September 28th, 2007
Sago Palm, Cycas revoluta

Sago palm

Once a year (although never at the same time of year in my garden), the Sago palm sends up new fronds.

Sago palm

Sago palms are VERY slow growing plants. As such, they are rather expensive.

Sago palm

I started out with a very small plant about ten years ago.

Sago palm

Sago palms are not true palms, but cycads–a very primitive type of plant which has survived a lot. We need survivors here in central Texas. Their deep green fronds give them a very tropical appearance but, in fact, these native of Japan do not like to be overwatered or have wet feet. I’ve found mine to be extremely drought-tolerant. However, if they are in full Texas sun and the temperatures are in the high 90s or 100s, the fronds tend to get sunburned. Mine is planted where it gets some afternoon shade.

Sago palms are often used as potted plants. They can stand temperatures as low as 20F degrees (some people say 15F) which means that they have no problem surviving outside in the ground during most Austin winters.

by M Sinclair Stevens

13 Responses to post “Sago Palm, Cycas revoluta”

  1. From Steve Mudge:

    Primitive indeed–Sagos are a precursor to the conifers (an ancient plant family itself). You’ve probably seen their conifer-like cones instead of flowers.
    Those sure are nice photos–there’s nothing like the exuberance of a Sago’s new flush of leaves.
    On their cold hardiness–my parents lost their 30 year old Sago after a chill of 18 degrees–so when in doubt, cover ’em up!

  2. From Diana - Austin:

    Nice pictures — it’s so fun when the new fronds come up. I moved a very large one last year, and after some shock, it is now fine and dandy. And I’m thrilled to report that there are two pups in the old spot in its previous bed. One of which I am about to transplant tomorrow to the front cormer of my new “BIG BED.” I was also pleased to learn that they are safe to 20 degrees. I always panicked at 28, but never lost any — next time I’ll chill til it hits 20! (Covering them is soooooo hard!)

  3. From Yolanda Elizabet:

    I love palms and even have one myself. Mine lives outside when it’s not freezing and inside in my conservatory when it is too cold outside.

    Your sago palm looks very pretty. Those new fronds made me think of ferns and how their new fronds unfurl. Ferns are another firm favorite of mine.

  4. From Kris at Blithewold:

    There’s something so fun about watching new growth emerge like that – I can be stopped in my tracks just to soak up the freshness of a new leaf or frond! How long was your time-lapse?

    I was going to put the dates in and now I have to go back and double-check. I believe it was one photo each morning, except for the first two photos which were taken at same time from different angles. So, over three mornings. –mss

  5. From Ki:

    Very interesting information. Unfortunately our two sago palms did not do well indoors so we got rid of them. They didn’t get enough light and the fronds drooped giving it a flattened look.

    I read that they like a lot of sun. Indoors they’d probably need an especially sunny room. Mine started out as a potted plant but then got too big. I keep all my potted plants outdoors except during our rare freezes. My potted plants usually die because I forget to water them during the summer. All it takes is one 100 degree day. — mss

  6. From Angelina:

    I love to see new growth on plants. I almost get as excited over tender growth as many women do about new babies.

  7. From Bonnie in Austin:

    I love when the Sagos send up new fronds. It looks so alien-like.

  8. From Tim - India:

    Not sure if anyone can help …. I’m in India and have a large one of these (in a pot). Its doing fine and is about to sprout new growth for the second time in 6 months. Problem is that the leaves are covered in small hard pod like things that have a crisp shell but when crushed are red goo. Any ideas?

    Sorry, I don’t. It sounds like some kind of beetle. This is definitely an issue where local advice is best. I’d be interested in knowing what you find out, though. — mss

  9. From Tim - India:

    It was a beetle – the man at the shop didn’t really know and sold me some industrial insecticide (smelt petroleum based).
    Sprayed it liberally in strong sunlight (his recommendation) left it a few hours and then scrapped them all off. Cut off all the lower growth that wasn’t good and green and hosed it dowm the next day. I don’t want to do that again as the damn thing makes me itch alot if I touch it too much.

    Looks much better now.

    Thanks for the followup. I love blogging because it enables us gardeners to share our personal experiences. — mss

  10. From Tim - India:

    I have to shift the damn thing next week…. and its bloody heavy. I really should leave it behind but its about to sprout. Have a beer on me in the Continental Club. Leave it on a tab and mark it Tim.

  11. From Kim Austin:

    When is a good time to transplant Sago palms? During the last 6 years, our Sago palm has multiplied and we want to move the offspring to a new location.

    The best time to transplant in Austin is in the fall. Sago palms can be damaged by temperatures in the teens. If the offspring are very small, you might want to keep them in pots a few years especially since the weather forecast for winter 2009 is colder than average. –mss

  12. From jackie- rosemead, ca:

    Hello i have 6 sago’s growing off 1 plant is that possible? If so how can i remove them to sell them and how much are they worth?

    Yes, it’s possible. You can slice them off the mother plant with a shovel. Be sure to slice below the ground to get the root as well. It’s worth whatever you can get for it. — mss

  13. From jon:

    Hi I bought a sago palm in late winter of this year, it has been doing great until this summer last week it put out a new flush but i was expecting more then just 1 frond to pop up. At this time of new growth i never let the soil dry out completely It is in a room with an east and a west window it gets like less then an hour of direct morning sunlight, but with bright indirect sunlight the rest of the day! What do you think about the 1 frond flush is it normal?