Spruce up palms before summer hits

They don’t need to be pampered, but an occasional prune and a regular tidy will ensure your palms look their best.

While they are low maintenance, a few small tasks now will ensure your palms look amazing for the warmer months. Put aside a few hours to clear away dead fronds and remove nutrient-sapping growth. Best of all, palms rarely need pruning, so you’ll only need a saw and ladder.

What to wear

Always wear sturdy gardening gloves when trimming palms. Many species have sharp spikes along the edge of their leaves, which can cut through the flesh of your hand if you’re not careful when pruning.

Fruit, flower and stems

Many palms develop fruit, flower and stems as the weather warms. They use up a lot of the palm’s energy and stored nutrients – removing these items early will ensure your palm grows healthily during the warmer months. Flowers can be removed by hand, but you may need secateurs or a small saw to remove the fruit and stems.

Leaves and fronds

In ideal conditions, palms will shed their dead or dying fronds and leaves on their own. However, if your plant has many brown fronds, you may wish to help it along. When standing firmly on the ground or on a stable ladder and wearing gardening gloves, give the brown fronds a good tug – they should come loose from the trunk. If the petioles (the blades that connect the frond to the trunk) don’t give way, use secateurs or a small saw. Make the cut about 5cm along the petiole, away from the trunk or you could cause permanent damage.

Look for any fronds that have been badly bent and broken. These fronds will ultimately die and, if the thick middle section is broken, won’t be providing any value to the tree. They can be removed, but will need to be cut, not pulled.

Dispose of all trimmed material in a compost bin away from the palms, as they can attract pests carrying diseases.

Trim lightly

Many expert gardeners do everything they can to avoid pruning or trimming palms. Palms gather most of their energy through their fronds, so don’t remove healthy fronds (or even partially dead ones) without a good reason. Take care not to trim a palm that’s lacking in potassium (indicated by leaves with yellow spots), as removing fronds will only make the problem worse. Cutting away fronds also makes the plant susceptible to disease, so only do it once a year – if at all.

Summer’s on its way, so make sure you know how to take care of your garden following storms.