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How to Prune an Indoor Palm Tree

By Kelsey Erin Shipman ; Updated September 21, 2017

Indoor palm trees are a perfect way to add tropical flair to your home. Kentia and Sago palms can grow to impressive sizes while indoors and stay healthy with the proper care. Some palms may naturally lose fronds as they acclimate to indoor settings. Most potted palms need little pruning but do well when dead or dying fronds are regularly removed. When pruning, it is crucial to take care of the bark and avoid exposing the underlying layers.

Fertilize 1 week before pruning. This will encourage immediate growth at the pruning cut and protect the plant from any associated shock.

Determine the size of shears necessary. For large palms, you may need loppers or a hand saw. Using the wrong size of shears can mean uneven cuts, damaged bark and potential accidents.

Use sharp, clean pruning shears. Dull blades make uneven cuts and are most likely to tear the bark while dirty blades can spread disease. Sharpen your pruning shears before each use and clean with boiling water afterwards.

Shape into a tree. On the lower half of the tree, cut new shoots at the base of the stem in order to maintain old growth and focus the palm’s energy on upper branches.

Remove dead or dying fronds. Cleanly cut off yellow or brown fronds at the base of the stem.

Prune fronds that protrude into walkways or furniture. Use your shears to cut off any fronds that are in the way of daily activities. Removing a continually battered leaf is healthier for the plant than daily stress.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Hand saw
  • Boilding water
  • Fertilizer

Tips

  • Prune lower leaves just before winter. This will allow the plant to focus its limited energy on fewer fronds.
  • Regularly turn your indoor palm so that all sides receive equal light. This will help keep the leaf growth balanced and lessen the need for pruning.

Warning

  • Over-pruning can be deadly to an indoor palm tree. Always err on the side of caution.