Sago Palm, although not a true palm, offers a look into what life looked on prehistoric Earth. These glossy, dark green cycads have been growing and thriving since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. As you can imagine, the plants are incredibly hardy houseplants, or can even be planted outdoors in full sun where hardy. The feathery foliage on Sago Palm makes an excellent background plant for a corner indoors, or an accent plant on an end table in the living room or dining room.
Growing Zone: 9-11
Mature Height: 30″-36″
Mature Width: 30″-36″
Classification: Green Foliage
Sunlight: Fluorescent light to Full sun (if outdoors)
Habit: Palm tree habit, unlikely to flower in containers
Flower Color: Brown inflorescence
Foliage: Dark green, glossy
Soil Condition: Likes to stay dry
Water Require: Likes to dry out between watering
Uses: Hardy plant to keep indoors or outside
Does Not Ship To: AK, AZ, CA, HI, OR, WA
Sago palm are classified by a large cylindrical trunk that does not branch, and leaves that unfurl from a center rosette, usually falling as they grow old leaving a crown of leaves at the top growth point of the plant. Sago Palm are one type of cycad that have been around since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and they have evolved little since then. Dark green, glossy and smooth foliage is extremely symmetrical and geometric, making this a very attractive plant to view from above. In containers, these plants typically will not flower. Outdoors, the sago palm produces a brown, upright inflorescence that once pollinated will produce small, toxic seeds.
Because of their solid green foliage, Sago Palm will match virtually any space and color indoors or outdoors. Sago Palm are incredibly slow growing, low maintenance plants. The most common problem that people encounter is giving them too much water; these plants are prone to rotting if soil does not drain properly from the container or location they’re planted in. Sago Palms are very low maintenance plants.
Light Requirement of Sago Palm:
Indoors, Sago Palm will tolerate fluorescent light, but prefer bright light from a windowsill for several hours. Eastern or western facing windows generally provide enough light for Sago Palms to be happy. Outdoors, Sago Palms like to be in part to full sun.
Watering Sago Palm:
Sago Palm needs to dry out between watering, and they are prone to root rot and death. If you’re unsure about whether or not to water, do not water. The soil should be almost completely dry before watering again in containers. Outdoors, Sago Palms should be located in an area that drains very well, as they will not tolerate sitting in water for extended periods. Sandy soil or mixing sand with the potting mix to transplant is generally a good idea to encourage drainage.
Fertilizing Sago Palm:
Any all purpose, foliage fertilizer will work for Sago Palms. Indoor houseplant fertilizers fall into two groups: water soluble, liquid quick release, and granular, slow release fertilizers. Jack’s Classic Indoor plant food works well as a powder, quick release fertilizer that is mixed with water to quickly provide nutrients to a plant that has been in a container for an extended time. On the other hand, Biotone Starter or Osmocote Indoor/Outdoor is an option as a granular, slow release fertilizer that can be applied while potting and planting. Any type of fertilizer offers nutrients that help plants with the transition to a new environment. We offer a one year warranty on our plants when you purchase Bio-tone at checkout and use it per label instructions. All of these fertilizers may be used when planting Sago Palms indoors or outdoors. Keep in mind that Sago Palms tend to grow very slowly, even if they are fed regularly.
Best Growing Soil for Sago Palm:
Sago Palms need a very well draining soil, and prefer to have dry conditions. Adding sand to potting mix or mixing sand with existing soil outdoors helps with drainage. Avoiding an area with clay soil if planting outdoors would contribute to better drainage. Mixing in sand and avoiding clay are both beneficial steps to avoiding root rot.
History and introduction of Sago Palm:
Sago Palm is a very long lived plant that has survived since prehistoric times. The Sago Palm that are grown commercially stem from plants found in the Ryuku islands in Japan. Although commonly called Sago Palm, these plants are actually a type of cycad. Cycads are more closely related to conifers and gingkos than they are to true palms. These cycads have changed very little since their origin 200 million years ago. It is normal to see small pups forming either at the base of the trunk or near the foliage at the top of the plant. Alternately, once plants reach maturity, they can be bred to produce seeds and new plants. Sago Palms are dioecious, meaning that plants are either male or female, but not both. Female Sago Palms are pollinated by either the wind or flying insects, which carry pollen from the male plant. After pollination, female Sago Palms produce a small, round seed similar to a series of acorns in the center of the foliage. The seeds will change color, from a light yellow-tan to a deeper orange red, and the coverings around the seeds will start to open slightly. This is the signal that the Sago Palm seeds are ready to be separated and planted.
Cycas revoluta is the Latin name for Sago Palms, which refers to their way of producing new fronds: in a revolution, or complete circle in the center of the plant.