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Sandy Loam

How to kill a palm without digging it up?

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Sandy Loam

Hello PalmTalkers. I need to kill several chinese fan palms (livistona chinensis) without digging them up. How can I accomplish this? In the past, there has been advice on PalmTalk about drenching the growth point with kerosene/lighter fluid - e.g.:

http://www.palmtalk.org/forum/index.php?/topic/16797-phoenix-dactylifera-medjool/

However, I am reluctant to use kerosene because the trees are right against a wooden fence. I do not want to create a risk of fire.

The reason I cannot dig them up is that these trees are attached to other livistona chinensis which I want to keep (sold to me as clustering palms, but turned out to be seeks planted together in the same pot). The trees which must be killed are too close to a fence to keep. One is a foot wide at the base (and growing bigger quickly) and is only 8 inches from the neighbour's fence. It is going to break down the fence soon if I don't act promptly.

I look forward to any advice that you can offer (soon). Thank you.

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Ben in Norcal

Why don't you just cut them down at ground level?

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Zeeth

Why don't you just cut them down at ground level?

This is the advice that I would give. My parents' house came with a queen with 25 feet of trunk that I felled with an axe. If you have an alright understanding of torque it's pretty easy to direct where the tree is going to fall. All you need to do after that is chop the stump to the ground and cover it with mulch. Palms are fibrous, so the stumps won't persist in the soil for very long.

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empireo22

boiling water poured directly down the crown.

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Sandy Loam

The reason I can't chop them down is that none of them have a trunk yet. Some are getting close to trunking, but not yet. Also, i don't want to chop down the attached trees accidentally. They are all packed in together so tightly. To make matters worse, the fence is a few inches away, so a chain saw would likely be a bad idea too.

I can, however, remove all of the fronds, including the spear. Then I can pour whatever is necesssary into the growth point of each one.

With large pruning shears, can I dig deeply enough into the growth point to kill it? (after removing the spear, of course) Impossible?

Thanks to everyone. I really appreciate all of your helpful suggestions. Please keep it coming!

Edited by Sandy Loam

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empireo22

please try the boiling water first. its cheaper and safer (just be careful not to spill the boiling water) than herbicides. if you have an electric kettle that helps or be ready to carry a gallon or so to the palm and pour it directly down the crown. it works every time for me with sabals and the spear eventually pulls out and the palm rots away.

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Alicehunter2000

I would just keep cutting it with pruning shears or reciprocal saw till it quits coming back. Boiling water...hmm...never heard of that one...guess I'm always trying to grow palms instead of killing them.

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Ben in Norcal

The reason I can't chop them down is that none of them have a trunk yet. Some are getting close to trunking, but not yet. Also, i don't want to chop down the attached trees accidentally. They are all packed in together so tightly. To make matters worse, the fence is a few inches away, so a chain saw would likely be a bad idea too.

I can, however, remove all of the fronds, including the spear. Then I can pour whatever is necesssary into the growth point of each one.

With large pruning shears, can I dig deeply enough into the growth point to kill it? (after removing the spear, of course) Impossible?

Thanks to everyone. I really appreciate all of your helpful suggestions. Please keep it coming!

I don't get it. If you cut them to the ground, they won't come back. This is not a suckering palm, as you said. Cut it to the ground and you are done.

Pouring anything - herbicides or boiling water - runs the risk of collateral damage. And doesn't seem necessary.

Maybe a picture would be helpful?

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SailorBold

Pete.. I agree with Alicehunter.. just keep pruning it and it will eventually die out. I have an italian cypress i planted as a 1 gallon that actually has 2 plants growing right next to each other.. i will have to do the same. It is slightly stunting the main plant...

If you pour any kerosene or lighter fluid (1st Ive heard of it..) you mnight damage the palm you want to keep.

Jimmy

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Brad Mondel

Dig out the heart or probe it with some rebar until it comes out in chunks.

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mnorell

I agree with those above that continually cutting back the leaves of the offending individuals will do them in. They are competing with each other for nutrients and eventually the strongest will win out. You will just be selectively helping that process along and the one (or more) that you choose as dominant will be able to survive, and the others will just peter out due to lack of photosynthesis and continual removal of its precious plant-mass. I've gone through this with Livistona chinensis multis purchased from big-box stores at my place up in Mississippi; usually after a few freezes the weaklings just start to give up the ghost and eventually you are left with one good, strong grower in each clump.

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Sandy Loam

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions.

Attached is a photo to show what is going on (click to enlarge). As you can see, I have chopped off all of the fronds and have started removing the spear. The one in the photos is only a double. It will be too wide when fully grown, but just imagine --- I have some growing along the same fence which are going to have four and six trunks! They will be massive. There are nine of these clusters in all, planted about three feet apart each. (I don't know what I was thinking when I planted these)

In the photo, the conjoined tree closest to the fence is about a foot wide. With so little space between it and the fence, it would not really be possible to use my chainsaw to cut it to the ground. The space is just too right. I also can't use a chainsaw to slice down in between the two trees (the one that I want to survive is in front) because they are basically "conjoined" twins. All I have are large and small pruning sheers as well as a chainsaw. I don't have a reciprocating saw or anything else.

I will try to approaches suggested above -- and thank you so much for your quick responses. If any more suggestions come along later, I will welcome those too.

post-6724-0-36808800-1439595129_thumb.jp

Edited by Sandy Loam

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Ben in Norcal

Yeah, you need a Sawzall. I got a nice Porter Cable battery powered one.

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BS Man about Palms

Pretend they are some palms that you really treasure and want to keep. Then they'll die for sure..

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Hammer

Pretend they are some palms that you really treasure and want to keep. Then they'll die for sure..

Good advice. Works 100% of the time for me.

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Kim

Even the palm you want to keep is too close to the fence. Livistona chinensis can get pretty fat trunks, so if you leave the one, you'll have the same problem with a larger palm a few years later. I would keep cutting all of them as low to the ground as possible and start over with a new palm 3 feet from the fence.

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Brad Mondel

Or move the fence

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DoomsDave

Why don't you just cut them down at ground level?

This is the advice that I would give. My parents' house came with a queen with 25 feet of trunk that I felled with an axe. If you have an alright understanding of torque it's pretty easy to direct where the tree is going to fall. All you need to do after that is chop the stump to the ground and cover it with mulch. Palms are fibrous, so the stumps won't persist in the soil for very long.

In florida. Here in Cali, they last forever. And ever, amen.

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DoomsDave

You can souse it with straight glyphosate or tricofyr (Roundup, "Brush B Gon")

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Monòver

It is very easy, you must make a hole in the trunk and put glyphosate.

Two weeks later, they will be death.

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Cosmo

Pretend they are some palms that you really treasure and want to keep. Then they'll die for sure..

and let me purchase them for an outrageous price, transplant them to my landscape and I can probably kill the whole lot in under a week.

You can souse it with straight glyphosate or tricofyr (Roundup, "Brush B Gon")

Glyphosate is rendered inactive pretty much when it comes in contact with dirt. The directions of the bulk 2.5 gal container that is also labelled for Ag use discusses the marked decrease in effectiveness of the chemical when used with dirty water. Also if I remember from my long ago days of being a licensed applicator R/U only works when sprayed on the green vegetation because it is a photosynthetic disruptor which is how it controls undesirable plants. Also since most palms have a significant waxy cuticle layer, I'm not sure you could get enough to stay put even with the use of a commercial non-ionic surfactant. I do know it can be sprayed directly on mature bark and no green parts of a plant with no ill effects.

The Brush B Gone with 2,4-D formulations or similar type is a growth regulator or better un-regulator. I don't know squat about rooting characteristics of palms but just about every other plant whose roots are in constant contact with each other over a period of time, fuse or grow together. If multiples were jammed into the same container to present a multiple trunking palm, would not the roots be fused and one plant would then represent the entire root system of all plants. If that is possible and the case in this scenario, making an application of a 2,4-D product or similar type herbicide, every palm may be killed or severely set back.to the point of wishing it died with the undesirable ones.

I think the best option with multiple palms in such close proximity is mechanical. Since palms only have one growing point wack all the fronds down and then take a drill with a large extended auger bit appropriately sized and go down through the spear into the heart.

Edited by Cosmo

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Killin a palm tree

Hi how can I kill a palm tree  from the crown.  What can I spay, pour into to crown to kill it?

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Katie007
On 8/17/2015 at 11:00 AM, Kim said:

Even the palm you want to keep is too close to the fence. Livistona chinensis can get pretty fat trunks, so if you leave the one, you'll have the same problem with a larger palm a few years later. I would keep cutting all of them as low to the ground as possible and start over with a new palm 3 feet from the fence.

I agree that in this situation, the intended palm would still be too close to the fence when it's at maturity. You would also have to think about the seeds the adult plant would make, consider cutting off the fruiting body before they fall. 

In the end, I would dig up this whole palm, use a good shovel or an appropriate saw to separate the plants if possible, and replant further from the fence. 

Right plant, right place. The best fix is preventing the problem in the first place. Always consider the mature size of the plant when purchasing, allowing for an extra foot between the full size plant and the fence or house, and think about power lines above. Also consider whether your be willing or able to do any maintenance for the plant, or if youd be able to afford to hire someone to do it for you in the future. Can't go wrong with a modicum of planning.  

My apologies for the late reply. Hopefully someone will find this informative. 

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GregVirginia7

Oh! To have that kind of problem here in Northern Virginia! I’m thinking, move the fence...:D

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Will Simpson

Wrap it as low as possible , digging as much soil out from around the base of the growth you don't want ,  with C9 incandescent  lights , and cook the growth you don't want . 

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lzorrito

You may do like I once saw a professional gardening team removing small trees (not palms). They cut the stem at soil level and then they used a gadget looked like a big corkscrew, and pulled it out :o. Probably it doens't work on palms due its fibrous tissues.

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Jimhardy

An M-80 in the growth point should take care of most small palms.

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Manalto
On 9/5/2020 at 5:51 PM, Katie007 said:

Right plant, right place. The best fix is preventing the problem in the first place. Always consider the mature size of the plant when purchasing, allowing for an extra foot between the full size plant and the fence or house, and think about power lines above. Also consider whether your be willing or able to do any maintenance for the plant, or if youd be able to afford to hire someone to do it for you in the future. Can't go wrong with a modicum of planning.  

My apologies for the late reply. Hopefully someone will find this informative.

When time-traveling to return to the moment of the poor decision and to correct it, what is the recommended length of stay? Must one nurture the plant until established? Also, how does one cover one's responsibilities in the present while visiting the past?

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