Being a subtropical state, Florida is replete with gorgeous palm trees. And that’s probably why you’re reading this article, as you too have one or more clusters of palm trees growing happily on your property that you hope to watch grow old as you retire. In spite of being a Florida staple, they are quite vulnerable, and you’ll need to protect your palms from all sorts of dangers that may leave it as little more than food for bugs and fungus.
You’ll need to be on the constant look out that your palm tree isn’t becoming an all-you-can-eat buffet for the local caterpillar and aphid population, as well as nastier bugs. If left unchecked, parasitic and herbivorous bugs can quickly reduce a healthy palm tree to a withered husk of its former self. So it’s vital to you do everything you can to prevent insects from lingering around the palm. Each season, or as frequently as you like, carefully check the fronds of your palm for any signs of insect damage, or the insects themselves.
However, also be aware that insects can also burrow inside the palm, in which case you may not notice the damage until the tree is beginning to succumb. In order to prevent bug attacks, make sure that you keep the palm well fertilized and “stress-free.” By this, we mean to be very careful if transplanting the palm to new areas and ensure that it doesn’t get over-pruned. If you encounter any weevils or beetles near the base, the find a proper insecticide as soon as possible.
If weevils successful lay eggs and breed within your palm, they can spread very quickly.
To further protect your tree, you can also buy products to repel or trap insects before they can infest a tree. Before purchasing anything like this, make sure you contact a palm specialist or a pest control expert, such as Heron Lawn and Pest Control, to ensure that the chemicals are safe to use on the palm.
It may also help to check the soil around the tree, so as to make sure nothing is nesting in the roots that shouldn’t be and to prevent worms from causing damage. Do this sparingly, though – disturbing a palm’s roots will also stress the tree, weakening its immune system and making it more susceptible to attack from parasites.
Fungus is another problem that can afflict palms, quickly leeching away water and nutrients and killing the palm. The dead palm can then become a nesting ground for insects and other fungi, which will spread out to attack other trees.
Maintaining a healthy tree is the best way to prevent fungus from setting into it, so make sure that your trees have easy access to water and the nutrients it needs to keep a healthy immune system. If necessary, supplement the soil with palm-specific fertilizers to further protect the plant from harm. If you need help, then contact a plant specialist and ask them to recommend a suitable fertilizer, and any other supplements you might need.
Another way to avoid the spread of fungus and insects is to avoid over-pruning your palm’s fronds. If a frond starts to yellow, for example, don’t pull it away from the rest of the plant. Doing so will create an open wound, which can be exploited by insects and fungus. Likewise, avoid cutting green fronds as much as possible. This does the palm tree little to no benefit, and again increases the risk of infection.