How to Prune a Sable Palm


Sable palms are known botanically as Sabal palmetto, and commonly as Sabal or Cabbage Palm. According to Floridata, sabal palms are considered hardy, as they thrive in USDA zones 8 through 10 and can tolerate frost and temperatures around freezing that would kill or badly damage other palm species. Sabal palms require no regular pruning--except to remove dead fronds or when the tree is to be transplanted or moved.

Step 1

Cut the stems and remove dead fronds that are dried and brown and clearly look desiccated. Place a clean cut at the bottom of the frond stem 1 or 2 inches from the trunk. Be careful not to cut into the trunk tissue when severing the dead frond stem.

Step 2

Allow the cut frond to fall down to the ground unaided. Never pull or rip the dead frond down and off, as this can damage the trunk by inviting disease and insect activity. If the frond remains attached by even just a few dangling fibers, cut again with your pole saw or loppers to free it.

Step 3

Prepare your sabal palm for transplanting by cutting off 1/2 to 2/3 or all of the tree fronds before digging it up and moving it. According to the University of Florida, sabal palms transplanted with one third of their fronds in place survived 64 percent of the time, those with all of their fronds removed, survived 95 percent of the time. Prune and transplant sabal plams in the winter and spring to reduce stress on the tree and speed recovery.

Things You'll Need

  • Loppers
  • Pruning pole saw


  • University of Florida IFAS: Sabal Palmetto Cabbage Palm
  • Floridata: Sabal palmetto
Keywords: pruning palm trees, pruning sable palm, transplanting cabbage palm

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.