Gardeners should use caution when pruning palm trees, as they are slow growing and over-pruning can be fatally damaging. Many tips for pruning palm trees caution the gardener about what not to remove and how to remove old growth without harming new growth. Palm trees grow new fronds one at a time, and fronds take three to five years to mature. Old growth provides nutrients for younger leaves, so gardeners should not remove old growth simply for aesthetic reasons.
Some palm trees naturally shed old leaves and stalks and should not be pruned at all. Yellowing on the oldest growth can be a sign of insufficient nutrients in the soil, so gardeners should consider the cause for dying leaves before simply removing them. Otherwise, gardeners should look for any unhealthy fronds to remove first. Signs of unhealthy growth include fronds that hang down instead of growing horizontally or upright, loose growth that easily pulls free by hand, browning, and dryness.
In addition to cutting away leaves, gardeners should remove fruit and seeds. Besides often being invasive, having unpleasant odors and attracting unwanted pests that feed on the seeds, these fruits and seeds sap away starch and other nutrients that would otherwise benefit other parts of the plant.