Sago Palm – Plant
Sago Palm is one of the most primitive living seed plants ever This plant very symmetrical plant that supports a crown of shiny, dark green leaves on a thick shaggy trunk that is typically about 20 cm (7.9 in) in diameter, sometimes wider. The trunk is very low to subterranean in young plants but lengthens above ground with age. It can grow into very old specimens with 6–7 m (over 20 feet) of the trunk; however, that produces multiple heads of beautiful leaves.
It is a tropical and sub-tropical showy evergreen that is related to conifers but looks more like a palm. The Sago Palm is very slow-growing and may take up to 50 or more years to reach 10 feet tall. It is frequently cultivated as a houseplant. The leaves grow from the trunk. They are shiny, palm-like, and have spiny tips and the margins of the leaves roll downward.
Sago Palm and Emperor Sago are closely related. Sago Palm has a leaf span of about 6 feet and brown stem color; whereas Emperor Sago has a leaf span of 10 feet with stems that are reddish-brown and leaflet margins are flat. It is also thought to be slightly more cold weather tolerant. Both of these plants are dioecious which means there must be a male and female plant to reproduce. They reproduce by using exposed seeds (gymnosperm), much like pines and fir trees. Both plants have a palm-like appearance, but they are not true palms. They do not flower, but they produce cones much like conifers.
The plant is native to the Japanese Island of Kyusha, the Ryukyu Islands, ad southern China. They are found in thickets along hillsides.
Sago Palm Basic Information
Common Name: Sago Palm.
Fertilizer: Feed monthly spring through fall with a liquid fertilizer (such as 18-6-18) diluted by half. Only fertilize when watering to avoid fertilizer burn. A slow-release fertilizer also works well, but I only use half the amount recommended on the package. The leaves will shrivel and dry up when it has been over-fed.
Height: Up to 6 ft (1.8 m) indoors. Can be kept dwarfed by growing it in a small pot. Sago Palm is also popularly grown as a bonsai tree.
Soil: Cactus mix works well. Or combine 2 parts peat-moss-based potting mix and 1 part sharp sand or perlite.
Sunlight: Bright light with some direct sun. Turn the pot a quarter turn at least once a week during the growing season. Otherwise, the plant will lean toward the light source.
Temperature: Temperature: Average room temperatures of 65°F (16°C) – 75°F (24°C) are suitable and no lower than 55°F (12.7°C).
Water: Take care to water the soil, not the crown of the plant which can lead to crown rot and may kill the plant. Water thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out a bit between watering, but don t allow it to dry out completely. Waterless in winter. Provide good drainage.
Planting and Care
Sago palms are very slow-growing plants that take a fair few years to reach their maximum height of approximately 2ft when grown indoors. A plant may only produce one leaf per year, so don’t expect lots of new foliage to appear during its growing period.
Foliage: A woody type base (called a caudex) which is the stem that produces pinnate fronds (multiple leaflets on a stalk) similar to a fern plant. These stiff and kind of brittle fronds grow over a foot long in an upwards fashion then arch over.
Do take care when handling – fronds get bent quite easily and it takes a long time for new fronds to appear.
Ease of growing: The sago palm is easy enough for most growers to care for and maintain, but not quite a beginner plant. You will need to provide plenty of bright light, above average humidity levels, do not over-water, and have plenty of patience with a young plant.