care.php