Brown palm leaves should be cut off when they are starting to hang down, if they have fungal spots or if they are shading other healthy leaves. Removing brown palm leaves as soon as they are around ½ brown is a great idea to tidy up your palm and to prevent the leaves from dropping.
If you don’t prune your palm leaves often enough, the leaves will turn brown and eventually drop off anyway. Palms will grow new leaves from the center of their crown where their growth tip is. This means that new green leaves will come from this area to replace old brown leaves.
It is best to cut off brown palm leaves before they get to the point of falling off. often they can blow off in the wind and end up in your pool or on top of one of your beloved plants.
This article will explore if you should cut off brown palm leaves, when to do so and tips for pruning them off without harming your plant.
When to cut off brown palm leaves
Brown palm leaves should be cut off regularly. Prune your palm every 6 weeks throughout the year to keep it tidy. I find that palms growing in tropical and subtropical regions will continue to replace their leaves throughout the year. This means that the old, brown leaves will need to be removed.
Palms grown in cooler climates will need less pruning over the winter where they will slow their growth. Check them over regularly but you can often wait until spring before you remove old brown leaves.
1.When brown leaves are hanging
When brown leaves start to droop down then it is time to prune them off. These brown leaves will have lost their stem integrity and will start to pull away from the main trunk. They can drop off onto the ground and make a mess.
Trim off the old leaves before they naturally drop off to keep your yard tidy and to prevent leaves from falling on anyone.
2. If they have fungal spots
Check your palm leaves and if you notice any brown spots with yellow rings this could be fungus. Trim off the leaf and throw it in the bin. Removing brown palm leaves that might have fungus is a great idea before it can spread to other leaves.
If you have had lots of rainfall, if the palms are growing in deep shade or if they have lots of leaves growing close together they have the potential to develop fungus.
Trim off the leaves and allow more air movement to reach the other leaves. This will help to prevent fungus from growing. Avoid watering directly on the leaves as well to help to keep fungus away.
3. If brown leaves are shading other healthy leaves
If the brown leaves on your palm tree are shading other healthy leaves then it is best to cut them off. Removing the brown leaves will allow more sunlight to reach through and support the palm to photosynthesize.
4. When the leaf is more than ½ brown
Once the palm leaf has turned more than ½ brown then you can go ahead and remove it. Brown leaves will not recover. The palm will usually start to lose its leaves from the outside inwards. This is the natural process it follow to grow taller and lots of new leaves.
How to cut off brown palm leaves
There are a few simple steps that can help you to remove old palm leaves with ease and without harming the plant.
1. Put on gloves
It is important to always put on garden gloves when pruning your palm tree. Some palm fronds or leaves can have sharp edges which can hurt your hands when pruning. Protect yourself with long sleeves to stop the palm from scratching you.
2. Choose sharp, clean secateurs
Most palm leaves can be removed with sharp, clean secateurs. Choose larger loppers if the palm leaves have thicker stems. Clean the loppers with methylated spirits if you have some or wash them in warm, soapy water.
3. Start from the outside in
Start by removing the outside palm fronds and work your way in. Trimming off the leaves from the outside will help you to identify the older leaves that should be removed first. This will also help to avoid damaging healthy leaves.
If you are pruning clustering palms like golden cane then you can remove whole stems rather than individual leaves. The palm will replace these old stems with new ones as it grows.
4. Trim the leaves down close to the base of the trunk
Trim the leaves of single stemmed palms as close to the trunk as possible. Any leaf stem left on the trunk will dry off and eventually die back. Cutting it back as close as possible will just increase the speed of this process.
If you are cutting stems or leaves off of clustering palms then cut the leaf back close to the stem or remove the stem to around 1 inch above the soil surface. This can be a great way to remove long stems that are growing too tall and outgrowing the space you have.
Should I cut off brown palm leaves? | Summary
Cut off brown palm leaves as soon as they have turned more than ½ brown. Any brown leaves will not recover and are best removed. Palms will naturally shed old leaves and they will turn brown over time. Clean up your palm and prevent any leaves from dropping down by pruning them off.
Cut the leaves back close to the stem to keep the palm tidy. Eventually the final pieces of leaf stem will drop off and you will have a nice clean trunk on your palm.