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 “Hurricane Cutting” Harms Palms!

WoodlandsOnce again hurricane season is upon us. It is time to stock our emergency supplies and review our evacuation plans. As part of this preparation, many people mistakenly think that hurricane cutting their palms will help them withstand high winds; but the opposite is true.

“Hurricane Cutting” involves removing all but the top 4-5 fronds from a palm. Often these remaining few fronds are then cut short. Palms, like all plants, receive nutrition from its leaves through photosynthesis. Excessive removal of fronds can lead to slow starvation. Symptoms include weakening of the trunk, causing it to become narrower at the top like a pencil top; and reduced resistance to disease and insects.

Pruning also reduces shade and increases the need for irrigation. Palms have only one growing point at the crown. If this is destroyed, the plant will die.

Dried brown fronds may be removed without harming the palm. Yellow fronds are still feeding the plant, and should not be removed. If you wish to prune a palm, at a minimum, leave all the fronds above the 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock horizontal. No more than one-third of all fronds should be removed at one time. Never climb a palm with spikes or puncture the trunk in any way. Open wounds can invite pests and disease.

The ONLY time hurricane cutting is appropriate is when a palm is transplanted. Minimizing its metabolism reduces the stress caused by transplanting, whereas hurricane cutting established palms increases their stress.

If your palm has yellow fronds, it is removing deficient nutrients like potassium and magnesium from older fronds to nourish younger fronds. Adding palm fertilizer with the proper minerals can supplement this deficiency. Palms cannot live on vitamin and mineral supplements alone, they need the food created by the leaves. Healthy fronds, proper watering and fertilizing will help keep palms strong through hurricane-force winds.

Posted On Wednesday, June 5, 2013

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