Landscaping Tips - Pineapple Palms

Phoenix canariensis, the Canary Island date palm is an easy to recognize landscape palm found throughout the lower elevations of Arizona.  The palm is easy to care for and should be trimmed once a year in late spring or early summer after the fruit is produced.

The Canary Island palm is sometimes called the Pineapple palm due to the end result of a pruning practice called “pineappling”.  This practice is one of the worst pruning techniques that could be done and is detrimental to the health of the palm. Rather than opting for what’s known as a “hurricane cut”, “10-2 cut” or “pineapple cut” with the palm, it is much better to leave the full crown intact, which preserves its natural beauty and helps it thrive throughout the year.  The “9-3 cut” is the preferred method, only removing fronds that are below the horizontal line or the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock horizontal line created on the face of a clock.

As the primary site of photosynthesis on a palm, the fronds produce the necessary carbohydrates to sustain the palm throughout the growing season, produce the flowers and fruit and provide sufficient carbs for the new growth of fronds the following year.  Removing more fronds than are produced each year slows and reduces growth over time and makes the palm more susceptible to diseases and environmental changes.

Normally ageing fronds typically lay down against the trunk, turn brown and die.  Healthy fronds stand away from the trunk, vertically when first produced then arching out and away from the trunk. Otherwise healthy fronds may exhibit one or more nutrient deficiencies, turning various shades of yellow, red or orange as well as green.  These fronds should not be removed even though they are lacking in nutrients as they continue to photosynthesize and support the palm. Counting the number of new fronds produced in the spring and using that number as a guide to the number of fronds to remove will ensure that only the necessary number of fronds are cut.  When in doubt, do not make the cut.