Palm trees in Hernando County frequently look a little rough this time of year. Winter temperatures and weather here are not ideal for palm tree growth, so your palms may have some freeze damage, dead fronds, and not much new, healthy green growth. If you follow a few basic rules for good palm health, you can take steps now to ensure that your palms will be healthy and looking good for many years to come.
First off- don’t over prune your palms. Only remove fronds that are totally dead and brown. Hurricane pruning (the removal of all but a few leaves at the top) does not help to protect your property and is devastating to your tree’s health long term. An easy pruning guide is to visualize an imaginary line across the top of the tree trunk. Do not remove leaves above the three o’clock and nine o’clock point of that line. Removing green or partly green leaves from a palm can induce nutrient deficiencies and make your tree much more attractive to insect pests. So please work closely with your tree trimming professionals to make sure that they prune your trees correctly.
For palms that are planted in parts of your yard where they are surrounded by turf grass, you should be aware that palm trees have very different nutrient requirements than turf grass does. Palms need to be fertilized several times a year with a quality palm tree fertilizer. Most turf fertilizers contain too much nitrogen and can seriously damage palms if used for several years. Any herbicides (weed killers) applied to turfgrass near a palm tree may damage the palm. But fertilizing the root zone of an area planted with turf grass by applying palm fertilizer is fine- your grass will love it!
Established, mature palm trees need little additional irrigation from your sprinkler system. Hernando County is under once per week irrigation, which shouldn’t be a problem for a palm. But something you want to check for is that you don’t have any sprinkler heads that spray directly against the trunk of a palm tree, because it can be very damaging to the tree long term.
For more information about palm trees, shrubs or other plants call or stop by our office (352-754-4433) 16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville, 34604, weekdays from 8 to 5; or the Master Gardener nursery at 19490 Oliver Street (behind the Hernando County fairgrounds). The nursery is open from 9AM to noon Wednesdays and Saturdays (weather permitting).