Palm trees are found all throughout Martin County, Saint Lucie County, the Treasure Coast, and Florida in general. They are used as hedges, specimen plants, and clusters to provide beauty and architectural stature in landscapes. They are also one of the more salt-tolerant trees and are heavily relied on for beachfront landscapes.

The Mednick Landscape Company wants to share with you some of their knowledge on how to properly care for your palm trees. We help you identify common palm problems, and give recommendations on how to avert these problems. We focus mainly on types of palms that are commonly found in the Stuart, Palm City, and Port Saint Lucie area. If you have questions about any other species of palm, please don’t hesitate to contact The Mednick Landscape Company at (772) 332-4651 or at

There are many misconceptions about palm tree care, and the one that represents the biggest problem is pruning. For this reason, we will focus mostly on pruning palm trees, and how to do it correctly so you do not harm your tree. Fertilization, another topic, is something that many people do not realize is vital for palm tree health, but it is also something we would rather consult with you on a one-on-one basis. 

Pruning Your Palm Trees

The Mednick Landscape Company provides information to its customers in Palm City, Stuart, Port Saint Lucie and the entire treasure coast about properly caring for and pruning palm trees.

There are many palm trees popular along the treasure coast that actually drop their palm fronds on their own when they are dead and ready… The Mednick Landscape Company spends a lot of time picking them up off the ground!  There are other palms, however, that do not do this.  While they don’t ever actually need to be pruned, almost all property owned prefer the aesthetics of a tree that is cleaned up and freed of dead, brown fronds. It is very important that this pruning is done with care and proper knowledge.  Discretion must be used because incorrect pruning can have devastating effects on the health of your palms.  

People do not realize when they see a partially yellowed palm frond drooping that palm trees are actually “translocating” the nutrients back from this dying frond into the tree, for newer growth the feed off of.  Palms are very efficient and salvage any nutrients possible to benefit new growth.  Removal of these palm fronds alone will not kill a plant, it will just not be able to benefit from the additional nutrients it could have otherwise retained.  What really has a negative effect on palms, and can oftentimes kill them, is hurricane cutting. 

Many landscaping companies try to capitalize on the fear of consumers having palm fronds flying through windows during hurricane season.  Priorities are different for everybody, but hurricane cutting is done much to the detriment of the palm tree. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a “hurricane cut” is, it is when the majority of the fronds are removed from a palm, with the exception of a few shooting vertically out of the very top of the plant. This will cause what is known as “pencil top”, which is the narrowing of the trees’ trunk underneath the crown of the tree.

Ironically, a service that is provided to supposedly make your property safer in a hurricane, actually weakens the tree makes it much more susceptible to snapping in half. Instead of having the possibility of a few palm fronds being blown around, you are now dealing with the possibility of an entire crown being removed and flung through the air. In Broward County, Florida, “pencil topping” has actually been declared as illegal because it presents a danger to the surrounding property and has been claimed as “tree abuse”. What might seem to be a simple mistake due to lack of knowledge could actually have dire consequences.

The Mednick Landscape Company discusses how improper pruning of trees can lead to

The rule of thumb, if you are choosing to prune your palms, is to imagine a horizontal line above the crown of the tree and not touch any fronds that are suspended above that line.  An alternative way to look at this is to view the top of the tree as a clock… anything above 3 and 9 o’clock should not be touched.  Unfortunately, most trees are pruned all the way up to 1 and 11 o’clock, which is increasing the likelihood of that tree falling victim to disease and/or pests. Try to only remove dead leaves, also. The nutrients in the living plants are what give the tree its immunity to diseases and pests.  A tree that is nutrient deficient is just like a human that is nutrient deficient… much more likely to have health issues.

The Mednick Landscape Company provides another image to demonstrate the effects of over-pruning resulting in a

It is as a property owner that you understand the correct way to prune trees.  This way you can insist that your landscaper goes about their work properly (many do not lend justice to their profession…while they may be hard workers… or not… they do not understand the needs of the plants they work with).

Additional Notes:

Trunk rot is one of the many diseases palm trees face.  One of the most common things that opens a tree to trunk rot is cutting into the trunk and pulling leaves off.  When you do this, you are opening a wound that allows the tree to be infiltrated by the disease.  Another way the tree becomes susceptible is when landscape crews use pruning spikes on their shoes to climb the tree.  With the equipment available to us today, it is best if we avoid climbing palm trees with spikes.

Palm trees should not have yellow leaves with brown spots…this most likely means they are potassium deficient and need to be fertilized. Also, it is okay to remove the seed pods if desired without worrying about consequences to the trees’ health.

Use your knowledge about palm tree pruning and palm tree care to make good decisions. If your palm tree dies, not only will you probably want to replace it, but the removal of the dead palm tree is a relatively expensive undertaking. It is something that can be avoided, so there is no reason to have to incur additional costs.  

Luckily, by reading this article you have been and smart property owner and equipped yourself with the knowledge to make an educated decision about how you approach your palm tree maintenance!