Residents and visitors of Anna Maria Island are finally coming out of a particularly cold winter. Sadly, that’s more than can be said for many of the beautiful palms that grace the island. Cold-hardy palms survived fine, and are completely green. But many coconut palms are looking very brown. The other evening we were alarmed to see in a neighbor’s yard that the entire head of a coconut palm had fallen over, and was just hanging.
We have been staring at several of our own coconut palms. They are mostly brown now, and have dropped many of their fronds and coconuts. We think it’s very likely they will not survive, but since they are so tall, it’s impossible to see exactly what’s happening in the bud. A few of them still have signs of pale green in the newer fronds.
The University of Florida extension service is always a very helpful source of information about growing plants in this area. Regarding the treatment of cold-damaged palms they say the following, in their publication # ENH-92:
Protecting the Damaged Palm While Waiting for Warm Weather
To avoid attacks by primary or secondary plant pathogens, it is important that steps be taken to insure protection of the healthy bud until active growth resumes.
Remove the cold-damaged portion of the leaves. Leaves should not be completely removed if they are green (even if they are spotted from the cold). The green intact portions of the palm are important to assure adequate photosynthesis during the recovery stage.