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Sago Palm Care: Your Indoor Gardening Guide

Two Sago Palms In Pots

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Growing a sago palm indoors is really quite easy especially with these sago palm care tips and tricks.

But first, some interesting background information on this amazing plant, that looks like it belongs on a tropical beach.

Cycas revoluta or the sago palm isn’t actually a real palm tree, but rather low-ground plant with green fronds.

These plants, also known as cycads, are part of a group of ancient tropical and subtropical plants that emerge from a non-branching trunk.

They also produce seeds, but never flower or bear fruit.

It originates from Southeast Asia and Oceania where it grows in swampy and peat surroundings. Its trunk can reach up to 32 feet in height and 2.5 feet in thickness.

During its vegetative state, which can last between 7 and 15 years, it stores starch into its trunk. When it matures, large branched inflorescence comes out of the trunk.

However, in pots, sago palms grow much smaller, usually between 3 – 6 feet. 

Being easy to care for, it’s a popular houseplant. I personally love the modern notes it brings to a variety of spaces, thanks to its feathery and glossy appearance. 

Although it prefers a bright area, it’s also able to survive in low light spaces. However, one thing it definitely can’t tolerate is excessive moisture.

It’s a very slow grower so don’t expect to see more than one or two new fronds per year.

Anyway, it’s definitely worth it because the foliage grows in an eye-catching, symmetrical ring.

Great air purifiers, not overly demanding, and good-looking, sago palms could be the missing plant in your indoor garden!

Important to Know:

According to the ASPCA, this plant is toxic upon ingestion! So, it’s essential to place it out of reach from children and pets.

How to Care for Sago Palm

Light

I’ve noticed that sago palms love bright, indirect light. Too many direct sun rays can be harmful, especially during hot summer afternoons.

This can burn its foliage.

Still, don’t overdo the shade; this could lower the growth of the foliage and weaken its health. It’s ideal location would be an east-west or a south window.

Temperature

Before deciding to add this plant to your home or office, consider the indoor temperature.

These plants love growing in a temperature range between 60 and 75 degrees F. They can also do well in temperatures that go as low as 45 degrees F.

 Water & Humidity

Although they have some level of tolerance to drought, they still love some degree of moisture. The best time to water the plant is when the soil is dry when you touch it.

Avoid creating a soggy soil and remember to minimize the watering in the winter, when the plant is dormant.

When it comes to humidity, this plant likes it high so it’s worth considering a humidifier, in case your home or office has dry air.                                                                  

Despite its ability to survive in less humid households, it will not reach its best growth.

Soil

When it comes to choosing a soil for sago palms, you need to ensure it’s a well-draining one.

This plant doesn’t like to grow in moist soil. A good option would be a sandy soil, abundant in organic matter and a slightly acidic pH.

A potting mix for palms is a good option too.

Sago Palm Fertilizer

Sago palms will thrive if you feed them throughout the growing season from April to early September. This means three feedings per year, i.e. early April, early June, and early August.

Never feed recently transplanted sago palms; wait until two to three months have passed and the plant has established.

When it’s feeding time, go with a slow-release palm fertilizer, for example, 12-4-12-4. Formulas with micronutrients like manganese are also recommended.

Repotting

Sago palms ‘tell’ you when they need replanting. If you see roots coming out of the drainage holes and water draining out slower than usually, it’s repotting time.

Do it in the growing season if you live in warm areas. On the other hand, if you live where the summer is short, do it in late winter or early spring.

Go with a 3 inches wider and deeper pot than the one it’s currently into.  Fill it up halfway with fresh soil.  

Turn the container with the plant on the side and catch the trunk in one hand and pull out the pot with the other hand.

This may require a bit of shaking and squeezing, but always do it gently.

After inspecting the trunk, you can set it into the new soil, slightly pushing it inside and then adding more soil.

Water it and put it back into its pot.

Sago Palm Propagation

Sago palm pups are clones of their parent plants and grow in the base of the plant. Splitting the pup is actually removing it by cutting or snapping them from the parent plant.

You wiggle the pup until it comes out. If it’s too stubborn, you can cut it. When you do this, you cut off any leaves and roots the pup may have.

Then, you place them in shade to get harder, for a week or so. After this, you plant them into pots and water them regularly. They may need a couple of months before they root.

Types of Sago Palm 

        1. circinalis or the Queen sago palm

This tree-like plant can reach up to 10 feet in height and it’s native to India and Sri Lanka. 

Queen sago (Cycas circinalis)

 

         2. rumphii or the Queen

This is yet another tree-like plant which can grow up to 15 inches in height. Sadly, the species is assessed as near-threatened due to habitat loss. 

Cycas rumphii tree

         3. sagu or the true sago palm

Unlike the revolute, this one is actually part of the botanical family with other popular types of palm trees.

True Sago Palm

Other Sago Palm Care Tips

When it comes to pruning sago palms or not, I would recommend doing it in moderation.

I regularly remove dead and damaged foliage and never cut its fronds because this tends to weaken the plant, making it prone to illnesses and pests.

Although propagation through seeds is possible, it’s a time-consuming process and many times, it doesn’t work.

Trouble Shooting- Common Problems

Problem: fronds are yellowing

Cause: old age, scale, mealybugs or low manganese in the soil.

Solution: If you suspect pests, treat them with insecticidal soap.

If the fronds are older, this is a normal process. If it lacks magnesium, apply manganese sulphate powder, twice per year.

Problem: foliage is wilted and discoloured

Cause: Root rot.

Solution: As it’s caused by a fungal disease, you can try to treat it with anti-fungal products, ifit hasn’t progressed too far.

Problem: powdery, whitish substance on the foliage

Cause: Cycad scale.

Solution: Prune the infested fronds and pack them appropriately before throwing them away. And, spray the palm with horticultural oil.

I hope that you’ve found this sago palm care article interesting and helpful.

 

If you love indoor palm trees, then I suggest you check out these beauties;

Chinese Fan Palm Care

Sago Palm Care

Areca Palm Care

Ponytail Palm Care

Broadleaf Lady Palm Care

Parlor Palm Care

 

Christine Mattner

What started out as purely a desire to keep my indoor plants alive has turned into a full-blown passion for sharing what I have learned over the years about selecting, growing and caring for indoor plants with those who may be new to the wonderful world of houseplants.

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