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 (25.5 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 (5-7.5 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.