How to Trim Potted Palms

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Palms are among the most elegant of houseplants. Grown from seed in containers, common interior houseplant palms like kentia palm (Howea forsteriana), parlor palm (Chamaedorea), majestic palm (Ravenea), lady palm (Rhapis excelsa) and areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) can acclimate to the lower light and drier humidity levels in the home. Trim your potted palms for aesthetic reasons to remove yellowing, dried and brown foliage and stems.

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • Pruners (secateurs)

Instructions

  • Cut the browned or diseased palm frond at the base where it joins with the swollen trunk.

  • Make cuts that are crisp and thorough, removing the frond without any tearing of fiber or lingering stem strands. Dispose of the frond in the outdoor compost pile or in the garbage, cutting large fronds into smaller pieces to fit in the rubbish bin if needed.

  • Remove any leaflets that have browned or become diseased on healthy green fronds. You can snip the leaflet at the point where it attaches to the central petiole stem of the palm frond. Do not cut a leaflet in the middle, because the rest of the leaflet will yellow and die.

  • Trim off any flowering structures as they emerge, if desired, before the flowers open and shed pollen. Remove them by making a crisp, singular cut at the base where the stem meets the trunk or frond stem.

Tips & Warnings

  • The amount of trimming a houseplant palm needs should be minimal if the palm is located in a bright spot with some natural light and it receives the appropriate amount of water. Do not overwater houseplants.
  • Palms may yellow and drop leaves as they acclimate to a new location in the home where airflow and light differs from their previous location.
  • When roots of palms grow out of the bottom of the container's drainage hole, find a slightly larger container into which you can transplant the palm. Do not trim palm roots.
  • Do not use large-growing or spiny-trunked palms as houseplants. Trimming these palms is a temporary solution because eventually the palm's trunk or canopy of fronds will outgrow its space in the room.
  • Always pay attention when using scissors or pruners while snipping the houseplant.

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