How to Prune Pygmy Date Palms


The pygmy date palm, or Phoenix roebelenii, is a slow-growing tree that reaches 6 to 12 feet tall. Its fronds are 3 feet long and arch away from the curving trunk. This palm does well in a container and is popular near swimming pools in frost-free climates, such as southern Florida, southern California and Hawaii. It does well in partially sunny locations with well-drained clay or loamy soil. You can easily keep your pygmy date palm pruned to maintain an attractive shape and keep dead and dying fronds cut back.

Pruning a Pygmy Date Palm

Step 1

Cut off lower fronds when they begin to turn yellow.

Step 2

Trim the tips of new growth if it emerges looking yellow or black. Over-watering can cause this condition. Cut back on watering and monitor the condition of new growth. A plant disease may also cause the same problem with your palm. If disease exists, pruning this growth does not cure the disease.

Step 3

Prune off fronds that have yellow or black spots and then move your tree to an area that receives less direct sunligh, as this condition can indicate sunburn.

Step 4

Trim the tips of lower leaves if they turn brown and die---and then reduce the amount of fertilizer used on your palm, because it is the likely cause of this condition. Dry air and lack of water also cause the same condition.

Tips and Warnings

  • Because this tree has thorns, wear leather gloves when you work with it and be careful not to injure yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Strong garden loppers
  • Leather gloves
  • Tree saw, if needed


  • Pygmy Date Palm
  • Date Palm Trees
Keywords: pygmy date, palm trees, dying fronds

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, and She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.