What Are Self-Cleaning Palm Trees & How Do You Care For Them?

Posted by Joe Mouad on Jun 13, 2023 9:22:24 AM

You have to love anything that’s self-cleaning, right? Ovens. Palm trees. Toddlers. (Not quite there yet with that last one.)

How do self-cleaning palm trees work? Which ones have this cool feature? Is it too good to be true?

Let’s take a look.

What’s Up with Self-Cleaning Palms?

A self-cleaning palm means that the older, dead palm fronds will fall away from the trunk on their own — no need for pruning.

Palms that aren’t self-cleaning require occasional pruning to remove the brown fronds after they die. The Queen Palm is a good example. This beauty with waxy flowers and clusters of small, orange dates needs to be pruned with a pole saw or boom, and its fruit pods can be messy if not removed along with the old palm fronds.palm tree in landscape bed near entrance of home
How important is it to have self-cleaning palms?

It’s not critical, says Eric Frisch, Ground Source landscape designer. But it’s a bonus. Some clients specifically ask for self-cleaning palms. 

Use This Guide To Create The Landscape of Your Dreams
The brown palm fronds will fall off over time, but will still be brown on the tree for a few weeks before gravity or wind can take them off, Frisch says.

 “At least the palm is on the ground and easy to pick up for the trash,” he notes.

A List of Self-cleaning Palm Trees

There’s not a huge list of self-cleaning palm trees that thrive in Central Florida, but here are the best bets:

Areca Palm

The soft, fine-textured fronds of these self-cleaning palms are full and dense. This makes them great for use as privacy screens. 

Areca Palm
You can leave the palm fluffy and full to the ground, or thin it out to see more of the trunk.

Foxtail Palm

This beauty is a landscaping standout, with its big fluffy fronds that look like the bushy tail of a fox. Foxtail Palm tree and Hawaiian Ti Plant
It has a smooth gray trunk and is available in single or multi-trunk specimens.

Christmas Palm

A nice smaller palm, this is often planted in groups for a multi-trunk effect.

You might see Royal Palm mentioned as a self-cleaner, but Frisch cautions against them for the Orlando area, as they’re sensitive to cold. A Royal Palm can die in a bad frost or freeze. 

Christmas palm tree
Actually, all these self-cleaning palms tend to be sensitive to cold, Frisch says, which makes them a bit risky for Northern Orlando. 

“To me, it's worth the risk if the client understands they are cold-sensitive,” he says.

How to Care for Self-cleaning Palm Trees in Florida

Yes, the dead palm fronds fall off on their own, but they still require some work on your part. 

You’ll need to dispose of the fallen debris. Some palm fronds, like those on the Royal Palm, can be quite heavy. And if you plant a whole stand of Areca palms for privacy, expect to clear a big batch of fallen palm fronds weekly. paver patio string lighting seating lounge chairs palm trees 3
Other than that, you’re lucky —  palm trees require little maintenance.

Water them twice a month during summer and once every six weeks in cooler weather. 

Fertilize mature palm trees one to three times a year during the growing season with a fertilizer formulated for palm trees, following the instructions on the package.

Ready to Pick Your Perfect Palm? Trust Ground Source in Central Florida

You can’t help but love palm trees — they’re a staple of our Central Florida landscape. And if they drop their own dead fronds and save you from pruning, bonus! 

Expert landscaping services in Central Florida can help you choose the right palms for your property. But don’t stop there. 

Palms are just one element of a great landscaping plan. An expert, thoughtful design can integrate palms seamlessly into the landscape, along with other Central Florida landscape design favorites like Loropetalum, Crotons, Muhly grass, and Lily of the Nile. 

What palm trees will grow best in your Central Florida landscaping? 

Let us help you figure it out. 

We’re landscape design experts, but our skills don’t stop there. We’re with you every step of the way as you plan your perfect outdoor space.

Sod, irrigation, landscape design: Let us transform your yard from an embarrassing eyesore to a place you spend every spare minute.

Are you ready to enjoy the vibrant, impressive yard you've always wanted? Request a quote today! We’ll help you review your options and then transform your property.New call-to-action

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Image Source: Foxtail PalmChristmas Palm, Areca Palm

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