Pruning Queen Palm Trees / Queen Palm Tree Care / Skinning the Trunk are Easy Things to do

Keep the following things in mind when taking care of your queen palms. If you do these easy things, your queen palms are going to look fantastic.

  • Prune the palm fronds only when they are yellow, brown, or broken.  See below for the reason.
  • Only prune the number of fronds that the palm produces yearly.  See below for the reason.
  • Remove petioles or boots by hand also known as skinning. If they don’t pull off then leave them on.  See below for the reason.
  • Remove Palm flowers and fruit stalks. They provide no benefit to the palm tree. See below for the reason.
  • Palms will decline and ultimately die when they reach their maximum height.
  • Water your queen palm enough to keep the soil moist. Usually 2 or 3 times a week for an established tree. See below for over watering.
  • Make sure you fertilize your Queen Palm tree.  See below for more info.

Queen Palm Tree Care

Queen Palms do best in full sun and acidic soil that drains well. If the Queen Palm is planted in a more alkaline soil, you may need to give it applications of manganese and or iron on a more regular basis to help keep the fronds green. Queen Palms will also benefit by the removal of flowers and seed pods. This will free up starch for developing fronds, roots, and other areas the tree needs it. It will also remove and or prevent the mess associated with the flowers and seeds.  Removal of the fronds should only take place whe they are yellow, brown, or broken. They should appear to be dead or dying. Queen palms will only grow the number of fronds it needs to maintain perfect health. What this means is that as a new frond sprouts and grows an old one will die off.  This is the reason it is very important not to leave a dying frond or prune too many fronds. We don’t want nourishment going to a dying frond that could be going to a new frond. If you prune too many fronds, the queen palm will not get what it needs from the remaining fronds to be healthy.  Some people believe that if you trim too many fronds the queen palm will grow what it needs and therefore you can make it grow faster by trimming too many fronds. This is not true. This will compromise the health of the Queen Plam.

Remove petioles or boots by hand also known as skinning. If they don’t pull off then leave them on.

Fan palms can be skinned all the way to the heart. Queen palms should only be skinned to the point where the boots are dried and falling off.  If you skin or remove boots too early you can and possibly will stress the tree to the point it will die.  Rule of thumb is that if the boot is dried, starting to fall off, and you can pull it off easily by hand, then it is ready to be removed.  Sometimes you will need to use a blade to cut a stubborn fiber or two.  The outside skin of the tree should not really be skinned just the boots removed when they are ready. The boots add support, protection, and covering for the trunk of the tree while it is developing.  If you remove the boots too early, it can prevent the trunk of the tree to properly develop. So don’t be in a hurry to remove the boots from the trunk. If you need another reason, go to a local nursery and you will see that Queen Palms with boots are more valuable.

Fertilize your Queen Palm!


The common recommendation is to use a 8-3-9 blend that is a slow release. The three numbers, nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) represent the percentage by weight of the N, P, K found in the fertilizer. A bag of 8-3-9 fertilizer will contain 8% of Nitrogen, 3% of Phosphorous, and 9% of potassium (potash). The slow release will help prevent root burn and will feed your palm over a longer period of time.  While the 8-3-9 blend is the main focus in picking your fertilizer, there are still other micro nutrients that you should look for in a fertilizer. Here is a list of some micro elements found in some of the more popular palm fertilizers;  Magnesium, Manganese, Sulphur, Boron, Copper, Iron, Molybdenum, Zinc.  Manganese is such an important element that many people recommend applying additional amounts even if it is already in your fertilizer.  Just an FYI..  Nitrogen is responsible for the dark green color of your palm fronds and development of the new leaves. Phosphorous helps the root system and blooming. Potassium helps cold hardiness of the palm and keeps tolerant to different diseases.

Important Note: It is recommended that you apply fertilizer at 2 foot away from the Queen Palm trunk.

Watering Queen Palms

When you first plant a Queen Palm you should water it daily for the first 30 days. Once it is established, twice a week during cooler months and three time a week during drier months.  The goal is to maintain moist soil. If the soil stays too wet which equates to over watering, the queen palm could suffer from root rot. So here is some logic to follow. Queen Palms grow faster when it is warmer. So the faster they grow the more they need.  Also, water during the cooler times in the day so the soil absorbs the water and not the sun.

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7 Responses to Pruning Queen Palm Trees / Queen Palm Tree Care / Skinning the Trunk are Easy Things to do

  1. Sylvia Terranova says:

    I have had my palm queen for almost 14 years and had never experienced any problems with it until recently. After recent trimming this past weekend I noticed the center of the bark is rather soft , like in a ring shape (about 8 inches) and the bark on this particular circular section is falling off. Where it has fallen off, you can see the fibers of the trunk and I am wondering if this tree is going to die? It has new prongs that are not frizzled but the older ones had a lot of black spots on them and we trimmed the majority of them. Since this tree is of very close proximity to our pool, is it possible is will break in half with our monsoon winds (AZ) and be a hazard? I’d hate to get rid of it as it has been such a lovely tree, but would like some advice.
    Thank you.

  2. info says:

    Without seeing it, I would guess the health of the tree is compromised and would highly recommend you find a replicable tree service in your area that knows queen palms to come and take a look at it. This could be damage by some sort of bug / beetle or just a symptom of poor health. Get it checked out and let us know what you find out. Send me some pictures and I will post them. You can email them to me at If you search the web, you don’t see anyone talking about this sort of thing happening. I have tons of queen palms and have taken care of more than I care to admit and I have not come across this. I would love to share this with everyone and hopefully help someone else in your situation.

  3. Sue Thomas says:

    I have two queen palms that were about the same size when I bought them several years ago. Despite equal treatment, palm fertilizer, water, etc, one of them is far taller than the other and really majestic..! But the other, while seemingly very healthy and growing new leaves from time to time, did not grow much taller than when it was originally planted. Its trunk is fatter but didn’t grow. I see that you mentioned leaving the “boot” on and I’m assuming it’s the part of the frond left on the trunk after trimming dead/browning fronds. I seem to remember reading not to cut them when we got these trees and so I didn’t, but wonder if that’s why the one has such stunted growth? The boots on that one seem very tough and although they are several years old show no signs of wanting to rot away or pull off easily. I am mystified and wonder if there’s any way to get the smaller one to catch up. :) Not much hope of a magic answer, but you seem knowledgeable and I thought I’d ask! Thanks for any help. Oh, I live in mid-Florida, if that’s any use.

    • admin says:

      I have like 40 queen palms at my house and I take care of a ton more. I have this same problem and I have seen it from time to time. I assume that the queen palm is healthy other than being shorter that the other queen palm. Queen palms are susceptible to be stunted or blackened growth from a deficiency of manganese. But this doesn’t sound like the problem here. The trunk is just fat and not growing tall. Some are just like that, unfortunately. If you plant them when they are small it takes a few years to realize you ended up with one of these and you are left with removing it and replacing it with another one the same size as the rest or just living with it.

      The “boot” is the part of the frond left attached to the trunk after you trim the dead frond. It is strongly recommended to leave the boot attached to the trunk until you can easily just pull it off. Some will come off easily mostly because the trunk expands as it get bigger and other get taller and the trunk doesn’t expand and therefore the boot stays firmly attached. If it is a look you are going for then feel free to remove the boots as long as they old and not close to the top of the tree. After removing them you should not see green on the trunk.

      I hope this helps.

      • Sue Thomas says:

        Thank you for your fast reply, and happy new year! I neglected to mention they are next to each other and have had the same fertilizer, water, etc since we planted them. Yes, it’s very healthy, so I am guessing this is the problem – what a shame. A new one to match the big one would cost a few hundred dollars at this point! And I believe I only paid about $20/ea for them originally. Maybe we’ll buy another baby and it will do some growing and we’ll move the other elsewhere. Any tips on picking out a nice younger queen – one that will grow? Hehe. Thanks again!

  4. Michael says:

    FWIW another reason to skin the boots is insect control. Here in SE Texas we have dozens of species of ants that love bedding under the boots. The shade and moisture also makes for prime bedding for many other insects trying to escape the 100+ heat and long summer droughts.

    I use a plastic lawn rake to remove the boots. My rule of thumb for removal is that if they can’t be raked off they should stay on. This is simple for dwarf palms. For taller queens I use a ladder and an extension pole when needed.

  5. I live in Northwest Florida and have three queen palms that are mature and were in great shape.
    However, we experienced several nights of freezing weather during the winter and it damage all of the fronds, to the point that they are all brown. The husks in the middle are still green, so I am hoping the trees are still alive. How should I go about trimming the damage fronds, how many at one time since they were damaged and not from normal growing?

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