Sago palms (Cycas revoluta) are tropical plants with long arching green palm-like fronds or branches that are evergreen and slow growing. The trunk of a sago palm is hairy or shaggy. Sago palms are an ornamental cycad rather than a genuine palm tree. King sago, cycad palm, sago cycad, and Japanese sago palm are all terms for easy-to-grow sago palms.
In tropical gardens, sago palms are a popular landscape plant. Sago palms thrive in well-draining soil and like full sun. Sago palms take 50 years to grow to a height of 12 feet (3.5 meters) in ideal conditions. Sago palms take ten years to develop and bloom for the first time, after which they die.
Growing sago palms in your garden or indoors is covered in this article. You’ll learn some surprising information about this cycad, which many mistake for a tiny palm tree.
Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) is a Cycad Plant (Not a Real Palm Tree)
Sago palms (Cycas revoluta) are cycad plants in the Cycadaceae family, not true palm trees. The palm tree belongs to the Arecaceae family of plants, which is completely distinct. Although sago cycads resemble palm trees, they have certain differences from actual palm trees.
Sago palms don’t have seeds that are encased in fruits, unlike palm trees. A primary flower head of a female sago palm looks like a cone and produces seeds. Sago palm leaves emerge curled and resemble fern leaves rather than palm leaves, unlike real palms.
A Few Facts About Sago Palms
The trunks of king’sago palms (Cycas revoluta) are robust and the fronds arch stiffly. Perennial plants with evergreen foliage, sago palms are common. Multi-stemmed ‘palms with spiky crowns of leaves on each trunk are common king sago plants that grow as such.
Cycad palms produce suckers or pups around the trunk as they mature. As a result of the tree offset, a new palm may emerge. Or, instead of removing the pups, you may plant new sago palms. To add a tropical feel to your interiors, sago palms may be grown indoors. If given enough sunlight, the slow-growing houseplant can reach a height of 6 feet (1.8 meters).
Popular bonsai trees include sago palms. A miniature form of the full-size palm tree, the sago palm bonsai appears to be. The tiny palm trees grow to a height of 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm). Sago cycad bonsai palms thrive in bright conditions.
Sago cycads, which are 25 years old, are also on the list of dangerous plants. Sago palm seeds, in particular, are dangerous. Ingesting the plant can be deadly for pets because sago palms are so poisonous. Humans can have serious gastrointestinal symptoms if they eat sections of sago palm.
Sago Palm Seeds
A sago cycad palm seed in its entirety. Sago palms produce cones of seeds in the heart of the leaf bulk, which are poisonous and severely harmful to animals. In soil, lay flat down sago palm seeds with one-third of the seed exposed. It’s important to remember that sago palm seeds are harmful and should never be consumed by children or pets.
Male Sago Vs. Female Sago Palm
Male and female sago palms are required for reproduction. Dioecious sago palms (left) and female sago palms (right) The upright cone-type structure of mature male sago plants grows in the center of the leaf rosette. The female sago has a large orange seeds-covered cone on top.
Sago seeds reproduce when female sago palms are pollinated. Sago palm fronds are sometimes referred to as flowers. Sago plants, on the other hand, don’t create flowers since they’re cycads rather than palms. Only after the tree is at least 15 years old do these flower-like sago plant cones bloom every three or four years.
King Sago Vs. Queen Sago Palm
The queen sago palm (Cycas circinalis) is either male or female, just as the king sago palm (Cycas revoluta). The Japanese sago, or king’s sago, is a species that originates in Japan. While Queen Sago is a popular landscape plant in Hawaii, it is native to southern India and Sri Lanka. In tropical garden settings, both of these cycad species are cultivated for their aesthetic appeal.
How to Care for Sago Palms
If you have the ideal Growing circumstances, easy-care sago palms grow without effort. Sago palms need full sun, sandy well-draining soil, and no watering until the ground is dry in order to thrive. During the growing season, sago palms don’t need fertilizer, but you can fertilize them monthly if you want. The whole process of growing sago palms is explained below.
Sago Palm Light Requirements
Sago palms thrive in full sun to partial shade when cultivated indoors. To keep its foliage lush and healthy, the king’sago cycad requires four to six hours of sunlight every day. Sago palms prefer partial shade in hot, dry regions, especially during the midday sun.
Make sure there is at least 3 feet of growing room in sunny areas. Between the palm-like plants, there is a space of 1 m. This ensures that the plant gets sufficient air. In addition, the palm foliage will receive enough sunlight for healthy development. When growing indoors in pots, protect sago palms from direct sunlight.
In your house, the sago palm pot should be exposed to plenty of sunlight. Because direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and turn them yellow, you should avoid putting cycads in a south-facing window.
The Best Soil for Growing Sago Palms
The best soils for king’sago palms are loamy, slightly acidic, and well-draining. Sandy soil with some organic matter worked into it is the ideal type of soil mix for cycad palms. Excellent drainage is the most important soil requirement for healthy sago palm development. Roots of sago palms should not be standing in damp, saturated soil. The extra water should drain away quickly after a thorough watering. Roots are kept hydrated but not too wet with this method.
If you want to cultivate potted sago palms indoors or outside, make sure you have the correct potting soil mix. The ideal potting mix is made up of one part perlite, one part coarse sand, and two parts peat moss. Sand and perlite improve drainage, while peat moss adds nutrients and retains some moisture.
How to Water a Sago Palm
Just water them when the top soil is dry since they don’t need much. Sago palms are drought-tolerant outdoor plants that can go for days without getting wet. Your cycad may never need watering if your environment receives at least 9 inches (22 cm) of yearly rain. Water the sago plant thoroughly every two weeks in hot, dry weather.
In tropical and semi-tropical regions, sago palms grow well with consistent rainfall. The cycad thrives as long as water drains quickly from the sago palm roots. Sago palm plants in the home garden are watered by few gardeners. To water houseplants, follow the instructions in our watering potted sago palms article.
When the top 3 inches (7.6 cm) of the potting soil is dry, water sago palms in pots Until water drains out the pot’s base drainage holes, thoroughly water the soil. Before watering, wait until the soil mixture is dry. During the winter, don’t water sago palms.
Temperature and Humidity Requirements for Sago Palms
Sago palms prefer a temperature range of 70°F to 90°F (21°C to 32°C) in their ideal environment. 20°F (-6°C) is the lowest temperature allowed for Cycas revoluta. Sago palms may survive brief spells of freezing, although their lush green leaves may be damaged.
USDA zones 9 through 12 are ideal for sago palms. You may grow sago palms in containers outdoors during the summer if you live in colder regions. Bring the potted cycad indoors when the nighttime temperature drops to 50°F (10°C). At temperatures below 30°F (-1°C), the broad feathery fronds may be damaged.
Sago palms thrive in humid conditions. The ideal climate for sago palm trees is found in southern states such as Florida. Maintain humidity by misting the leaves of your potted king’s or bonsai’s sago regularly. To avoid leaf damage, keep the cycad plant away from chilly drafts.
Sago Palm Fertilizer Needs
Sago palms need very little fertilizer, if any. According to some gardeners, their sago palms do not need additional fertilizer. Sago palms get enough nutrients for proper development if they are growing in rich, well-drained soil. A liquid fertilizer with an NPK rating of 18-8-18 may be used to improve the soil’s nutrient profile if you choose to do so. During the growing season, mix the fertilizer and apply every month, as directed by the manufacturer. Cycads can also be fertilized with citrus or palm products.
Magnesium is required by sago palms, as it is by all cycads and palms. Fertilizer with added magnesium is a good option. Alternatively, to boost magnesium, use Epsom salt. Before watering the ground, you may apply a tablespoon of Epsom salt around the tree twice a year.
Sago Palm Growth Rate
Slow growing Kings’ago palms The average height of a sago palm is 5 feet (1.5 meters) after ten years or more of growth. Sago palms reach a height of 10 to 12 feet (3.6 to 3.6 meters) after approximately 50 years. Sago palms may survive for 100 years.
How to Propagate Sago Palms
The two techniques for growing the plant are sago pups or sago palm seeds. You may separate sago palm pups from the root and replant them, whether they are boys or girls. Seed propagation of the sago palm is more difficult. New plants take a long time to grow in both propagation methods. With pups or offsets, here’s how to grow sago palms:
- To obtain the entire stem of a mature sago palm, look for tiny offsets around the base and carefully remove them.
- Separate the pup from the plant by using a sharp saw if you can’t pull out the offset.
- Remove any roots from the sago palm pup’s severed end.
- Wait seven days until the injured end has callused before releasing the pup in a shaded area.
- In a pot or in a suitable location in your backyard, plant the sago palm cutting.
- Soak the soil deeply to encourage development.
It’s difficult to germinate sago palms from seeds. In your yard, you’ll first need to have two sago palm trees: a male and a female. Next, make sure that the seeds have been pollinated. Sago seeds can take up to six months to develop roots if they are pollinated.
How to Prune (Trim) Sago Palm
Because trimming cycad plant causes it stress, only remove dead or sick sago palm leaves. A sago palm’s health may be harmed if it is overly pruned. After the sago palm has bloomed, you may remove the flowers (cones) to encourage development. A sago palm can be pruned or trimmed like this:
- To prevent the spiky sago palm leaves from stabbing you, put on protective gloves.
- To avoid disease spreading, use clean pruning shears.
- Look for live brown sago palm leaves.
- Try to cut the dead king’s sago leaves as close to the root as possible.
- Never clip yellow foliage or fronds, as this may overexcite the plant.
Sago Palm Toxicity
All sago palm parts are harmful to people and animals, with the seeds containing the most deadly chemical. Cycasin is a poisonous chemical found in sago palm trees. The sago palm seeds contain higher concentrations of this poison. Dogs or cats that consume any portion of the sago palm, on the other hand, may suffer liver disorders.
The hazards of sago palm to dogs and cats were highlighted in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science. Toxins are allegedly found in the plant’s leaves, branches, roots, and seeds. Cycasin is found in the highest quantity in sago palm seeds. Animals may die after swallowing one or two seeds. Sago palm poisoning has the potential to be fatal. Pets that have eaten sections of the sago plant may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea are examples of gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Nose bleeds or gum bleeds.
- Abdominal pain.
- Increased thirst and urination.
Humans are also poisonous to Kingsago palm seeds, leaves, and stems. According to medical studies, consuming cycad seeds might cause severe gastrointestinal problems. Severe vomiting was the most frequent symptom of sago palm poisoning.
Pests that Can Affect Sago Palm Growth
Insects and diseases are not a problem for sago palms, which are hardy plants. You will only have to treat a sago palm for pest problems if it is growing in a suitable location. The only bugs that might become a problem are spider mites and scale insects. To learn how to cope with a variety of plant insects naturally, read this article.
Sago Palm with Yellow Fronds
Nutrient deficiency or a too dry/damp environment causes yellowing fronds on sago palm leaves. The lush, spiky palm leaves may lose their color if there is a lack of potassium, magnesium, or nitrogen. Overly dry or overly wet soil may also cause yellow fronds on sago palms. To know which nutrient deficiency is causing yellow sago palm fronds, here are some handy tips:
- Nitrogen deficiency—The leaves of older sago become golden.
- Potassium deficiency—The leaves and stems turn yellow, as well.
- Magnesium deficiency—The middle leaf stays green, while yellow bands develop on the others.
To address concerns with yellowing sago palm leaves, apply a liquid fertilizer to your palm trees. The green coloration of new growth should begin to emerge. Pruning yellow leaves, on the other hand, is a good idea since it encourages them to brown.