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How to Trim a Palmetto Palm

palmetto palm trees in front of atalaya castle image by Jorge Moro from

Palmetto palm, also known as Cabbage palm or Sabal palmetto, is a perennial palm tree found in the southeastern part of the United States, the Bahamas and Cuba. Palmetto palms have the ability to self-prune when their old leaves, called fronds, are knocked off by wind. However, if trimming does become necessary, trimming back old fronds and seed pods can be beneficial as long as it is done correctly and with moderation in mind.

Trim off any fronds that are a brown or yellow and any flowers with your pole tree pruner. Trim back to about 1 inch away from the trunk.

Remove any boots (old leaf stems) that are loose and come off easily by hand.

Position your ladder on steady ground, and climb it, using your pole tree pruner to reach dead fronds that you cannot reach from the ground.

Recycle the cut fronds by composting them and using them as mulch around the tree.

Trim A Palmetto Palm

Sanitize the blades of a pair of sharp pruning loppers using a solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. Soak the blades in the solution for five minutes. Wipe off the blades and allow them to air dry completely before using them. Discard the damaged crown fronds into a green-waste can rather than composting them. Snip off the flower or fruit stalks once they dry out completely. Cut them off at their point of origin, as close to the trunk as possible. Remove the skirt of dead fronds around the base of the crown to improve the appearance of the tree. Mulch around the base of the tree with the dead fronds, if desired, or compost them. Snip off all the fronds 2 inches above the base using pruning loppers.


If you are trimming your palm in the fall, trim the seed pods as well as the fronds.


Palmetto palms can be damaged during trimming, so only trim the tree when necessary and never overdo it. Avoid cutting green fronds, because this will make the palm vulnerable to disease and high winds. Be careful not to damage the trunk of the tree, it will not heal well.

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