Palm trees along the Yarra River

Melbourne Palm Trees

Palm trees form a quintessential part of the Melbourne Landscape

Palm trees such as the Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix Canariensis) were amongst the earliest landscape garden plantings in Melbourne seaside parks. These, along with other varieties are often used to create a feature or a focal point in Melbourne Gardens. The climate of the Melbourne can make many plants susceptible to fungal diseases. This is also true with Phoenix Canariensis. As with most plants, pruning will help to improve the airflow around the plant and reduce the chances of a fungal disease like Fusarium Oxysporum. This is the fungus which causes fusarium wilt in Phoenix Canariensis.

The famous floral clock at Melbourne Botanical Gardens - Reds Landscaping & Design
The famous floral clock at Melbourne Botanical Gardens with sweeping lawns and Canary Island Palms (Phoenix Canariensis). A great place to go for Garden Design ideas.


Tall Palm Trees in the O'Donnell Gardens St Kilda - Reds Landscaping & Design
Tall Palm Trees in the O'Donnell Gardens St Kilda near Melbourne's Luna Park.


Canary island palm at Sandringham Lifesaving club - Reds Landscaping & Design
Sandringham Band Rotunda behind a Canary island palm near Sandringham Lifesaving club. A hardy plant for coastal gardens. Native grasses are good plants to grow beneath these trees.



A large palm near Sandringham Lifesaving Club - Reds Landscaping & Design
A large palm providing shade near Sandringham Lifesaving Club.

When pruning, it is also important to sterilise the pruning tools to avoid spreading diseases between plants. Many fungus spores will survive in the soil, so it is important not to use any soils which may have been contaminated. The Centennial Park in Sydney has seen the destructive impact of the Fusarium wilt on the Canary Island date palms on the Avenue of Nations. As with the Irish potato blight, having all of the plants in an area from the same genetic stock can be a problem when diseases start to spread. If planting new trees make sure you choose disease free stock from a reputable plant supplier.


Gordon Reserve East Melbourne - Palm trees near Parliament Station Melbourne - Reds Landscaping & Design
Macarthur street near Gordon Reserve East Melbourne. Palm trees opposite the entrance to Parliament Station Melbourne.

Gordon Reserve East Melbourne with the iconic Hotel Windsor in the background - Reds Landscaping & Design
Gordon Reserve East Melbourne with the iconic Hotel Windsor in the background.


Marine Parade St Kilda - Reds Landscaping & Design
Marine Parade St Kilda. Canary Island Palms along the beach.

A tall Palm at Melbourne Zoo - Reds Landscaping & Design
A tall Palm at Melbourne Zoo

Albert Park Lake South Melbourne - Reds Landscaping & Design
A canary Island Palm with possum protection near wetlands  at Albert Park Lake South Melbourne



Frankston Park Canary Island Palm - Reds Landscaping & Design
Frankston Park near Port Phillip Bay. Canary Island palm. Frankston is a southern suburb of Melbourne


Palm tree pruning - Reds Landscaping & Design
Palm tree pruning. Well pruned trees help to prevent fungal diseases.

Pruning Palm Trees

Palm Tree Cleaning Melbourne

When pruning  these trees it is important to use sharp, sterile and well maintained tools. Heavy gloves and safety glasses need to be worn, as the palm fronds have sharp spikes which can cause a nasty wound or infection. Make sure your ladder is well secured. as even professional tree pruners find this job difficult. Wait until the frond is completely brown before trimming it.

Palm Tree Pruning - Prevent fungal diseases and cane weevils - Reds Landscaping & Design
Palm tree pruning. Trees like this need pruning to help prevent fungal diseases and cane weevils. A good quality mulch is also required.

Palm Tree diseases prevented by pruning

Some other problems to look for in your palm tree include the sugar cane weevil borer and the palm weevil borer. Do not use sugar cane mulch or bagasse near your trees as the female sugar cane weevil is attracted to it. Trees should be mulched with a top quality mulch that contains no palm or sugar cane material. The dead fronds as seen in the picture above, create a shelter for the adult beetles to hide under during daylight. For this reason, it is important to remove these fronds and dispose of them correctly.

Garden maintenance for your Melbourne Palm trees

As with most plants, healthy growth will protect against diseases. Give your palms a good feed with a fertiliser like Neutrog Seamungus that contains nitrogen as well as trace elements like zinc. With a dripper irrigation system and some good rainfall your plants will remain healthy and disease free.

Palm Tree Cleaning - Reds Landscaping & Design
Palm tree cleaning. Benny in action with the chainsaw to prune this palm tree neatly. Palm tree insecticide and fungicide is applied at the same time to prevent disease.

Serious Garden Maintenance - Pruning - Reds Landscaping & Design
Serious Garden Maintenance. Pruning these trees takes a great deal of skill. There is also a lot of clean up afterwards. The health of your palm tree depends on this type of work.

Tree Pruning Tools

When tree pruning, it is important to make sure your chain saw and pruning saws are sharp and well sterilised. This will help prevent palm tree diseases moving from plant to plant. A 50/50 mixture of bleach and water or some methylated spirits will help sterilise your pruning saw.

Pruning Saw - Reds Landscaping & Design
Pruning Saw. Clean your pruning saw with a diluted bleach solution or methylated spirits to prevent spreading diseases between plants.
Palm Tree Shaving - Reds Landscaping & Design
Palm Tree Shaving. Pruning for improved airflow and sunlight will help to prevent fungal diseases and pests.

Weevil and Borer damage to trees

Keeping the fronds neatly trimmed will remove a hiding place for pest. Insecticide and fungicide is applied at the same time to prevent disease. It looks like the help came to late to help the tree below.

Canary Island Date Palm diseases - Reds Landscaping & Design
Canary Island Date Palm diseases. Palm tree pruning was too late to prevent this infestation. Prune your brown fronds off annually to prevent pests and diseases like weevils and borers.

Generally, many palm species create a lot of maintenance work, especially when they are planted near a pool. For this reason, we generally recommend other plants for poolside locations with better screening ability and lower maintenance. At our recent swimming pool landscape project in Ashmore we replaced many of the high maintenance palms with low maintenance screening plants.

Replacing High Maintenance Palms with Screening Plants - Reds Landscaping & Design
Replacing high maintenance palms with screening plants.


Landscape work on the swimming poolside palms - Reds Landscaping & Design
Landscape work on the swimming poolside palms


Swimming pool landscaping featuring screening plants - Reds Landscaping & Design
Swimming pool landscaping featuring screening plants.

The biggest mistake I see in garden design is people using palms to create privacy. A palm should never be used as a screening plant, the bottoms are full of dead fronds, they are messy and tacky. Hedging plants such as a Syzygium Smithii ‘resilience’ or Murraya Paniculata works as far better screen around pool and window areas. Hedges create less mess, are less maintenance and create a far cleaner look. A palm maintained to its true glory should be used as a feature. It should be lifted allowing light and fresh air in, it should show off its beautiful trunk and preserve only the lush green foliage at top. The same can be said of the banana like plants such as Strelitzia Nicolai.

Strelitzia Nicolai - Giant Bird of Paradise - White Bird of Paradise - Reds Landscaping & Design
Strelitzia Nicolai - Giant Bird of Paradise - White Bird of Paradise - A plant in need of some pruning


Strelitzia Nicolai - Giant Bird of Paradise - White Bird of Paradise - A finished pruning job - Reds Landscaping & Design
Strelitzia Nicolai - Giant Bird of Paradise - White Bird of Paradise - A finished pruning job

Some interesting facts about Palms

Palms are members of the family Arecaceae which is also known as Palmate. Amongst the monocots, Arecaceae have one of the longest fossil records, once thought to extend more than 80 million years ago to the Late Cretaceous Period. Recent research by Dr. Bill Baker of the Royal botanical Gardens Kew shows that diversification of extant lineages of palms started about 100 million years ago, during the mid-Cretaceous period. These plant were really around with the dinosaurs. As such an ancient family they give us an insight into the evolution of the rainforest.

The Arecaceae

The Arecaceae are a distinctive and structurally diverse monocot groups. Palms also have collateral, rather than compound, vascular bundles in their stems and silica bodies that are borne in specialized cells (stegmata) throughout. Vessels, often with simple perforation plates, are found in roots, stems, and leaves.
(“Arecales.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010.)

Contact Experienced Landscape Gardeners

For help with the design  and development or your landscaping ideas, contact one of our experienced Landscape Gardeners. We can help with small garden design all the way up to  Commercial Landscape design.  Our specialties include fast growing screening plants, plant health and horticulture, garden lighting  and outdoor pool landscaping ideas.

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For more information on the Canary Island Date Palm

For more information on the Kentia Palm