Posted on: May 27, 2021

About palm tree pruning

PalmTreeTrimGraphicHurricane season is coming, but it is NOT time to prune your Palms with a hurricane cut. 


Some pruners make easy money convincing homeowners that the “hurricane cut” keeps palms healthy and safe in a windstorm. However, save your money, because the experts including American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and the University of Florida (UF/IFAS) have years of proof - before and after hurricanes - that the opposite is true.[1] Be aware that some tree services are there mostly to cut for money rather than to nurture your healthy trees.


Excessive pruning can negatively affect palms in 3 ways: 

  1. The drastic reduction in canopy size decreases the ability of the palm to feed itself through photosynthesis, so leaves struggle to stay green.
  2. The stress of pruning to a “feather duster” shape can weaken a tree making it more susceptible to pests or disease.
  3. Repeatedly removing large amounts of the canopy can result in a thinner trunk, which ultimately weakens the palm and makes it more susceptible to damage in high winds.


Save the health of your trees with less aggressive pruning, consider the experts’ guidelines: 

  • A healthy palm should have a 360 degree canopy. Only remove dead leaves.
  • If you hate the look of a full canopy, then just do not prune any fronds off the palm above ``an imaginary line drawn from 9-3 o’clock 
  • County Extension Agents and Univ of Florida IFAS offer free science-based advice.

Never remove leaves above an imaginary line drawn between 9 and 3 o’clock.

[1] 1. Professor Timothy Broschat (UF) 

2. American National Standards Institute. Tree, shrub, and other woody plant maintenance—standard practices (pruning). National Arborist Assn

3. Prof. K.  Pfalzgraf.  On the pruning of palms in Palms 44:47–49.

4. USA Today “Extreme pruning puts Florida. palm trees in peril” 


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