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Please read this Important Information About Sago Palms! The Sago Palm, also known as (Cycas Revoluta) isn’t technically a true palm tree. It is a ancient tropical-looking plant that produces nuts but doesn’t flower or grow fruit. They are an ancient plant dating back some 200 million years and are native to warm parts of Japan and southern China. Learn about all the Important Information About Sago Palms before you buy!
Today I am writing about a plant I don’t actually own. I did indeed purchase one and eve watered it. I went to read something about the plant, guess what I found out about it. It is toxic and poisonous to humans and animals. I purchased it at Lowe’s and there was no warning label regarding this plant. Because of my safety and others that live around me plus animals, I decided it was not worth the $15 and I put it in a black trash bag to dispose of it.
What is a Sago Palm plant?
A Sago Palm — also known as cycas revoluta, Japanese sago palm, sago cycad, and more — is a species of gymnosperm in the Cycadaceae family (aka Cycads). There are a few other types of sago palms, including cycas rumphii and cycas cirinalis.
Types of Sago Palms
Most plants use the common name of sago palms, though Cycas revoluta is the most widely cultivated. The other species include:
- Cycas rumphii (queen sago): Grows more like a tree than a shrub, reaching about 15 feet tall
- Cycas circinalis (queen sago palm): Tree-like, reaching nearly 10 feet tall, and is native to India
- Metroxylon sagu (true sago palm): A true palm and is part of the botanical family that contains other popular trees
How do you care for a Sago Palm?
Sago Palms appreciate a warm and bright environment, though harsh sunlight can damage the foliage. They like humidity, supplemented by misting them regularly with clean water from a spray bottle. Sitting water can cause root rot.
These type of plants are sensitive to overwatering and poorly drained soil. Make sure the soil surface dries out in between watering’s. Choose a pot with drainage holes for container plantings. Many gardeners prefer to use unglazed terra cotta pots because excess soil moisture can evaporate through the porous pot.
Cycads are one of the oldest plant families still in existence today — hundreds of millions of years old.
Gymosperms also include conifers, which are woody plants like evergreens — pine, spruce, fir, and cedar trees, for example. Gymnosperms are used to make lumber, obviously. They are also used to make paper, resin, soap, varnish, nail polish, perfumes, and more. Pretty cool, huh!
As you look at the sago palm, you’ll realize that it isn’t actually a true palm at all! It looks a lot like the evergreen trees you might see in a local forest when you take a closer peek.
The sago-palm-not-palm-tree hails from southern Japan, including the Ryukyu islands. It is one of several species of plants used to produce sago, which is a starch extracted from the spongy core tissue of some tropical palm stems.
What does a cycas revoluta look like?
That’s right — it’s not a palm. It just looks kind of like one because the leaves grown up and out from the trunk, much like a traditional palm tree.
Sago palm plants have thick, highly textured trunks that are several inches wide. As the plant ages, the trunks grow taller.
A palm-like pattern of leaves emerge from the top of the trunk, but in mature sago palms, trunks can branch many times. This creates several different “crowns” of palm-like leaves.
The leaves are a spiky, glossy dark green that grows out in a rosette pattern that reminds me a lot of how the ponytail palm grows from its beefy trunk. The crowns of leaves can grow quite large – several feet, in fact.
As the leaves grow, you’ll also notice that some develop protective spikes like a cactus would. So, between the sharp, pointy leaves and the barbs they eventually sprout, this is not a plant you’d want to fall into. (One reason I didn’t keep this plant is: I have cats and lots of neighbor children around plus it is also poisonous to humans.)
Is sago palm a good houseplant?
In the right home, the sago palm also makes a lovely houseplant! In fact, because the sago palm isn’t frost tolerant, you’ll probably need to grow it indoors year around. If you can get around that this plant is harmful, then this is one of the easiest houseplants you can grow. This plant is a living fossil, dating back to prehistoric times. Read this blog post before buying — Costa Farms
But while the sago palm is a cool plant with a striking appearance, it isn’t something I’m willing to have in my home. Why is that, you ask, when I love all kinds of outdoor plants? Well, it’s because it’s very toxic and I just do not have plants indoors unless I have to.
Sago Palm plants & toxicity
According to the ASPCA, the sago palm’s toxic principle is cycasin, which is a carcinogenic and neurotoxic glucoside found in cycads. Ingesting it can cause vomiting, melena, icterus (jaundice), increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver damage, liver failure, and death.
All parts of the plant are toxic, and the seeds contain the highest levels of cycasin. Nature isn’t always pretty — that’s the moral of this story. But if you don’t have any concerns about anyone or anything in your home ingesting any part of a sago palm, it is TOTALLY safe to have in your home.
Are sago palms poisonous to touch?
However, if you are pruning or repotting the plant, I recommend wearing gloves and washing your hands thoroughly afterward. Also, beware of the fact that the leaves are sharp — even more so when they develop barbs like a cactus.
Sago palm care & lighting needs
So, if you do choose to get a sago palm, let’s talk about caring for it! Sago palms do best in bright, indirect light.
How often do you water sago palms?
When it comes to water and sago palm care, think of it like it’s a succulent or a cactus. They are very sensitive to overwatering. You can let the plant’s soil dry out almost completely before watering it again.
Choose a soil that you’d use for a succulent. Any cactus or succulent soil will do the trick. You can also mix in horticultural grit and perlite to a soil mix to give it that succulent-soil-like feel.
Using a sandy, well-draining soil will help ensure that no water sits around the plant’s root system. This will lead to rot. The sago palm will take what it needs and pass the rest through the drainage holes, storing water in its reserves.
What is the best pot for a sago palm?
Because the sago palm is so prone to overwatering, a terracotta pot is a great choice. Terracotta is incredibly absorbent, and it will help regulate moisture levels in the plant’s soil. Keep in mind that if your terracotta pot is glazed or sealed, it will not help with moisture regulation because the clay will no longer be absorbent.
How fast does a sago palm grow?
Sago palms are extremely slow growers. They rarely need to be repotted, even in ideal growing conditions.
How tall does a sago palm get?
A sago palm can grow up to 10 feet wide and tall… but remember, that is in its native habitat. As a houseplant, it almost certainly will not reach that size.
Can you keep a Sago Palm small?
It’s difficult to prune the plant too much to control its size. That’s because of the way the leaves grow out in rosette-style patterns. However, because sago palm plants are so slow growing, you can buy a small plant and expect it to stay small for a long time.
This plant — the sago palm doesn’t require much pruning. This helps streamline the sago palm care routine. If you notice leaves that have browned completely, you can prune them off.
However, the plant is pretty low maintenance and shouldn’t experience many dying leaves if it is happy.
Should I cut yellow leaves off a sago palm?
If you notice yellow leaves on your sago palm, you may be tempted to cut them off. I am always tempted to cut off any yellowing, dying leaves on all of my plans! And I often do.
But the best thing to do is to wait for the leaf to die off completely before cutting it off. If yo cut it off too early, you are interrupting the death “process.” Try to hold off as long as you can until it completely dies!
Sago palm care: Temperature & humidity needs
These plants are funny with their temperature needs. While they like warm temperatures (70s, 80s, and even 90s Fahrenheit), they also can make t out of a cold snap or two alive.
That means that they will do fine in most normal household temperature ranges. But if you have your sago palm outside for the spring and summer, you’ll want to bring it indoors.
The sago palm can last a bit longer outdoors than many other vacationing houseplants. While frost will likely damage the plant’s foliage, it can actually do fine with a few nightly temperature dips down into the 30s Fahrenheit.
I wouldn’t make a habit of it, though. The plant will surely go dormant in temperatures that low. You will risk damaging the plant with frost, you’ll probably want to drag it indoors when the temperatures begin getting down into the low 50s or high 40s at night.
The sago palm also loves humidity! However, if you have it in a lower humidity environment, it will probably do just fine. It’s pretty tolerant and flexible when it comes to moisture in the air.