Introducing a tropical plant, sago palm—or also known as king sago palm—that can add up beauty to your yards. The plant’s long, large fronds look like those of palms, but as a matter of fact, sagos are cycads and still under the same family with conifer trees. If you like to grow the plant to decorate your outdoors—and get some health benefits from the plant, here are the important things to know about sago palm care.
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The Origin of Sago Palms
Sago palms (Cycas Revoluta) or more widely known as king sago palm are originally from a southern part of Japan. That is why they are also known as Japanese sago palm or bonsai sago palm as their size is like a miniature palm tree. This exotic, long-lasting plant can survive even without any regular sago palm care but can stunningly grow when properly cared.
These mini “palm” trees have existed since the prehistoric era, and their outstanding appearance is pretty dominant for an old-aged plant species. The other names for sago palms include palm cycads or Japanese funeral palms. It is because, in their native island in Japan, their foliage is used for funeral events.
The symmetrical plant has a bunch of fronds; each consists of dark green leaflets which grow out like feathers on a thick rough-skinned trunk. The trunk can grow branches many times which then produce multiple fronds. The mature plant can reach 10 feet (about 3 meters) tall when cared well outdoors
There are male and female sago palms. While the male sagos grow a hump (cone) as tall as 12 – 24 inches, the female ones grow a foliage structure that looks like a basket in the center upper part of the tree. The females also produce ovules, and the leaf structure opens up when they are ready to catch pollens—for fertilization process—from the males blown by the wind or carried by insects.
The Health Benefits from Sago Palms
In Indonesia, sago palms are also used for alternative herbal remedy. Freshly-picked or dried leaflets, seeds, and roots of sago palms can be used to treat some of the following diseases (with the instructions of use).
High blood pressure and pulmonary tuberculosis with a bloody cough
Boil 13 grams of sago palm leaves or 10-15 grams of its seeds with 4 cups of water. Drink this brewed water twice a day, one glass each.
Mix 15 drops of sago palm sap, 1 tablespoon of honey, and ¼ cup of boiled water, then stir evenly. Drink the mixture twice a day in the morning and evening.
Boil 13 grams of dried sago palm leaves with 2 cups of water. Drink the brewed water twice a day, ½ cup each.
Boil 15 grams of dried sago palm leaves with 4 cups of water. When cool, drink the brewed water twice a day, 1 cup each.
Please note that the seeds and hump (cone) of the upper part of sago palm are toxic, so the plant use should be carefully done. Symptoms of poisoning caused include dizziness and vomiting.
Growing Sago Palms
It takes a long time for a sago palm to grow but it is a long-lived plant—it can live for over 10 years. It can stand either direct or indirect full sunlight with temperatures ranging from 15 up to 120°F (-9.4 – 48.89°C). Treat sago palms as cactus, water the plant when it gets nearly dry and does not fertilize it too often.
If you want to keep your sago palm indoor, it means you have to place it wherever abundant sunlight can get through. Keep the plant outdoors when spring and summer begin. In the night, when temperatures drop, it is suggested to move your potted sago palm to a windowsill.
Even though sago palms can grow exposed to direct and total sunlight, they can optimally grow under the shades. If exposed too much full direct sunlight, the plant can get stressed out and sunburnt on the leaves. Growing in the shades will result in larger foliage and bigger plant. It also requires soil that is not too damp but moist enough that it does not dry out too fast. The following is all about sago palm care.
Important Things to Know on Sago Palm Tree Care
The next question will be how to care for a sago palm. Since sago palms are bonsai plant (miniature-sized plant), it requires a pot and proper sago palm care. The following instructions will suggest your basics on sago palm care.
During the winter or wet season, it is recommended that you put your sago palm indoors, on a flat tray containing some pebbles and water. This way, the surrounding of the tree will be humid as a result of water evaporation.
Sago palm watering should be done regularly even though it is not a daily must-do activity. Water your plant until it starts to run out of holes on the pot bottom.
For fertile soil of your sago palm, apply a balanced fertilizer once in a year—especially in springtime. Pour 1 tablespoon of fertilizer to your sago palm soil—specifically 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) from the tree trunk. Keep in mind that nutrient deficiency (such as magnesium or potassium) can result in yellowish leaves while the normally healthy color is green.
Pruning or grooming is done for artistic reasons since bonsai tree is an art form in its native lands, Japan and China. You may take away the hump that grows on the upper part of the tree carefully. If you leave it alone in its place, it will drop itself. You may cut ragged leaves off near the trunk as soon as new leaves have spread.
Problems in Sago Palm Maintenance
Since your sago palm is a miniature-sized tree, it will have more risks to face pest attack. You can treat your plant to get rid of diseases and insects. The rotting root caused by soaking wet soil is the most general problem you will have to deal with. Fortunately, proper sago palm watering and properly-drained soil will solve the problem.
The other good news is, outdoor grown sago palms are pretty safe from insect attacks. Yellowed, browned, spotted, and sunburned foliage are also sago palm problems—especially when the tree is grown under full, direct sunlight. Sago palms can stand temperatures below 15 °F (-9.4 °C) even though it will cause death to some of the leaves.
So, do good sago palm care and have stunning sago palms in your gardens or yards!