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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Remove "Arms" Of Mediterranean Fan Palm To Make It More Open

Q. We have seven Mediterranean fan palms in our yard, one of which has an “arm” which will eventually block easy access to walk around that side of the house. Is it harmful to the palm to cut off this arm? If not, is there a time of year that is best to do so? How many “arms” can this type of palm sustain? Is there a suggested maximum?
Mediterranean fan Palm with a pruned canopy to make it more open
A. Mediterranean fan palm is meant to be a clumping palm with many side shoots that makes a canopy which is a dense, half circle if it is left undisturbed. Many people will remove some more many of these “arms” to make it more open. In some cases I have seen all of them removed except for the middle one.
You can cut them back to the ground or even below ground at their point of origin in the clump. In fact, that is the best way to do it. 
You can prune these palms nearly any time of the year but it is best to do it during warm weather so they have a chance to heal. 

Remove soil from that side and cut it off with a reciprocating saw or handsaw after the blade has been sanitized with alcohol or dilute concoction of 5% bleach and water. If using bleach, oil the blade afterwards. 
Replace the soil after a several days when the wound has healed. They are more visually appealing with an odd number of “arms” so three, five or seven going in different directions and with a balanced canopy is usually the best looking.

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