FloridaGardener's Blog
Mar 25

Written by: host
3/25/2010 7:23 PM

I wrote this back in June of 2008: “Coconut palms are popular landscape plants in many tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Coconut palms are also popular in more temperate areas. In Florida, this palm came be grown successfully from the Keys as far north as the Palm Beaches on the east coast and Fort Myers on the west coast. Because of global warming that range is moving further north and there are even some coconut palms growing happily in Orlando, Florida (there is a nice one in the courtyard of Bob Marley - A Tribute To Freedom in CityWalk and near the dolphin tanks at Sea World in Orlando). But, be ware, that the first hard freeze will most likely kill a coconut palm not growing in a sheltered area outside of its tropical/subtropical range.”

Well, after the extended cold weather we had in Florida a few months ago, many coconut palms  in numerous areas of Palm Beach County are showing the effects of cold weather on them. Below is a picture of a coconut palm damaged by the cold.

Unhappy Palm Tree

If your trees look like this it is time to help them to start looking their best again. DISCLAIMER – If you are not hale and hearty, have power lines close to your plants, are afraid of very long saws and ladders; please go back inside and Google “arborist” + your zip code. Let a professional do the work. If you get injured, do not tell me about it – I warned you.

First you will want to saw-off those brown and damaged fronds. Do not go crazy! Make sure that you can leave at least five to six healthy fronds on the palm’s crown. These fronds help to feed the palm tree via photosynthesis. If you cut-off too many healthy fronds, the palm tree will starve, get sick and die.

Let me say here that there are specialized saws for cutting palm fronds; they are curved saws that reside on the business end of an extendable fiberglass pole. Take care when using these, especially if you also need to use a ladder to reach the high fronds on the palm as the extended pole saw can be difficult to handle and balance with when you are on the ladder.

 Happy Palm Tree -- fertilized and pruned.

Fertilization is very important to keep you palm trees healthy. The reason why is that Florida’s sandy soil does not do a very good job of holding nutrients so when it rains or you irrigate the fertilizer is washed away from the palms roots and becomes unavailable to your plants. I like to feed my palms with a well balanced slow release fertilizer like Vigoro® Palm, Ixora & Ornamental Granular Plant Food. During certain times of the year in Florida you will see many retailers pushing Epsom salt for use as palm fertilizer. If you purchase Epsom salt to feed your palms, please be aware that it is not a well balanced fertilizer and your palms may suffer from nutritional deficiencies if you feed them only on a diet of Epsom salt. Consider Epsom salt as a treat for you palms, not the “main course”.


For more information about caring for your coconut palms, see this article.


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