How to grow and care for Sago Palm Indoors

Houseplant, Sago Palm

Botanical name: Cycas revoluta
Family: Cycadaceae

Sago Palm is a popular slow-growing, drought-tolerant houseplant which bears an attractive dark-green rosette of stiff arching foliage. Though it is distinctly palm-like, it is not a true palm. It matures at the height of 2 ft. The trunk can branch several times to produce multiple heads of leaves. The leaves are a deep semi-glossy green and reach a length of 20-60 in. long. They grow out into a feather-like rosette up to about 3 ft in diameter. The leaflets are stiff and have strongly recurved or revolute edges. Sago Palm is native to Southern Japan including Ryukyu Islands and grows best in sandy, well drained soil with some organic matter.

How to Grow Sago Palm

Light

Sago Palm prefers bright light or partial shade with some direct sunslight. It can also tolerate direct sunshine. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Sago Palm liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist. Avoid waterlogging and wetting the crown as it can lead to Crown and Stem Rot disease which results in the eventual death of the plant. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minimum of 100C is ideal for Sago Palm. It is tolerant to cold temperatures provided the ground is dry. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Sago Palm. Mist the leaves occasionally and wash them by splashing water from a hose or a spray bottle.

Feeding

Feed Sago Palm with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Sago Palm during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. The plant doesn't like to be disturbed. Use fast draining soil that is rich in organic matter and a pot that has a drainage hole(s). Growing Sago Palm in a small sized pot will prevent it from becoming too big. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole(s) to prevent waterlogging.

Pruning

Pruning Sago Palm involves frequent removal of any dead fronds to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Cut the fronds at the base with clean sharp scissors while taking care to avoid injury as the leaflets are sharp-pointed.

How to Propagate Sago Palm

Sago Palm can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from seed or offsets from mature plants.

Propagating Sago Palm from seeds
The seeds take several months to germinate and achieve adequate size for transplanting. Sago Palm seeds contain toxins so wear gloves while handling. Soak the seeds in water for a day to soften the outer husks. Remove the husks and sow the seeds about 1-2 in. deep in moist free-draining soil. Place the set up in a warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist through out until germination takes place. Allow the new Sago Palm to be well established before transplanting.

Propagating Sago Palm from offsets
Carefully seperate the offset from the mother Sago Palm by cutting with a clean knife or scissors. Ensure the offset has some roots. Pot up the offset in moist free-draining soil and place the set up in a cool shaded place. Maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges. Allow the new Sago Palm to be well established before transfering it.

Common Problems in Growing Sago Palm

  • Yellow leaves
  • Yellow leaves in Sago Palm are caused by underwatering. Maintain the soil consistently moist and never allow the soil ball to dry out completely. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

  • Brown leaves
  • The lower leaves in Sago Palm may turn brown and droop due to age; remove them by cutting and not pulling. If browning is general and accompanied by rotting the reason is waterlogging and wetting of the crown. This is an indication of Crown and Stem Rot disease.

  • Dry and shrivelled leaves
  • Overfeeding Sago Palm will result in dry and shrivelled leaves. Sago Palm is a slow grower which does not need frequent feed feeding. Feeding Sago Palm every four weeks is adequate. Regularly flush out accumulated salts from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage hole. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

  • Brown leaf spots
  • Overwatering or sudden decrease of temperature due to cold draughts are the causes of brown leaf spots in Sago Palm. Remove the affected leaves, reduce watering and protect the plant from cold draughts.

  • Brown leaf-tips
  • Underwatering Sago Palm is the cause of brown leaf-tips Maintain the soil moist while allowing the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings but never allow the root ball to dry out completely. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Sago Palm are Spider Mites, Scale Insects and Mealy Bugs.

Toxicity

All parts of Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) are toxic to both pets and humans if ingested; the seeds contain the highest level of the toxin cycasin which causes gastrointestinal irritation and liver failure.

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