The Sago Palm is a perennial shrub native to Japan and South China. Cycas revoluta is not a true Palm tree but from ancient tropical and subtropical plants. Sago Palm trees make an excellent floor plant due to its size.
Sago Palm Tree Appearance
The Japanese Sago Palm grows from a single, thick trunk. The plant does not produce branches. Instead, the feathery foliage grows out from the center of the stalk in a ring formation. The average size of a Sago Palm is 2 to 3 feet (61 cm to 0.9 meters) but the plant can grow to 10 feet (3 meters) tall after several decades. The tree does not bloom but does produce nuts.
Sago Palm Trees Light Requirements
Avoid exposing the plant to full sun. Instead provide bright, indirect light to avoid foliage burn. A position near an East or West-facing window works well. Low lighting results in sparse leaves and an unhealthy plant. Plants that are moved outside do best in dappled sunlight.
Watering the Japanese Sago Palm
The Sago Palm requires moderate watering to thrive. Provide water when the top 2 inches of the soil feels dry when a finger is inserted. Pour water until the soil is evenly moist but never soggy. Reduce watering in the winter, providing just enough to keep the plant hydrated and avoid damage.
Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
Grow the Sago Palm in a well-draining soil with some organic matter added for nutrients. Use a cactus or palm soil, amended with some compost, for optimal growth. From spring to fall, feed the plant once per month with a liquid 18-8-18 NPK fertilizer. As an alternative, use a slow-release fertilizer 2 or 3 times during the growing season. Water the plant first to avoid burning the roots, and withhold feedings in the winter when growth slows during dormancy.
Temperature and Humidity Requirements
The Japanese Sago Palm prefers a warm and humid environment. The plant is not frost tolerant, so avoid temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit ( 10 degrees Celsius). Average household temperatures are sufficient but keep the tree away from cold or hot air vents as temperature fluctuations damage the plant. For dry climates, place a tray filled with small pebbles and water under the plant’s saucer.
Propagation Sago Palm Trees
Division is the best method for propagating Sago Palms. Offsets grow from the base of the mother plant. Separate the offsets either manually or using a sharp and sterile knife if the offset does not come off easily. Place the offset in a tray for a few days, in low light, to form a callous. Fill a small pot with a cactus or palm soil and plant the offset. Water the new plant well and place the pot in a sunny place. Let the top inch of soil dry between waterings. Roots will form in approximately two months.
Common Pests and Diseases
Scale and spider mites are common pests to watch for on your Japanese Sago Palm. The insects will be visible and foliage will show damage and discoloration. Remove any damaged leaves. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove the insects if only a few are present. For larger infestations, treat the tree with neem oil.
Root rot is a common disease caused by over-watering your Sago Palm, resulting in fungal growth in the soil. Initial signs of rot include wilting leaves, dropped leaves, and oozing, black sores on the tree’s trunk. Remove the palm from its pot and remove any dark or mushy roots with a sharp and sterile knife. Repot the tree in a clean pot with fresh soil to stop the transfer of the fungus. Advanced cases of root rot may not be reversible.
The Sago Palm is a low-maintenance, tropical tree with great visual appeal. The palm is considered a low-water plant, making it a great choice for busy people. Use this large, floor plant in a foyer or to add a tropical vibe to a sunny room.
Sago Palm FAQ
Remove yellowing or dead leaves to redirect energy into healthy growth. Always use sharp and sterile shears and cut as close to the trunk as possible.
On average, Sago Palm trees grow a few inches taller per year and add one new frond.
The Sago Palm does best outdoors in USDA zones 9 to 10.
Yes, the Sago Palm is considered toxic and should be kept away from pets and small children.
Yes, it is recommended to wear gloves whenever handling this plant. All parts of the plant are considered toxic and the leaves develop sharp barbs that may pierce the skin during handling.