How to Grow and Care for Sago Palm

Cycas revoluta

For an impressive dose of prehistoric drama, consider sago palm.

The Cycad genus in the Cycadaceae family includes over 100 species, with the most common being Cycas revoluta or the king sago, the main focus of this article.

Vertical image of a green sago palm with spiky fronds, growing in a garden along a cement sidewalk, with bright sunlight and trees in the background, printed with green and white text at the midpoint and bottom of the frame.

Like ferns, these giant beauties have been around since before the dinosaurs, and their stunning display is truly evocative of an age long gone. In fact, they’re sometimes referred to as “living fossils,” dating back to the early Mesozoic Era without much change since then.

Dark green and lush with sturdy foliage, if you live in a warm climate zone or you’re looking for a new addition to your indoor garden, this plant is for you.

Here’s what’s to come in this article:

Let’s learn more!

Cultivation and History

While “palm” is part of their common name, sago palms are not really palms at all. They’re cycads, a group of seed plants with ancient roots related to cone-bearing conifers.

Vertical image of a sago palm growing with other types of greenery, bordered by a cement sidewalk with trees in the background.
Photo by Gretchen Heber.

Other names for this type of sago palm include king sago, palm cycad, or Japanese funeral palm. Native to the southernmost island of Japan, the leaves were traditionally used in funeral arrangements in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Sago palm growing close to the ground with fronds forming a half-sphere.
This sago palm is about 15 years old. Photo © Ralph Barrera.

C. circinalis, or queen sago, is another common species that is native to India. It’s commonly grown in parts of Asia and Hawaii.

This is not to be confused with C. micronesica, another species that is found in Micronesia, Palau, and Guam. This species gained notoriety when it was found to be linked to Lytico-Bodig disease, which is similar to ALS. The seeds of C. micronesica were a traditional food source on Guam until the 1960s, but they contain a potentially dangerous neurotoxin and should not be consumed.

I repeat – do no eat any part of your cycads. They are ornamentals only!

Sago grows slowly when confined to a pot, and it is also a favorite choice for bonsai.

Gardeners located within or north of USDA Hardiness Zone 8a must grow these ancient wonders in pots and bring them indoors to overwinter, but those of us in zones 8a to 11b get to enjoy them in our landscapes year-round.

Closeup vertical image of a male sago palm with large yellow cone and green spiky fronds.
Male sago palm. Photo by Gretchen Heber.

When grown outdoors, C. revoluta may reach a height of 10 to 12 feet, though the ones I see in Austin are closer to about 5 feet tall. Here they are also typically allowed to fall into a spreading, half-round form, rather than the more upright, palm tree-like form that results when the lower fronds are trimmed off.

The pinnate leaves are typically about 4 to 5 feet long at maturity, reaching their greatest length when grown in partial shade. Shiny, new leaves sprout from the top of the crown in a circular pattern, located above a woody trunk.

As mentioned above, sago palms are poisonous to humans and pets, something to keep in mind if you have a dog who likes to experiment with new cuisines. Our dogs have never bothered our sagos, and the spiky leaf tips act as a deterrent as well.

Closeup horizontal image of female sago palm.
Female sago.

Each sago palm is either male or female. In late spring, males may produce a 12- to 24-inch-tall cone, whereas females produce a leaf structure resembling a basket that produces ovules. The “basket” opens when the plant is ready to be fertilized by pollen from the male, carried by wind or insects.

Keep in mind that sago palms may take over a decade to reach maturity and bloom for the first time. This will only happen under ideal growing conditions, every three years or so.

Propagation

Division

C. revoluta can be propagated via division, as well as growing by seed. For the first method, you may notice new clusters forming near the base of the plant. These pups can be cut off and planted elsewhere, or shared with fellow gardeners.

Don’t procrastinate if you are going to attempt this process. Once the pups get too large, it’s very difficult to successfully propagate them. Get them before they’re a foot tall.

In the spring or fall, clear the dirt from around the base of each pup. Grasp the base of a pup and gently wiggle it to pop it off. If it has already grown too large, you may have to cut it off with a clean, sharp gardening knife.

Pinch or cut off any leaves that are sprouting from the pup. Place separated pups in the shade for a week to heal the wound, then choose a pot that’s a couple inches larger in diameter than the pup.

Fill the pot with a fast-draining blend of sand, perlite, and peat moss, or a container mix that’s suitable for palms. Dig a hole and place the pup in the hole with the wound side down.

Green sago palms with brown trunks, growing in a sunlit lawn.

Water thoroughly, and let the soil dry out before watering again. Keep in the shade and away from bright sunlight until it has rooted, and note that this can take several months.

Seed

You can also propagate these ancient beauties from seed.

In a small pot, press the seed into the soil with the flat side up, keeping about one-third of the seed above soil level, and place the pot in a warm area. Plant one seed per pot, to give it room to grow.

Horizontal image of a sago palm plant in bright sunlight.
Photo by Gretchen Heber.

Tamp the soil down around the seed, water well, and cover the pot with plastic to create a mini greenhouse that locks in warmth and moisture.

Sago seeds will germinate in temperatures of 70 to 100°F, so leave them in a warm, sunny location or use a heat mat. Be patient – they can take up to three months to germinate. Keep the soil moist, and when the seed germinates, you can remove the plastic wrap.

If you live in a hospitable area, you can plant the palms in the ground in early spring or late fall, after about three years once a strong root system has had time to develop. Otherwise, re-pot into successively larger containers as your cycad grows larger. Small specimens are perfect for bonsai!

Horizontal image of a potted sago palm plant in a beige wicker container, on a blonde wood dresser next to a bookshelf of the same material, with a framed print watercolor depicting green monstera leaves, against a blue and gray wall.

To save your own seeds – or if you have a neighbor with mature female sagos – wait until fall to harvest them when the fruit is ripe. Wearing gloves, collect the orange fruit. You can tell the viable seeds from the unfertilized ones by placing them in a bucket of water; save the seeds that sink and discard the rest.

Collected seeds can be stored at room temperature in an airtight bag or container. Before planting, allow them to soak in water overnight to soften their outer coating. Rinse well before potting up.

How to Grow

C. revoluta can tolerate full sun, and will do well in partially shaded areas in particularly hot and dry climates, where it will likely produce longer leaves. Bright light is required for growing indoors.

Leaf damage due to both extreme heat and sun or extreme cold can cause damage to your cycads, leaving them susceptible to disease. When in doubt, give them some shade and protection. And don’t crowd your sagos in with other plants, to promote good airflow.

They aren’t picky about soil. Mine have thrived in average, non-amended garden soil for years. For healthy, vibrant sagos, well-draining sandy soil is best.

Closeup of green, spiky sago palm fronds.

Outdoor sagos are fairly drought-tolerant, and can go weeks without supplemental water and work great for xeriscaping in warm, dry climates. In fact, you should allow your plants to dry out between watering, plant only in well-draining pots, and avoid overwatering whenever possible.

Sago palms don’t like wet feet, and a well-intentioned watering-happy gardener can unwittingly cause their plants to become susceptible to disease.

No supplemental fertilizer is typically needed either. I’ve found that mine grow well in the native soil, with no need for amending of any kind.

Once a month during the growing season, an 18-8-18 water-soluble fertilizer may be applied to keep your sagos at their best, at a rate of one teaspoon per gallon of water, or according to package directions. Regular applications of fertilizer will help to encourage C. revoluta to bloom, and produce new growth. Palm or citrus fertilizer may be used effectively on cycads as well.

Growing Tips

  • Plant in well-draining, sandy soil
  • Drought tolerant, requiring infrequent watering
  • Supplement with fertilizer once a month, except when dormant
  • Bring container plants indoors for the winter in hardiness zones 8a and lower

Pruning and Maintenance

Evergreen C. revoluta requires little maintenance.

Here in Austin, my sagos have suffered leaf burn during a couple of winters when temperatures sank into the low 20s for one or two nights, but otherwise, they overwinter in my growing zone perfectly well. Established plants grown outdoors may be covered with burlap for protection in rare cases of extreme winter weather.

Dead fronds can be removed with sanitized pruners. Remember to wear gardening gloves when you are doing this, to avoid jabs from the sharp, pointed leaf tips. To improve the look of the plant, you may also choose to carefully cut away withered fruit and flower stalks at the end of the season, for seed saving or disposal.

Keep in mind that pruning is only recommended for brown, dry fronds that have died. You may be tempted to remove yellowing fronds, particularly if you feel they ruin the green, lush appearance. Here’s what I have to say to that: don’t!

Removal of these fronds, especially when yellow portions are found towards the bottom of the plant, can actually cause stress. And this can lead to stunted growth, or make your sagos susceptible to infection.

Yellow fronds are still alive and absorbing nutrients, and removal may actually cause the problem to spread up the plant in cases where this is a sign of disease. See the section below on managing pests and diseases for additional suggestions and information.

Over the years, as your sago palm matures, you may choose to prune it into a tree form rather than a rounded bush with lower leaves that touch the ground. This must be done gradually over the course of years, in order to avoid undue stress. Remove the oldest fronds from the base sparingly, cutting as closely to the trunk as possible.

Plant and Seed Selection

Ready to get growing?

C. Revoluta, 10 Seeds

If you don’t have a local retail source available, or a friendly neighbor who saved some fruit or pups for you, you still have options.

You can find C. revoluta seeds available in packages of 10 from Serendipityseed via Amazon.

King Sago Palm 6-Inch Live Plant, 1-Gallon Pot

If you’re looking for a more mature live specimen, six-inch plants in gallon pots are available from American Plant Exchange via Amazon.

Live Sago Palm in 4.5-Inch Ceramic Pot

And if a bonsai for indoor gardening is what you’re after, start with this live plant in a 4.5-inch ceramic pot, available from 9GreenBox via Amazon.

Managing Pests and Diseases

Sagos are pretty hardy, and they should do well in your garden with proper care if planted in a suitable location.

A few potential pests and problems that you may encounter include scale insects, yellowing, sooty mold, and various types of rot.

If you’ve ever had aphids take over your rose bushes, you’re probably familiar with the honeydew that they excrete, and the unsightly mold that can grow on your plants as a result. Scale bugs can cause similar issues when they attack your cycads. They might be poisonous to humans and pets, but certain species of these insects love them!

We cover this problem and more in our guide on sago palm pests and diseases that might affect them, with preventive measures that you can take to protect your garden and suggested techniques for control, including the use of beneficial insects and integrative pest management techniques.

Best Uses

In addition to serving as a gorgeous ornamental that remains green throughout the year both indoors and out, I’ve found a decorative use for those aging portions of my C. revoluta as well.

I just cut out the “burned,” dry brown fronds and place them decoratively in a large planter on my porch. The original plant is fine, and I have the added bonus of a nice dried arrangement.

The dried fronds are fairly “pokey” though, so displays should be placed in a low-traffic area. And do not used diseased portions of plants for decoration, as any fungal growth or insects present may spread to other parts of the garden. Dispose of these appropriately.

No portions of the sago palm may be eaten. If you’re looking for an edible option for the backyard with unusual fruit, maybe the loquat is for you.

Quick Reference Growing Chart

Plant Type: Cycads, evergreen, shrub, houseplant Growth Rate: Slow
Native To: Southern Japan Foliage Color: Green
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 8a-11b Maintenance: Low
Season: Evergreen Soil Type: Sandy
Exposure: Full to partial sun Soil pH: 5.5-6.5
Time to Maturity: 10 years+ Soil Drainage: Well-draining
Spacing: 3 feet minimum Companion Planting: Bulbine plants, red yucca, palms, succulents
Planting Depth: For potted, same as nursery pot Uses: Ornamental, dried arrangements
Height: Typically 5 feet, up to 10-12 Order: Cycadales
Spread: Up to 8 feet, fronds 4-5 feet Genus: Cycas
Water Needs: Low to moderate Species: C. revoluta
Tolerance: Drought
Attracts: Pollinators
Pests & Diseases: Aphids, scale bugs, thrips, mealybugs, sooty mold, root rot, pink rot

Where Will You Plant Yours?

While C. revoluta makes a spectacular landscape plant for those of us in the southern United States, gardeners in other parts of the country can enjoy these prehistoric wonders indoors.

Potted sago palm, with a fence and green foliage in the background.

Sun or shade, good dirt or bad, this dramatic palm-like plant loves hot climates and rewards with a singular display.

Have you ever grown sago palm? Indoors or out? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Are you looking for more drought tolerant perennials? Some of these guides might be right up your alley:


Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of sago palms.

Photos © Ralph Barrera reprinted with permission. Photos by Gretchen Heber © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product images via Serendipityseed, American Plant Exchange, and 9Greenbox. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. Originally published on December 2, 2017. Last updated on June 29, 2019. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

About Gretchen Heber

A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.

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Linda
Linda (@guest_1020)
2 years ago

I believe your comment on Sago being poison to humans and dogs is somewhat misleading. The seeds are what is poison and all you need to do is remove them. I must do this with my queen palms also. Well actually my son does that job.

Gary Beach
Gary Beach (@guest_1807)
2 years ago

Nice informative article Gretchen. I just dug up 36 pups from male plants and 30 pups from female plants. My question is, will all the pups from the male plant be male and all the pups from the female be female? When I plant a female, should I plant a male close by? Thanks for the great information.

roger larsen
roger larsen (@guest_4651)
1 year ago

My sago plum has started blooming new branches 3 times and then died off. The new ones come out and grow larger then the older branches then die off. I have two older ones and two new ones coming up. What can I do so they do not die off. What should I do and what part sand and dirt do I mix.

JHSATX
JHSATX (@guest_4740)
1 year ago

I have a large 7 foot male sago (no seeds, thank goodness as my friend’s puppy ate a female sago seed in her yard and died in 24 hours). My plant is growing very well in direct sunlight in San Antonio. So much so I have to trim the leaves and the pups regularly. I’ve learned the trick on trimming the leaves. While the leaves are green and lush you can grab them and pull downward against the way they are growing and most of the time they break off right next to the trunk. Always grab the leave about… Read more »

Yolo Babsy
Yolo Babsy (@guest_4854)
1 year ago

I have 2 sago palms in my yard. I planted them in 2007. It turns out one palm is a male and one is a female as both have matured this summer. It’s quite a display. They are easy to grow and maintain. I’ve planted a couple of pups as well. This article was very helpful. Thank you for confirming my suspicions (male / female).

Cat W
Cat W (@guest_5097)
1 year ago

Hi – I’ve bought many (smaller) sagos in pots and they seem fine until watered – even after 2-3 mos – at which time they go yellow/brown and possibly die, no matter how much or little water I give them, though they’re in very bright light (and supplemented/fluors in winter – I’m in Canada). Don’t know what to do… or are they only sold here as temporary decor and not expected to live long? I don’t feed them. Thank you so much!

Tom
Tom (@guest_5904)
Reply to  Gretchen Heber
6 months ago

Ours is very large, about 5 ft, and growing very crooked. Question, can we cut it off at the bottom and let us start over?? If not, how long are the roots if we need to remove it?

William
William (@guest_5100)
1 year ago

Hi Emergency room veterinarian here, just wanted to clarify the toxicity to dogs. Eating sago palm can cause fatal liver failure in dogs. It’s fine to have them just be absolutely sure to restrict dogs access to them. Not worth the risk in opinion. Hope that’s helpful

Claudia
Claudia (@guest_9394)
Reply to  William
1 month ago

Thank you. We have 12 in our back yard. 2 of them are 50 years old, they have multiple trunks and are beautiful. We have dogs and are very careful when we prune the Palms. I’ve always heard they are deadly for dogs. We’ve had 9 dogs thru the years and never had a problem. Thank you for the great article about these beautiful plants. I truly enjoyed reading it all and the comments!!

Randy Merrell
Randy Merrell (@guest_5162)
11 months ago

I am wondering why my Sago doesn’t have dark green palms. Also I don’t see new growth. I’ve sprayed with fungicide with did make the palms look better. They had black and white growth on them. I also cut off a couple of large pups. Some small pups have grown back since. See the picture. Can I get some advice how to proceed?

Sago1.jpg
Suzan
Suzan (@guest_5235)
11 months ago

Hi, I had a huge indoor Sago Palm for many years. It died and my son bought me a small one at Lowes. It is planted in pebbles in what feels like solid concrete on top. Should I re-pot it ? Or just keep it as it for now. I am not sure how to water it this way. I have not watered it yet. I know to let it get dry. I have two huge Sea Grape plants I started from seed. I did not know they would live indoors. They are indoors most of the year. I just… Read more »

Marsha Jones
Marsha Jones (@guest_5242)
11 months ago

I have a Sago palm that is always in the house. It sits on a stand in a south window getting plenty of sunshine. Does very well there. Recently it sprouted to very tall stems growing from the middle of the bulb. The leaves were curled so tight. Now they have opened all
The way. So beautiful, but so big. The rest of the leaves are just as they were when I purchased it 3-4 yrs ago. Do I prune these new stems or what? I am baffled.

Angie B
Angie B (@guest_5284)
11 months ago

Thank you for the informative article! I came across it because I was googling for advice on whether it is OK to trim back a few of the leaves (not removing them entirely). We have a Sago next to our driveway and sometimes graze the tips of the leaves with the car when backing out. Do you think it is safe to trim the tips of a few branches about 3-5 inches? I don’t want to damage the Sago– or the car! 🙂

Angie
Angie (@guest_5329)
Reply to  Gretchen Heber
10 months ago

Great. Thanks so much!

Kirk
Kirk (@guest_5386)
10 months ago

Do Sagos need anything special for the winter? I’m in the DFW area and we’ve already had a couple of freezing temp nights. I have 2 planted in the spring at a new house backyard, one has done slightly better than the other, but it gets a bit more sunlight. Will they handle winter’s cold weather well? We also planted 2 Chinese Palms earlier this year, I understand they need burlap wrapping to withstand the cold of winter. Is that true? We really wanted Mexican Fan Palms since previous ones have always done so well, but this is all we… Read more »

Kirk
Kirk (@guest_5403)
Reply to  Gretchen Heber
10 months ago

Thanks!

Daniel Ventura
Daniel Ventura (@guest_5812)
6 months ago

Good, concise, informative article. I have a 5 year old 4 foot sago growing in the middle of my lawn. Down here in South Carolina it gets plenty of sun, drains well in the sandy soil and appears to be hearty. One question, it’s growth appears to be tilting towards the sun’s path in the sky. Is this normal or will it have to be reset to upright?

Gloria Kennedy
Gloria Kennedy (@guest_5846)
6 months ago

Hi Gretchen. Love your article. So informative. I have a question please. My sago has this yellow thick spongy stuff at the top. Is it something I should be removing?

Esther Thumelo
Esther Thumelo (@guest_5936)
6 months ago

Hai, I have 2 sago plants that I planted somewhere in November. I’m not sure if they’re Male or female(they’re from the same mother plant) and I was wondering about the growth rate. I noticed them shoot in late January and to date, one is 38inches and the other is 50 Inches.is this normal? I have friends who also planted theirs way before mine(also from the same mother plant as mine) but none come close to how tall mine are. Is this normal?

BOON LIANG CHAN
BOON LIANG CHAN (@guest_5988)
6 months ago

Why are the newly grown leaves, grow like antenna, instead of the normal compact leaf type?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Noble Member
Reply to  BOON LIANG CHAN
6 months ago

New growth typically begins in a more spear-like shape at the center of plants, and the leaves will begin to unfurl as they grow. I’m not sure exactly what you’re describing – can you send a photo?

Ken Szymanski
Ken Szymanski (@guest_9593)
Reply to  Allison Sidhu
23 days ago

There’s a Sago relative (also a Cycad) called Dioone Edule. It forms “antenna-like” fronds.

Stillson
Stillson (@guest_6795)
4 months ago

Gretchen, I have a healthy male sago palm that started growing a pup near its center. I noticed it recently as new growth started coming out from both the pup and the parent. My wife and I discussed removing the pup while the new growth was only a few inches long. I am concerned it will no longer have its nice round shape if the pup stays. Now the new growth is about 2 feet long from the pup and 3 feet long from the parent. What should I do?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Stillson
4 months ago

Pups or suckers can grow in various locations on the plant, not just around the perimeter of the base. But this can make them harder to find and remove! It’s usually easier to remove pups when they’re small, before they’ve started producing leaves and when plants are dormant. But you can still extract them after they’ve started to grow foliage. Make sure you remove the whole pup, all the way to the base. Try to make a clean cut, and take care to avoid damaging the parent plant. Avoid hitting the cut area of the parent plant when you water,… Read more »

Deanna Davis
Deanna Davis (@guest_7007)
4 months ago

I have the ability to kill plastic plants, so when I was given a Sago Palm, I am shocked to see it still alive after 5 years. My husband says it is still alive because it is too hateful to die. Ha ha! Living in Tennessee, “Tony” always comes in for the winter. The base of plant is black. Not sure why that is. Leaves are green, and Tony got new leaves last year, so it’s still alive. No yellow leaves ever. Just wish there was a trick to have it grow faster. But no matter what, I love the… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Deanna Davis
4 months ago

Oh no, Deanna, not the plastic ones too! 😂 Unfortunately sagos do tend to grow slowly, sometimes a little faster in warmer growing zones further south than where you are in Tennessee. As for what could be wrong with Tony, is the black substance that you see at the base powdery if you try to rub it off? Sounds like it could be mold. If the trunk is also black, this could be some kind of rot. Check to ensure that wherever Tony is planted has good drainage, avoid overwatering, and water at the base of the plant, avoiding the… Read more »

Thomas Patrick Sutton
Thomas Patrick Sutton (@guest_7022)
4 months ago

Hi, My son recently gave me a medium sized sago. it was very healthy looking at the time. I transplanted it into a slightly larger pot. Over the last month or so the fronds are turning yellow. It resides in a partial shade/sunny area. Can you tell me what might be the problem?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Thomas Patrick Sutton
4 months ago

A few different issues can lead to yellowing fronds, including overwatering, underwatering, or a lack of nutrients. Did you use potting soil, or soil from the garden? Are all of the fronds turning yellow? In a shaded location, my best guess would be that you’ve been giving your repotted sago a little too much love via watering too often, or it may be planted in a new pot that’s a bit too large, without adequate drainage, so it’s sitting in an abundance of overly moist soil. Sagos don’t like wet feet.

Edward Farrell
Edward Farrell (@guest_7189)
4 months ago

Do I need to remove the center growth from the male plant?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Edward Farrell
4 months ago

Male sago palm cones can be pruned away, but keep in mind that new growth often emerges directly beneath these, so you want to be careful. Eventually, the cone will begin to wither away, making it easier to remove, or you could let this happen naturally.

Carol Hickman
Carol Hickman (@guest_7221)
4 months ago

I purchased a very beautiful, very healthy sago in an 8 or 10 gallon pot. When digging the hole I have only 12″ of clayish sandy soil, then I hit bedrock! The root ball is taller than the hole is deep. Can I set the root ball on the porous rock and just raise the soil level 2 to 4 inches around the plant?

Thanks for any help you can give me!

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Carol Hickman
4 months ago

The root systems of sago palms need room to expand as they grow. Plants with shallow root systems will typically do better in a situation like you’ve described, or you could consider building raised beds in your garden to raise up the soil level across a wide area. Unfortunately, mounding the soil just around your individual plants isn’t usually recommended, and it will wash away with time.

Jill
Jill (@guest_7234)
4 months ago

Hi Gretchen, this was a very helpful article! I have some questions about our Sago, are you able to help? We aren’t sure if we need to repot it (it lives indoors as we are in the northeast). Thanks, JC

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Jill
4 months ago

Sagos grow slowly, and they don’t need to be repotted often. But they can eventually become rootbound, and should be transplanted to slightly larger pots periodically. How large has yours grown, and is it beginning to outgrow its pot? Feel free to upload photos if you’d like!

JC Garza
JC Garza (@guest_7396)
4 months ago

We have had an issue with the fronds not fully growing, they become stunted and turn yellow. Our male started it first, then it seem to spread to our other 2 sagos. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

F8084558-5B18-4535-84EB-80589353DAB7.jpeg
2E1886C3-6E75-4E7E-9953-03965925A882.jpeg
Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  JC Garza
4 months ago

Since all of the fronds in your photos have a curled appearance, I expect underwatering is at play here. Manganese deficiency can also lead to yellowing of fronds and eventual dying off, and there’s also a chance that a fungal disease could be at play. Do you fertilize your plant? And when you say the issue has spread, are your other sagos planted in the same area? I would suggest conducting a soil test to determinate the pH and nutritional makeup of your soil. You may also like to carefully dig one up and check the roots to see if… Read more »

Ramona Hansraj
Ramona Hansraj (@guest_7736)
3 months ago

Hey Gretchen…I am from Trinidad…very informative article…I have a couple of the sago palms…we here just know it for years and years generation after generation…as a palm that is used to decorate for weddings etc….The trees are about 6 to 7 feet tall… the trunk…part….I never paid attention to the seeds etc…when I see new leaves in the centre I cut of the old…the only thing diffrent I did over the years is …put a couple in pots…over here that’s strange…lol…but I wanted to try it for decorative reasons and it worked beautifully…I had 6 and I gave away 3… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Ramona Hansraj
3 months ago

Thanks for your message, Ramona. We’re so glad you enjoyed the article, and we’d love to see photos if you’d like to share!

Keep in mind that you can start new plants from the pups that develop around the base of plants if you’d like to, rather than getting rid of them.

Jennifer Pownall
Jennifer Pownall (@guest_7846)
Reply to  Allison Sidhu
3 months ago

Hi! There is a lot of great information here. My question is similar to Kelly. We planted 2 palms several years ago in South Carolina. One is big and beautiful the other is growing very slow. Blooms always look so weak. They are side by side so not sure why so drastic difference in the two. Is there anything I can do to promote the growth? They look quite silly side by side. Trying to attach photo.

Jennifer Pownall
Jennifer Pownall (@guest_7847)
Reply to  Jennifer Pownall
3 months ago

Photo attached

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Kristina Hicks-Hamblin
Kristina Hicks-Hamblin (@kristinahickshamblin)
Member
Reply to  Jennifer Pownall
3 months ago

Hi Jennifer! Thanks for reading our article and sharing your question and photo!   I think it would be good to rule out a few things that might be stressing the smaller plant out and preventing it from growing.   From your photo, the smaller sago doesn’t look like it’s suffering from disease or insect problems, but you might want to inspect its foliage more closely just to make sure.   If you haven’t done so yet, take a look at our article on Sago Palm pests and diseases to get an idea of what you want to look for.… Read more »

Jennifer Pownall
Jennifer Pownall (@guest_7960)
Reply to  Kristina Hicks-Hamblin
3 months ago

Krisina, Thank you for the suggestions! The sago leaves on the smaller one look fine so I’m going to take your advice and review the fertilization process. Thank you for the advice I’ll let you know if it starts Improving.
P.S. My maiden name Is Hicks 🙂

Kelly Moquin
Kelly Moquin (@guest_7802)
3 months ago

Thank you for you great info on Sagos. We have 2 that we are starting out. 1 is growing beautiful fronds rapidly. The other doesn’t seem as interested. Should we be doing something different?

Kristina Hicks-Hamblin
Kristina Hicks-Hamblin (@kristinahickshamblin)
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Reply to  Kelly Moquin
3 months ago

Hi Kelly! Thanks for your question.   My response to you is going to be very much the same as it is to Jennifer’s question above.   Let’s rule out a few things that could be stressing the smaller plant out:   Have you checked it to make sure it’s free of disease and pests? See our article on Sago Palm pests and diseases to get an idea of what you want to look for. Is the smaller plant getting more intense sunlight or heat? This could be the case if it is surrounded by more concrete or asphalt, for… Read more »

Robert clement
Robert clement (@guest_8015)
3 months ago

How to tell male from female sago palm and what to do about golden spike that grows from male sago palm?

Amy
Amy (@guest_8021)
3 months ago

Great article. I bought a Sago for my turtle enclosure, my turtles don’t eat the plants. Today I went to do some maintenance, and noticed the leaves were whitish yellow, I touched them and they felt loose so I gently tugged. Yeah… they fell out! Now I have a little pineapple but no leaves. The trunk is firm I don’t see any bugs or anything on it. I hardly water plants in the enclosure (indoor).
Any info would be greatly appreciated!

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Amy
3 months ago

Can you upload photos, Amy? (Would love to see the turtles, too!)

When you say whitish yellow, was there a powdery coating on the leaves? Did this happen to all of the leaves? Sounds like this could be an issue of underwatering combined with too little sunlight, or some kind of plant disease.

Please see our article on sago palm pests and diseases for more info that may be helpful.

Brandon
Brandon (@guest_8050)
3 months ago

Hi there, came across your article while looking up the care and maintenance of sagos. We have one that we have grown from a very small plant. It’s been slowly growing for about 2 years now. I’ve started to notice some yellowing of the fronds any want to know if my plant is healthy or not. It appears to be getting thicker and to have new growth. Just worried about it’s health as I will be having to dig it up and transplant it soon in an upcoming move.its purely an outdoor plant and we live way down south here… Read more »

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Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Brandon
3 months ago

This look pretty healthy to me! A little bit of yellowing like you see there can be a sign of over/underwatering, or a nutrient deficiency, but this appears to be a healthy plant overall with a nice shape to it. Please take a look at our article on sago pests and disease for more information and tips. As for transplanting, will it still remain an outdoor plant in its new location, growing in the ground? Will you still be in the same growing zone, with similar growing conditions? Any plant can experience some transplant shock and it may take awhile… Read more »

Brandon
Brandon (@guest_8060)
Reply to  Allison Sidhu
3 months ago

Yes it will remain outside in the ground. We are moving within the same city so same temperate zone. As for where we are going to be transplanting there is already another much older sago growing well so soil should be good. I’m just very new to gardening and even newer to transplanting something. I plan on taking our sago as well as some pepper plants, palm tree, strawberry plants, and a couple other odd and end plants we have around the house.

b klein
b klein (@guest_8216)
2 months ago

Many years ago a young lady came by my place of business and wanted to trade three sago palms for some of the castor bean plant pods that were on several that were growing on the side of the building. Sure, I say, no problem. I cautioned her on the toxicity of the castor bean plant seed pods and figured I’d never see her again. Couple weeks later, she came by and dropped off three sago palms that might’ve been 4 inches tall. I didn’t know anything about them and I just left them sit for a good while… couple… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by b klein
Kay Martin
Kay Martin (@guest_8350)
2 months ago

I had a friend move a huge palm to my house that has 5 heads and a 16” base last summer. It did so well all the rest of the year until this spring. It lost all it’s leaves and I pruned them back and nothing is happening. No new growth at all. Any suggestions. It cost a small fortune to move this thing and I really want it to make it.

Lynda Gregg
Lynda Gregg (@guest_8379)
2 months ago

I have just moved into a house that has a large Sago palm. At the bottom there are several maybe three or more very large plants attached to the main trunk… Can these be removed safely w/o damaging the adult plant? When I lived in Honduras, the gardener always kept the trunks clean and removed any small sprouts…Thanks, for any advice, I would love to either replant or gift them.. I am now in south Mississippi..

Martha Spinks
Martha Spinks (@guest_8389)
2 months ago

I have a huge sago in my yard that we recently trimmed into a tree. The tree had several good sized offspring–with fronds nearly 5 feet tall and about as wide. Rather than cutting them, I asked the person trimming the tree to try digging them and I would see if I could transplant them. I did that about 2 days ago and am keeping them wet. Now I need to know what kind of nutrients I need to give them and how often. You information about care of sagos was very helpful, and I wonder if you could give… Read more »

scott rodgerson
scott rodgerson (@guest_8530)
2 months ago

I moved in to a situation where I have 3 Sago/s growing together. I pruned to display a more open blossoming look.

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scott rodgerson
scott rodgerson (@guest_8531)
2 months ago

Shows after pruning

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scott rodgerson
scott rodgerson (@guest_8532)
2 months ago

looks like 2 male and a female

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Terry
Terry (@guest_8800)
2 months ago

My palm just grew some leaves and they are turning yellow, and they are very long. Do I need to trim it?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Terry
2 months ago

Yellow foliage can be a sign of a nutrient imbalance, or over or underwatering. Be sure to water consistently, when the top few inches of the soil dries out, and ensure that your plants have good drainage. You can trim away the yellow foliage- it won’t turn green again.

Robert
Robert (@guest_9073)
1 month ago

Just one correction: A sago is NOT a palm, it’s a cycad. They belong to completely different phyla, and are not closely related at all.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Robert
1 month ago

That’s correct, Robert. We cover this in the article! Sagos are more closely related to conifers than palm trees.

Trisha
Trisha (@guest_9074)
1 month ago

Hi Gretchen! Thank you for such an informative article. A prawn had poked my thumb last year, it hurt and left a pin size mark which eventually healed. I had arthritic type pain in that thumb area for over six months and then it just went away (thank God). I am very careful handling that plant. Speaking of which, I am going to try planting it in the front yard. I live here in Georgetown TX. Any advice? It is 3 years old. I bring it in each winter. It has bloomed twice. I hope it doesn’t perish after it’s… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
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Reply to  Trisha
1 month ago

Ouch! Those fronds are spiky! Sorry to hear you had long-term trouble with the injury, and I’m happy to hear that the pain eventually subsided. Wow, two blooms in three years- that sounds like a happy and healthy plant. In Georgetown you’re in USDA Hardiness Zone 8b, so your sago should do well outdoors through the winter there. If you’d rather plant it in the ground rather than switching to a larger container, be sure to plant in an area that gets plenty of sun and that drains well, amended with well-draining soil. If you already have an established garden,… Read more »

Ed Bachman
Ed Bachman (@guest_9546)
Reply to  Allison Sidhu
25 days ago

Great, informative, discussion

Muffy
Muffy (@guest_9767)
12 days ago

Hello! When we moved from Chicago to LA 19 years ago, I was thrilled to be able to grow things like palm trees (but I know now that the sago is not really a Palm.) I planted a tiny one in this spot leading to our front door and now 15 years later, I realize that was not the best choice. Will it stay a manageable size because of the tiny area for roots, or should it come out? I realize now that we need to remove the pups if it can stay. Appreciate your thoughts! Thank you.

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Michelle Martin
Michelle Martin (@guest_9868)
5 days ago

I found a sago palm in an office at work. I do not know how long it has been there, it is yellow but all the palms are still attached..is there anyway to know if it has survived and what should i do to help it?