Some tall, stately palms can add a touch of glamour and exoticism to practically any garden, planter or commercial green space, but while these primitive trees are highly robust and durable they do require periodic maintenance to stay healthy and beautiful. Once of the most important ways palms need to be maintained is with occasional palm cleaning.
What is palm cleaning?
Some species of palm are said to be 'self-cleaning', which means that they automatically shed dead fronds, leaves and seed pods as they grow. However, this characteristic is far from universal among palm species, and even self-cleaning palms can suffer from damage caused by disease, weather or accidents that inhibits the self-cleaning process. In these cases, dead plant matter can build up across large sections of your palm, and will need to be removed manually, a process known as palm cleaning.
Why should you have my palm cleaned?
There are a number of reasons why you should have palms cleaned when they begin to accumulate dead matter in this way:
- Aesthetics: A living palm tree covered in dying brown fronds and leaves can turn into an eyesore quite quickly. The added weight of the dead matter can also pull down living fronds, reducing the amount of shade the palm provides.
- Balancing: Dead matter that is not shed from the tree can cause a palm to become imbalanced, increasing the likelihood of toppling (especially during high winds).
- Rot: Dead palm matter can rot whether or not it is still attached to the tree, and severe fungal infections can spread from rotting fronds to living tissue if they are left in place.
- Pest removal: Dead palm fronds and seed pods also provide an excellent habitat for certain unwanted pests, such as wasps, flies and caterpillars. With a home in such close proximity to living plant matter, they can cause severe damage to the living tree.
- Safety: Finally, dead fronds and seed pods can shed unexpectedly, falling on passersby and causing injury (not to mention a hefty lawsuit).
This does not mean that dead matter on your palm tree must be immediately cleared as soon as it appears, as a few dying fronds pose little threat. However, large accumulations of dead matter, particularly those that contain large amounts of seed pods, should be cleaned away as promptly as possible.
How do you have my palms cleaned?
If your palms are relatively small and young you can attempt to clean them yourself, using ordinary garden shears and clippers. However, palm trees are quite different from other varieties of tree, and their lack of branches reduces their ability to isolate damage to living tissue; as such, any damage you accidentally cause to living tissue during the cleaning process can damage the trunk itself, potentially causing severe damage to your palm's health and leaving it vulnerable to infection.
As such, calling in professional tree services to clean your palms is always the safer option, particularly if you have large palms that require climbing and safety equipment to clean safely. Professional tree surgeons can clean palms of practically all their dead matter quickly and simply, and have the specific knowledge required to avoid causing damage to the living palm. They can be called in for periodic repeat visits if you wish your palms to look their best year-round.