Cutting A Pindo Palm Back: When Do Pindo Palms Need To Be Pruned

Large bunches of orange fruits on a pindo palm tree
(Image credit: Lubo Ivanko)

The pindo palm (Butia capitata) is a thick, slow growing palm tree that is popular in zones 8 through 11, where it’s winter hardy. Palm trees come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and species, and it’s not always clear how much each tree needs to be pruned, if at all. Keep reading to learn more about how and when to prune a pindo palm tree.

Do I Prune a Pindo Palm?

Do pindo palms need to be pruned? If you are lucky enough to have a pindo palm growing in your garden, you might be tempted to cut it back. As the palm grows, it does have a tendency to get a little ragged looking. Each year the tree will produce eight new leaves. The leaves actually consist of a 4 foot (1 m.) long stem that’s covered in spines and 10 inch (25 cm.) long leaves that grow out of it in opposite directions.

As these branches of leaves age, they curl down toward the trunk of the tree. Eventually, the older leaves will turn yellow and finally brown. While it may be tempting, you should not cut back the leaves unless they are completely dead, and even then, you need to be careful about it.

How to Prune a Pindo Palm

Cutting a pindo palm back should only be done if the leaves are completely brown. Even then, make sure not to cut them down flush with the trunk. The rough appearance of a pindo palm’s trunk is actually made up of the stubs of dead leaves. Make sure to leave several inches (8 cm.) of stem or you risk opening up the tree to infection.

One case in which cutting a pindo palm back is completely okay is when the tree produces flowers. If left in place, the flowers will give way to fruit that, while edible, is often a nuisance when it drops. You can cut the faded flower stalks off to avoid the trouble of fruit litter.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.