Dwarf palm trees, such as the pygmy date, the dwarf palmetto and the Mediterranean fan palm require minimal pruning to maintain its attractive look. Pruning the palms too close to the trunk or at too high of a level causes disease or permanent damage to the tree. Other problems with severe pruning are trunk constriction or problems with water uptake. Dwarf palms grow well indoors in containers or outdoors in warm climates.
Cut off old, dead leaves that are dry at the base with a sharp linoleum knife in June or July. Make the cut close to the trunk, but take care not to cut into it. Some people consider dead leaves attractive on larger palms, but they detract from the beauty of dwarf palms. Never remove green, healthy leaves from the dwarf palm trees. If the base of the stalk or leaf is green, this indicates the leaf is not dead.
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Remove fruit or flower stalks if they give the dwarf palms an untidy appearance. Cutting them close to the base of the tree is acceptable.
Cut back diseased or damage limbs from the dwarf palms. This prevents the disease from spreading or damaged limbs rubbing against others and creating wounds.
Draw an imaginary horizontal line -- at the 9:00 and 3:00 position -- on the middle of the dwarf palm's trunk height. Avoid cutting leaves extending from the trunk above this line. Severe pruning above the horizontal gives the dwarf palm the appearance of a carrot or lion's tail and is not aesthetically pleasing. Outdoors this type of pruning offer little protection from strong winds.
A healthy, dwarf palmetto may only have five or six leaves on the tree. It has a slow growth rate and rarely grows taller than 4 or 5 feet.
The Mediterranean fan palm reaches height of up to 5 feet and is extremely drought tolerant once established.