Freeze Damaged Palm Trees
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Freeze Damaged Palm Trees

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Freeze Damaged Palm Trees

     I have seen several freeze damaged palm trees in the central Texas area this year after the relatively cold winter.  Now that spring is here, it is a great time to start getting them back into shape.  Now that the damage has been done, the first thing you need to do is prune all of the dead fronds from the tree.  Sometimes, this means removing all fronds from the tree. A fairly accurate test to assess the extent of the damage is too gently tug on a leaf newly emerging from the trunk. If the spear pulls out, there is damage to the tissue of the palm, and can result in the loss of your palm tree.  Palm trees will typically grow out of the cold damage but they could take up to 6 months to completely recover.  
     Palm trees obviously do not like frost or freezing temperatures, and are made to be in a more tropical climate.  We can't control the weather here, but we can control how we prepare for the cold weather in advance.  Your palm trees should be fertilized 3 to 4 times per year.  When shopping for a palm tree food or fertilizer, I recommend using one that is high in manganese, nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, and iron.  When you give your palm trees the nutrients that they need, they will be healthier and more likely to be able to make it through the next winter.  Palm trees should be pruned twice per year, but you should avoid pruning them in the winter.  We typically use the 3 to 9 method when pruning palms.  Overpruning palms can do more damage than good.  Hopefully this information has been useful to you, and maybe it can help save many palms in the central Texas area for years to come.
 

55 Comments to Freeze Damaged Palm Trees:

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Susan on Sunday, April 17, 2011 8:05 PM
Mark - We have 2 large palm trees beside our pool. The large one is probably 25 to 30 ft tall. Last winter and this winter all of the fronds turned brown due to some severe cold weather. Last spring when we started seeing the new green shoots we had a tree service remove all of the dead fronds. So far this spring we aren't seeing any signs of new green growth out the top. I'm starting to get worried. I didn't particularly want to pay money for a service to remove the old dead fronds if the palms are dead. If we go ahead and have the old fronds removed will it encourage new growth? I do fertilize and water my palms and they seemed to be in very good health last summer. Thank you from Round Rock, Texas
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Mark Jankins on Monday, April 18, 2011 9:15 AM
Just wanted to get back to you about your palm trees. By this time, it is becoming more clear which palm trees have died and which ones will be able to make it. If your palms do not have any new green growth coming out of the top, then there is a good chance that they will not make it. But to be sure, we would have to get a look at the apical meristem. Last week, we came across some palms with no new green growth and after inspecting the apical meristem, we saw that the palms were rotting and turning to mush in the middle. So those 2 palms had to come down. Both were Washingtonians. But then, just the other day, a man had 5 palm trees, also Washingtonians. One still had plenty of green at the top, and another had a small green frond coming out from the top. But the other 3, he was worried that they may have died. But after inspection of the apical meristem, we saw that some new growth was on the way and that the palms are going to make it. So we trimmed all of the brown fronds and cleaned them up. They may look funny for a while, but they should come back just fine over the next few months. So there is hope still. If your palm trees do make it, just remember that you need to fertilize them 4 to 5 times per year, and if you know that there will be a freeze coming, you should wrap the trunk with fiberglass insulation backed with foil. Or at least cover it with something. Even if it's just a big warm blanket.


Tree Removal on Friday, August 12, 2011 11:02 AM
This is excellent advice on freeze damage.


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Jason Sykes on Thursday, August 11, 2011 11:07 PM
Luckily frozen palm trees is not a common occurance.
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Louis on Tuesday, February 07, 2012 3:05 PM
I lost a lot of my palm trees during this winter. That is very unfortunate and it is costing me a lot of mu=oney to replace them.


rusty davis on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 8:21 AM
two of my three palm trees seem do have died. all three are over 12' tall. i trimmed back most of the brown fronds, but two of them show no new growth. one has started to lean over about 2 two thirds of the way up the trunk. can i cut off this part and expect it to live? thanks, rusty
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Mark Jankins on Friday, March 29, 2013 10:05 AM
No!!!!!! Don't do that!!! That will definitely kill your palm tree. Sorry I never replied before. I'm just barely seeing this comment for the first time. So to answer your question, albeit a bit late; no, you cannot expect your palm tree to live after cutting the top off. In fact, that will kill it indefinitely.


Doug on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 12:33 AM
Hey, thanks for sharing such a useful information !
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arjun5 on Monday, June 04, 2012 5:09 AM
tree trimming play important role in tree growing. It can safe from diseases, falling leaves, etc.Austin Tree Service
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I like your topic of selection for blog but want to suggest you for sharing some more information regarding your subject so that we can understand your thought more clearly.
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Mark Jankins on Friday, March 29, 2013 9:55 AM
Thanks for the feedback and for your interest in this blog. It's been a long while since I've had a chance to manage it but I do indeed have tons more information that I would love to share with everybody about palm trees. In fact, I started on a project recently putting together a video about palm trees, but I haven't had time to finish it. Between running the business and all of the responsibilities that come with raising 3 kids, I haven't had much time. I haven't even been able to make it to the gym all week, which is also important to me. But this spring weather has really given me a burst of energy and I'm hoping to direct some of that energy toward my internet presence and the website and blog. Thank you for your patience. Be on the lookout for some new palm tree info specific to central Texas hopefully within the next couple of months.


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We typically use the 3 to 9 method when pruning palms.
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Hopefully this information has been useful to you, and maybe it can help save many palms in the central Texas area for years to come.
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We typically use the 3 to 9 method when pruning palms. Overpruning palms can do more damage than good.
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chris greta on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 6:10 PM
We've got palms in Austin, TX and we occasionally get freezing weather. So I was wondering if by leaving the dead fronds handing on the tree,it would help protect it from the freeze? I have on tree around 25 ft tall with all its "beard" that has made it and had another almost as tall that was trimmed and died in a freeze.
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Debbie Lingbloom on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 7:46 PM
I have smaller palms that were hit hard this winter. It's our first hard winter in Texas as we moved here. I pulled put the tops of them and I do see green coming as well as some green on the actual tree trunks. When you say prune all the brown off my trees are all brown. Do I prune them to the trunk and take it all off? I did fertilize them and I think it really helped.
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Rita on Saturday, July 26, 2014 12:18 PM
My sister has two palm trees that had freeze damage this past winter. All the fronds were cut off because they were dead. Did we kill the tree? No new growth on trees since then.
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