Can I radically prune my palm?
September 6, 2016 6:57 AM   Subscribe

We live in Central Florida. Right by the walkway to our front door we have a palm plant that has four major trunks (picture 1, picture 2). I want to remove three of them.

When we bought the house over a decade ago it was fairly short, but it has grown to the point where several of the trunks impinge on the walkway. I would very much like to take a chainsaw and just cut off three of the four trunks, leaving the one that is growing straight up. Is this advisable? It wouldn't break my heart to just root the whole thing up, if removing 3/4 of the plant will kill it. But I would prefer to put that off until next year if I can.
posted by Lokheed to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might want to contact these folks: I believe they will send someone out to take a look and give advice.
posted by tman99 at 7:36 AM on September 6, 2016

Having lived in a part of the world where all sorts of palm trees grow every which way: yeah, you can do this. It will be fine. In fact the single one remaining will likely grow a lot more happily. Maybe wait until October though as it will be more dormant then, meaning less of a shock to its system.

FYI about the only way to actually kill them is to pull them up by their roots. In other words, you could cut off all the trunks and new growth would likely happen. Been there, done that.

Be sure to watch carefully for new shoots growing from the base in the future so you can remove them when they're young rather than once they've established themselves as trunks. Lots easier to get rid of young shoots.
posted by fraula at 7:43 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

You might end up losing the whole thing if it gets a disease as a result of being weakened by trauma if you try to cut too close to the remaining roots. These Robellini palms are planted as seedlings together- each trunk is a different plant. Cut the undesirable trunks off, but not too close to the remaining trunk's roots. Don't try to separate the three unwanted ones from way down at root level and it will be fine.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 11:57 AM on September 6, 2016

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