Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta)
The Sago palm (Cycas Revoluta) is one of the plants that could be considered “living fossil”. It already existed before the dinosaurs appeared and, in fact, it is believed that they began their evolution more than 300 million years ago. An evolution that, despite the time that has already elapsed, has hardly changed much. All of it is designed to withstand different climates, both very hot and cold, so it is perfect to have in all kinds of gardens, regardless of the temperatures in the area.
And if that were not enough, it can grow on all types of soils, including limestone. And, what is more interesting if it fits: it is very, very easy to take care of. If you do not believe me, check out this guide on the Cycas Revoluta or Sago Palm we have prepared for you.
Characteristics of the Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta)
Humans like cycas, not everyone of course, but a good number of them. The proof of this is that it has become very popular in practically the whole world, except in the poles and in the deserts, because although it is very rustic, it does not tolerate extreme temperatures . But for the rest, it decorates the parks and the public and private gardens of a lot of people. Why? Well, before answering that question, let’s first see what its main characteristics are.
The Cycas is a scientifically known plant with the name of Cycas revoluta , but commonly it is called Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta). It belongs to the botanical family Cicadaceae, and is native to southern Japan. It has a cylindrical stem covered with scars that leave the leaves as they fall. Leaves that by the way are pinnate, of intense green color by the beam, and lighter on the underside, up to 150cm long and coriaceous (that is, a little hard). It grows slowly until reaching a total height of 3m, but in culture it rarely exceeds 2m.
It is a dioic plant , that is, there are male feet and female feet. The first emit a lateral spike that can reach 60cm in height; On the other hand, the second ones have rounded cones which contain the macrospores, which are female spores.
It must also be said that it is very toxic if any part of the plant is ingested, especially the seeds since they contain a higher level of the cycasin, that is, the toxin. The symptoms of poisoning can range from mild gastrointestinal irritation to liver failure. For this reason it is extremely important to avoid putting it in gardens where there are small children and / or pets. Dogs and cats often ignore it, but if you do not want to risk it, better put another plant.
It has a life expectancy of 300 years .
Is the Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta) is a palm tree?
Despite its appearance, it is not a palm tree. The cycas, as we said, belongs to the family of the cycads; the palm trees on the contrary are of the Arecaceae family. Our protagonist has a much older origin, and also unlike palm trees produce spores to reproduce.
It is a plant in the kingdom of Gymnosperms (such as conifers or the Ginkgo tree), which was the first to inhabit the planet Earth about 400 million years ago.
Care of the Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta)
The sago palm is very rustic and adaptable, being able to have both in pot and in the garden. Let’s see what care you need in one place or another:
Thanks to its slow growth and its small size, you can have in pots decorating, for example, the balcony, terrace or home. To have it perfect, it is recommended to take care of it in the following way:
- Location: will grow better in the direct sun outside, but may be in semi-shade. Indoors put in a very bright room.
- Irrigation: occasional, avoiding puddling. Ideally, let the substrate dry completely before re-watering.
- Substrate: with good drainage. A good mixture would be black peat and pearlite in equal parts.
- Transplant: every 2-3 years, in spring, to a pot 2-3cm wider.
- Fertilization: from spring to summer, it is advisable to pay with a mineral fertilizer for green plants combined with a liquid organic fertilizer, such as guano. Pay once with one and after a month with another.
- Pruning: it is not necessary to prune, but you can remove the leaves that are already yellow and / or brown.
On the Garden
If you have, even if it is a small garden, the cica can be very well in any corner, for example, near the entrance of the house. It is taken care of in the following way:
- Location: advisable to plant it in an area where the direct sunlight hits.
- Irrigation: during the first and second years, it should be watered at least once a week. From the third, as your root system has already adapted to the terrain and the cultivation conditions, you can space the irrigations a little, leaving them at one every 15 days.
- Soil: it is not demanding in terms of soil type.
- Transplant: the time to pass it from pot to soil will be in spring, proceeding to make a 50cm x 50cm plantation hole. It can also be done in summer if you live in a mild climate.
If you want to go from soil to pot, you have to make four deep ditches of 50-60cm, and with a laya (which is a kind of straight shovel), it is prized until the plant comes out with the root ball. Then, it is planted in a large pot -of at least 30cm in diameter-, with porous substrate such as black peat and perlite in equal parts. Then, it is located in a sunny area and watered.
- Fertilizer: it is not very necessary, but it will grow much better and we will avoid problems if we pay it from spring until the beginning of autumn, with the same fertilizers as in the previous case (one month mineral fertilizer, liquid organic fertilizer the following).
- Pruning: remove the yellow and / or brown leaves.
Whether it is in a pot or on the ground, it is important to know that it resists frost of up to -11ºC and temperatures as high as 42ºC.
Reproduction of the Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta)
The Cycas is a plant that, due to its slow growth, is usually reproduced more by chicks, although it can also be made by seeds. Let us know how to proceed in each case:
In spring, the leaves that leave the base of the mother plant are cut with a knife without a saw, and the base of our future Cicas is impregnated with liquid rooting hormones. Afterwards, they will be planted in individual pots with a substrate that has good drainage (like black peat and perlite in equal parts, or replace the perlite with the river sand), and water.
Finally, they will be placed in a zone protected from the direct sun and given generous watering. Important: avoid that the substrate dries completely and that it becomes waterlogged. An excess or a lack of water can endanger the sucker.
The seeds should be placed in a glass with water for two days, renewing it every 24 hours. Then, fill a pot with perlite and vermiculite in equal parts, water it, and sow the seeds until they are buried to their half or so.
Germinate in 2-6 months , always keeping the substrate moist. They have a very irregular germination. But if you keep them near a source of heat, at a temperature of 20-25ºC, they will germinate earlier than expected.
Pests and diseases of the Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta)
The Cica is very resistant to pests and diseases, but an error in the crop can harm it a lot.
The pest that can affect you are the woodlice . These insects love the warm, dry summer weather, so if the plant shows any signs of weakness, they will take advantage of their sap to drink.
As they can be seen with the naked eye, they can be removed with a swab of the ears moistened with soap and water , or even with the same cloth. But if there are many, I recommend more using a chemical insecticide such as Chlorpyrifos.
If we talk about diseases, the one that could affect you would be fungal (fungal). The fungi appear if there is an excess of moisture, damaging the roots. They are difficult to treat, so it is important not to overdo the risks, and make preventive treatments during the spring and fall with sulfur or copper.
Other problems of the Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta)
In addition to mealybugs and fungi, you may also have other problems, but these are more related if possible with the culture conditions:
- Leaves with small yellow spots and dry tips: lack of potassium. Pay with a rich fertilizer in this mineral.
- Yellow lower leaves: excess water or fertilizer. Suspend the risks and the subscriber for 15-20 days.
- Leaves that lose color to dry: it can be for several reasons, such as too low temperatures, inadequate location or excess water. Depending on the cause, one must proceed in one way or another. For example, if it is cold, I advise you to wrap it with a thermal blanket; if it is due to an incorrect location, if it is possible, change it; and if it is for excess water, suspend the watering two weeks.
- Leaves that get ugly from one day to the next: this usually happens if we buy it in a nursery where they had it in an area protected from the direct sun, and we passed it directly to a very sunny area. In this case, you have to put it in a semi-shaded area, and gradually accustom it to direct sunlight (20 minutes a week, 40 minutes the next, etc.).
And up to here our article about the Cycas. Did you like it? Let us know in the comments, please.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.