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Warning: If you find yourself extremely sensitive to killing plants I suggest you quit reading here.

As I mentioned in my last post we are undertaking a renovation of our yard and garden. There are a lot of plants that I know need to be removed and, quite honestly, I needed some help to accept this point. Removing our two Bismark palms was one of those.

Removing bismark palm

The University of Florida cites in their Bismark Palm document that “the Bismarck palm is a native of Madagascar that grows to a height of 30 to 60 feet with a spread of 12 to 16 feet… The bold texture and color and eventual great height of this species make a strong statement in any setting, but can be overpowering in small residential landscapes.” Case in point, our yard.

Transplanting Bismark palms (Bismarkia nobilis) is notoriously difficult. Compared to many other palms, Bismark palms are root pruned in the fields over several months to avoid transplant shock. Even the small palms at garden centers have large, neon stickers on them stating NOT to break the roots.

Our two Bismark palms were tucked among many other plants and just a few feet from our very important bamboo plants (privacy is very important to us!). They were in the yard when I moved in almost five years ago. At that time it probably would have been possible to dig and transplant the knee high plants to a new home. At this point it just wasn’t going to happen.

Removing bismark palm

Palms are monocots, meaning they have a single growing point, and I used this to my advantage for removing Bismark palms from our yard. Knowing that cutting out the top would stop the plant from growing, my dad and I used my Dewalt reciprocating saw to quickly cut these palms flush to the ground. We’ve used it for other projects but this may just be the best. These plants will not resprout or branch as dicots will do.


I couldn’t believe how easy removing Bismark palms was for us. Literally a ten minute project. And what a difference it made! Instantly we retained another five or six feet of yard where the large fronds where projecting from the base. They plants behind, including Slender Weaver’s Bamboo (Bambusa textilis gracilis), Stromanthe (Stromanthe sanguinea ‘Triostar’) and countless bromeliads were instantly more visible.

We started out by cutting the largest fronds so they could be bundled to haul. I don’t know if the palm would have grown back at this point or not– the growing tip is still intact.


And then down to the ground for completely removing Bismark palms from this garden.


I was hesitant on this so we only did one palm the first day. You can see here how well the other plants covered the previous space of the Bismark palm.


Removing bismark palm

We waited a couple of days before deciding to take the other Bismark palm out too. The fronds were sticking out so far into our new yard space that it was pretty much making it a useless space again.  This time we went directly to cutting at the bottom of the trunk and pulled the entire thing out effortlessly.


I know it is difficult to make the decision to finally start removing plants or particularly slow growing, valued plants like Bismark palms. But that being said, removing Bismark palms from our small yard has made a huge difference in the space. I look forward to sharing the other projects we’ve taken on and the impact they’ve had on our yard!  Its taken me a few weeks to catch up on MissSmartyPlants.com so it is fun to look back at these now “old” photos.


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