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Can you root prune?


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I have some palms that are getting very root bound and I do not want to upsize.  Are palms different from houseplants in this aspect?  Palms in question: Windmill, Cardboard, Pindo, Saw Palmetto.   Thanks!

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I don’t recommend root pruning palms - many species have varying degrees of root sensitivity. At best you will set the palm back, at worst you will kill it. I don’t know the sensitivity of Trachycarpus or Butia spp but Serenoa repens are notoriously root sensitive to the point they are almost impossible to successfully transplant from the wild. I wouldn’t bet on survival if you committed a chop job on a potted specimen. So-called “cardboard palms” are cycads, not palms, and are more closely related to conifers. I have no idea how root sensitive cycads are except that years ago I had a male Zamia furfuracea planted in full sun on my unirrigated Garden Lot, where it was scorched almost to death. I dug it up and moved it to the west side of the house where it gets partial shade and regular water. It’s grown great guns since the move. Make of that what you will


Palms of Victory I shall wear

Cape Coral (It's Just Paradise)
Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.

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Agree with everything PalmatierMeg said above. Butias and Trachycarpus can be root pruned with success, but I do not recommend it.  Butias are regularly grown, in ground in Florida,  a few lower, older leaves trimmed off, then dug by growers with only a small root ball and shipped out to nurseries for sale. They almost always live and hardly lose any leaves.

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As an experiment, I've been keeping a Serenoa in a pot, hoping to dwarf it. I transplanted it from a 3 gallon plastic nursery pot to a 12 inch terra cotta. I chopped off a considerable quantity of the root ball. The plant was definitely set back for a few months, but never suffered in its appearance.  Approximately nine months later, it needs another root pruning. Unfortunately, the new leaves keep getting bigger! Its outside in the strong South Florida sunshine. I'm not sure that I would recommend doing this in a lower light level setting.

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