Single stemmed palms that are cut in half removing their growth tip will not grow back. The crownshaft is the growth point that sits at the top of the palm where the leaves sprout from. Cutting back palm stems below this point stops their growth. The stem will die back eventually.
Clumping or clustering palms like Areca can be split in half down the middle to grow 2 or more separate palms. As long as there is a healthy root system and leaves in each section they can be repotted and will grow on their own.
Single stems can also be removed from clustering palms. While the stem won’t grow back the palms will send up new stems to replace them from the roots.
This article will explore more about what happens to palms when they are cut in half and how to properly prune.
What happens when you cut single stemmed palms in half?
If single stemmed palms are cut in half they will not grow back. The crownshaft or growing tip is at the top of the stem and if this is removed the palm will not grow back. The plant cannot grow a new growth tip and will not grow new leaves.
This makes palm trees easy to remove but if they are cut, this will effectively kill the tree.
If the palm crown (including all of the leaves are removed) then the rest of the stem will gradually die back. The palm will have no leaves to photosynthesize and will not be able to grow new ones back.
This includes royal palm, cabbage palm, butia palm, coco palm, foxtail palm, and bottle palm. There are loads of single stemmed palms. If your palm has one stem and no leaves lower down then it is probably a single stemmed palm.
What happens when you cut clustering palms in half?
Healthy clustering palms including golden cane palm (Areca) can resprout if the palm is cut. The palm can even be cut in half down the middle including the roots and be separated into 2 palms as long as each side has some healthy stems and roots.
If a stem is cut down in half then the root system can respond and send up new stems. The stem itself will not regrow but the palm can recover. If a stem is getting too long, cut it down at the base and allow the smaller stems to grow.
Common clustering palms include: MacArthur Cluster Palm, golden cane palm, cat palms and lady palms.
If the palm has more than one healthy stem, excess stems can be trimmed off to tidy up the plant. As long as the palm has some remaining stems and a healthy root system it can continue to grow.
Will my palm trunk heal itself if cut?
If you make a cut into the main stem of a palm it will not heal. These cuts can stay in the palm tree for the rest of its life so take care when pruning. If a palm tree is knocked into or damaged this mark will stay in the stem.
Tips to prune palms without damaging them
Here are a few tips when pruning palms to avoid doing any damage that cannot be undone.
Do not cut directly into the stems
If your palm has one stem, do not cut into it. Prune the outside leaves and leave the stem alone. If the palm is getting too big for the location then it is usually best to remove the palm and start with a smaller variety.
Prune off the outside leaves
When pruning palms, cut from the outside in. Palms will need regular pruning to remove the old leaves. The palm leaves usually start to die back from the outside in and will be replaced with new green leaves that grow from the center of the crown.
Take care not to cut into the main trunk as this can be an entry point for disease or pests. Use sharp clean secateurs or loppers to remove larger leaf stems.
Prune brown leaves
Remove any leaves that are damaged, turning brown or spotted. Spots can be a sign of fungal growth so it is best to remove these leaves before it spreads to the others
Do not remove the crown or growth point
Do not prune near the crown or the main growth point of the palm. This will be at the center or near the top of the stem. Prune the lower leaves and allow new leaves to continue to grow to replace them.
Do not remove more than 1/3 of the leaves
When pruning your palm do not remove more than 1/3 of the leaves. Removing too many leaves can slow down the palm’s growth as it will not be able to photosynthesize as efficiently. If too many leaves are removed from small palms their growth can slow completely and they can die back.
If you cut a palm plant in half will it grow back? | Summary
Palm tree stems that are cut in half will not grow back. A single stemmed palm can be killed if the stem is cut into or cut off completely. Removing the growth point or crown of the palm will stop it from growing new leaves. Clustering palms can grow back if single stems are removed as long as the roots are healthy and the remaining stems have leaves.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.