Palm trees are low maintenance when kept as houseplants. Even though they typically need little attention, the plants benefit from the removal of dead and dying palm fronds. These fronds are taking nutrients from other parts of the plant, as well as creating a messy looking plant. The dead leaves may be a result of environmental conditions, expanded growth, or disease. Removing them isn't as simple as pulling them off. For the health of the indoor palm plant, it is critical to use the proper tools and technique to cut dead palm fronds.
Fertilize your palms about a week before pruning if they have not been recently fertilized. Use a fertilizer recommended for palms.
Select the proper tools. Pruning shears should be large enough to get the job done--you could use sharp scissors on smaller plants, and you may need loppers or a saw for a large indoor palm.
Prepare your pruning tools by cleaning and sharpening them. Pour boiling water over the blades or wipe a cotton ball covered in rubbing alcohol over the blades. Cleaning the blades before using them will stop the spread of disease.
Sharpen shears, scissors, and loppers or have them sharpened for you. Dull blades will result in ragged cuts. This opens the palm houseplant to disease and pest infestation.
Wear gloves as protection when removing dead palm fronds.
Lift up each dead palm frond, pulling it away from the rest of the plant. Holding it steady with one hand, use the other hand to cut through the petiole (the stem of the frond) where it meets the leaf sheath that joins it to the trunk. Cut with a steady motion. For large fronds you may need a helper to hold up the frond as you use loppers or a saw to prune it off.
Leave healthy fronds be. Those growing horizontally or upward should not be cut off.
Avoid nicking or cutting into other fronds or the trunk. Do not damage the bark on the trunk, because puncture wounds on palm trees do not heal.
Check out the dead fronds for signs of disease or fungus. Abnormal spots are a good clue.
Throw dead fronds away. If they are afflicted with disease, place them in plastic bags and dispose of them. Putting them in a compost pile will enable the spread of the disease.