General Care and Maintenance of Palms and Trees

General Care and Maintenance of Palms and Trees a Garden Center ,Centro de Jardinagem no Algarve e Serviços de Arquitectura Paisagistica, Ecoviveiros ,LDA

De: Garden Center ,Centro de Jardinagem no Algarve e Serviços de Arquitectura Paisagistica, Ecoviveiros ,LDA  01/10/2010
Palavras-chave Arquitectura, Engenharia, Grossistas


General Care and Maintenance of Palms

By Don Hodel, UC Cooperative Extension Horticulture Advisor, Los

Angeles County

Care and maintenance practices of landscape palms are

relatively easy and simple. Only occasional pruning to remove

dead leaves and/or fruit stalks to prevent dangerous or messy

litter, regular irrigation, and one or two, annual applications of a

"palm-special" fertilizer are necessary.


Palms are sensitive to deficiencies in nitrogen (N), potassium

(K), and magnesium (Mg). Fertilize according to label directions

with a "palm special" fertilizer, one that has high N, K, and Mg

with micronutrients. Nitrogen deficiency shows as a generally

yellowing of all leaves. Potassium and magnesium deficiencies

appear on older leaves and are characterized by yellow or

orange flecking and yellowing along the outside of the leaf.

A micronutrient deficiency can occur with improper soil pH or

when root activity is low, which can be due to a number of

factors, including low temperatures, mechanical damage,

disease, and too much water/poor drainage/lack of oxygen. Its symptoms appear on the newest leaves

and include interveinal chlorosis and/or stunting



Irrigate established palms at about 100% of evapotranspiration at the site. In coastal southern

California this averages about 30-44 inches of water annually. Palm roots need lots of oxygen, so well

drained soil is critical. Poor drainage and/or too much water keep soils constantly wet and are bad for

palms, especially those that have been recently planted and are in the establishment phase.

Establish an irrigation regime based on soil moisture levels, not a calendar or clock. Irrigate large,

established landscape palms when the soil two inches deep becomes dry. If the soil at that depth is

moist, do not irrigate. At each irrigation apply enough water evenly over the root zone to moisten the

soil to about one foot deep. This is about 1.5 to 2 inches on sandy or light soils and about 2 to 2.5

inches on clay or heavy soils. If necessary, divide each irrigation into several shorter irrigations to avoid


Remove all groundcovers and shrubs within two feet of the palm trunk. Apply a mulch of organic matter

about three inches deep around the base of each palm.

Pruning and Sanitation:

Over zealous leaf removal and trunk skinning with a chain saw can leave gaping wounds through which

diseases can enter the trunk and cause decay. Be conservative when pruning and refrain from using a

chain saw. Prune out only dead leaves or, at the most, leaves up to the horizontal (an imaginary line

through the middle of the crown, from 3 to 9 o'clock). Avoid removing leaves above the horizontal.

Although sometimes esthetically pleasing, refrain from excessive trunk skinning and ball shaping since

they can create large wounds. Unpruned trees never have

Fusarium or Thielaviopsis diseases (see

below). Prevention through sanitation and more conservative leaf pruning and trunk skinning is the

only way to control these diseases.

Correctly pruned

Washintonia robusta Improperly and excessively pruned Phoenix canariensis

Photo by Don Hodel Photo by Don Hodel

Disease Problems


Two deadly fungal diseases of Canary Island date palm (CIDP) are linked to pruning. Pruning tools


Fusarium wilt (FW), which causes a decay of the vascular system. The first symptom of FW is

the leaves dying in the lower part of the crown first and then progressively moving up to the top of the.

A leaf just turning from green to brown that has green leaflets on one side of the frond and brown

leaflets on the opposite side is diagnostic for this disease.

This disease is the A.I.D.S. of these palms. There is no cure and it is 100% fatal but nearly 100%

preventable through safe and sanitary pruning practices. Disinfect all tools before pruning each tree by

soaking them for five minutes in household bleach or sterilizing the blade with a blow torch for 5

seconds per side. Prune these palms with a straight-edged saw rather than a chain saw. The former

can be thoroughly disinfected before pruning a tree while it is nearly impossible to clean a chain saw.

Do not replant with a CIDP at a location where a palm with FW was removed because the disease

survives in the soil and it can be taken up by the roots of the newly planted palm. In deed, it is probably

most prudent not to replant with any palm because host range susceptibility to FW has not been fully

established. Although never observed in a landscape situation, FW was successfully passed to a

California fan palm (

Washingtonia filifera) using FW-contaminated soil from a date palm with FW in an

experiment at the University of California, Riverside.

The second disease is

Thielaviopsis, which causes interior, wet or dry trunk decay. Coined "sudden

crown drop" (SCD), this decay cannot be detected visually from the outside bark, which appears

normal. Sufficient healthy tissue remains inside the trunk to maintain a normal-appearing crown of

leaves. However, this amount of healthy tissue is insufficient to maintain the structural stability of the

tree. Eventually, and without warning, the immense weight of the crown of leaves and/or excessive

wind load snap the trunk, bringing down the potentially destructive and deadly crown and upper part of

the trunk. Like FW, there is no cure or treatment for this disease. The use of a heavy rubber mallet to

pound and sound systematically for hidden decay in the upper part of the trunk can be useful in

detecting SCD.

A third disease, called “pink rot,” commonly accompanies these two diseases. The fungus


causes pink rot. It is an opportunistic and weak pathogen. It cannot infect and kill healthy,

vigorously growing palms. It can only infect and kill wounded and/or stressed palms, and as such,

frequently accompanies FW or Sudden Crown Drop. Indeed, it may be pink rot that actually kills the

palm before the FW can kill it. Fungicides, such as Cleary's and Mancozeb, can temporarily control pink

rot; however, unless the disease and/or environmental conditions stressing the palm are corrected, pink

rot will continue to be a problem.

Additional Resources:

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