What, Why, and How You Should Hurricane Trim Palm Trees
Quite a few palm tree owners and trimming service providers have adopted “Hurricane cutting” of palm trees.
But does it help or protect palm trees in hurricane season, or is it just another sales tactic by tree services to drum up business.
Let’s analyze the technique.
What is Hurricane Cutting Palms?
Hurricane cutting palms is a pruning palms method whereby you remove all the fronds of your tree, leaving behind only the youngest few leaves in an attempt to create a wind-resistant palm tree.
If the wind has fewer leaves to grab onto, then your palm has a better chance of survival.
Many passionate palm tree growers have objected to the idea of hurricane pruning. In fact, in some states, hurricane cutting is an offense, and violating the set rules amounts to fines and tree removals
Does it Work?
Hurricane pruning is the over-trimming of the palm tree. It is perfectly fine to prune palm trees once per year to remove any deal fronds, seed pods, and low hanging leaves, but over-pruning can lead to problems with the palm tree.
Hurricane cutting is mostly undertaken by lawn care companies who think they are doing the owner a favor. It is believed that by pruning most of the leaves off, there is a more extended period between prunes and the palm is ready for survival when a hurricane comes through.
Hurricane cutting does not work, and people just up damaging their palm trees. Over-pruning palms reduce the ability of the tree to produce food. By getting rid of the fronds, you will also be depriving your palm tree of the valuable food it needs. Palm trees take long to develop to full trees, which will hurt them in the long run.
This can lead to weaker palms when a hurricane finally rolls through and can lead to growth abnormalities, including trunk shape defects.
Pros and Cons of Hurricane Cutting Palms
Here are a few pros and cons of hurricane cutting palms
- Not one!
Properly pruning a palm tree is very much advisable, but do not over-prune or top a palm tree.
- Deprives your tree of necessary nutrients that assist in palm tree growth
- Leads to a reduction of the width of the palm tree trunk
- Destroys roosting places for insect-eating bats and other birds
- Make the tree over-all weaker and more likely to snap in a strong wind
- Looks ugly
- Can affect roots and how well the tree is anchored to the ground
How to Correctly Prune a Palm Tree
Pruning a palm tree is quite easy and requires removing any dead fronds, any seen pods, and the removal of all branches/ fronds/ leave below the horizon line.
See below for an illustration of proper palm pruning and a gallery of palm trees that have been trimmed correctly.
Do Palm trees fall over easily?
Palms are remarkable species of trees, and as they mostly found in the tropics, they have evolved to be remarkably resilient to tropical weather, including hurricanes and cyclones.
Palm trees relate closely to grass as they are what is known as a monocot. This means they have no hard-woody tissue like regular trees. They are porous and flexible through the trunk.
They can also thrive in sandy soils, and withstand exposure of salty soils and air.
Palm trees can fall, which occasionally happens, but typically it’s when a tree has been exposed to a disease like Thielaviopsis, a fungus disease that causes trunk rot.
Extensive insect damage to supporting structures can also cause palm trees to become weak and fall in strong winds, but under normal circumstances, Palm trees can withstand winds that range between 75 to 150 miles per hour.
When to Trim Palm Trees
Some palm trees don’t require any trimming, as they have self-shedding leaves like the Alexander Palms. For the most part, however, you will need to get an expert once every year or two to tidy your palm up.
If you want to prune your palms for safety and do it safely, I suggest getting in a certified arborist to ensure the job is done in a safe manner and for the benefit of the tree.