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How to Trim Potted Palms

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017

Healthy potted palms grown indoors require infrequent pruning. Occasionally remove dying fronds or browned blades to keep the palm looking tidy. Palm trees that have been stressed to the point of the fronds browning or yellowing will need to be pruned more severely, since once the fronds are damaged they cannot be returned to a healthy green hue. Palm fronds are easily be damaged by drought, excessive heat, sun burn or lack of macro and micro fertilizer nutrients; controlling for these will significantly lessen the need to prune your palm.

Cut back a dying brown or yellow palm frond down to just 6 inches above the crown or bud of the palm. Use a handsaw or loppers to cut just the dying frond stem but not cut into the stalk beneath it. Make a horizontal or upward bias cut into the stalk; do not angle it down which can damage the adjacent stalk. Refrain from pulling the stalk out or away from the tree and then cutting it as this can damage the crown and invite disease.

Remove random individual yellowing or browning blades on a frond by cutting them with clean secateurs at the base of the blade snug up against the stalk. Refrain from cutting into the stalk at all and just remove the individual blades at their base and discard.

Water and feed the palm after you prune it to reduce stress on the palm and spur fresh growth. Use a granular palm food fertilizer labeled to include micro-nutrients according to recommended dosing directions. Water thoroughly to soak the soil and fertilizer letting the excess water drain away so that the roots are not standing in water for any extended period of time.


Things You Will Need

  • Secateurs
  • Loppers or hand saw
  • Water
  • Palm fertilizer