Sago plants appear exotic and high-maintenance, but they are straightforward to grow. Their forgiving nature makes them the perfect choice for even beginners.
They make excellent houseplants and are a common landscaping plant for warm climates.
Sagos or Cycas revoluta are not palm trees, despite having a similar appearance. Instead, they originate from the ancient Cycad family, dating back to the Carboniferous era.
Native to China and Southern Japan, their armor-like foliage has helped them survive even through the Jurassic Age.
Stiff, needle-like fronds sprout from the thick trunk of a Sago, making it look like it’s wearing multiple crowns.
The spear-shaped feathers make it very hard to dislodge the pups sprouting around the trunk base.
How Fast Does a Sago Plant Grow?
Sago’s palms have one of the slowest growth rates among plants. The planting location is a huge determinant of the growth rate; different spots will yield different annual growth. It is advisable to plant it outdoors in the ground to grow at the fastest rate of 1 to 2 inches per year.
The growth rate for Indoor Sago Plants: The slow-growing Sago plants require five or more years to attain the maximum height of approximately 2 or 3 feet.
The growth rate for Outdoor Sago Plants: When planted outdoors, they can grow to be magnificent 6 inches tall and 8 inches wide over time.
Propagation and Flowering
These slow-growing plants occasionally only grow one frond per year. There’s little chance of seeing new foliage during the growth period.
Propagation through seeds takes years before the plant can grow to be 2 feet tall. Luckily, you can find mature Sago plants at garden stores that last for years.
Cycas revoluta can take 10 to 15 years to reach the flowering stage. They might only bloom once every three years when grown outdoors under perfect conditions. They might never grow a flower when grown indoors.
Outdoor Growth of Sago Plants
Outdoor growth allows the Sago plant to achieve its full growth potential. The roots have liberty in taking up space and expanding as much as they require.
Immensely beneficial circumstances such as sandy soil, ample root growth, plenty of indirect sunlight, the right humidity, temperature level, and regular pruning are essential for the Sago plants to grow an inch per year until they are 10 to 12 feet tall.
Regular fertilization and soil drainage are some other factors to consider for a healthy Sago plant.
Sago plants should have well-drained soil to avoid water logging; detained water can cause root rot and stunt plant growth if left unchecked.
Tips for Growing an Outdoor Sago Plant
When grown outdoors, a Sago plant behaves like a tree and requires the same care regimen.
Outdoor Sago plants fare well in high and low temperatures. Except for prolonged freezes, Sagos tend to adjust to all temperatures.
The outdoor Sago trees can grow up to 10 feet tall, so you need to be aware of the eventual size while planting them. If you grow it too close to the house, its fronds will not get enough space to grow and spread.
Sago plants thrive in the direct morning sunlight and indirect afternoon light. Long exposure to intense sunlight can burn the fronds.
When they just start growing, Sago plants require plenty of water. After they’ve set roots, their water requirement drastically reduces. You’ll have to make sure to choose well-draining soil for your plant to prevent water logging.
Add a slow-acting fertilizer every spring season or compost every six months to promote the healthy growth of your sago.
Pruning & Trimming
Sago leaves can get tangled with each other if left on their own. The yellowed and dead fronds require regular pruning.
Similarly, the baby plants growing around the base need to be snapped or cut from where they’re joined to the parent plant.
Indoor Growth of Sago Plants
Sago has a growth rate of 1 to 2 inches per year in its natural habitat. When forced to grow indoors, in a limited space, this growth is severely impacted.
The roots are confined within the pot and unable to grow, resulting in constrained plant growth.
Indoor Sago can grow up to a maximum of 2 feet within 5 years if provided optimal care. This growth rate isn’t healthy, but it still lets you enjoy the beauty of this plant within your house.
This low-maintenance plant requires light watering every day. Water logging must be prevented, and the plant should be re-potted every 3 years to ensure the roots have enough growth space in the pot.
Tips for Growing an Indoor Sago Plant
An indoor Sago thrives in bright light and temperatures between 65 and 75°F.
Place your Sago plant away from windows that receive a lot of direct sunshine and keep rotating the pot, so the plant stays erect and doesn’t bend in search of light from the nearby window.
Place the Sago where it doesn’t get overshadowed by other plants; otherwise, its fronds will start drooping. If you have a bright light in the room, your Sago can act as a beautiful table plant.
Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, and you can have a dead plant on your hands. People who usually forget to water their plants can not go wrong with this plant!
An indoor Sago’s water requirements are almost identical to succulents or cacti.
Trimming & Pruning
The sharp fronds of a Sago turn yellow over time and require trimming. If left unattended, the plant will end up wasting its mineral resources on the dead fronds.
Prune the stalks next to the plant’s stem using pruning shears. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands.
Sago’s palms prefer somewhat acidic and well-draining soil. pH 5.5 to 6.5 works best for these plants. A slow-release fertilizer in summer and spring makes the plants healthy all year.
Sago’s root ball will become root-bound in spring. When that happens, it is time to replace the pot with a bigger one.
You also need to change the soil in the container and place the plant outside, in a spot with filtered sunlight, for a few days.
Toxicity and Infestation
If eaten, all components of the sago plant, especially seeds, are hazardous to humans and pets. Keep your children and animals away from the plant at all times.
Scale infestations are common in Sago plants. If you notice that, address it immediately. The yellowing of new leaves is an indication of the magnitude of the problem at hand.
Sometimes, overwatering also leads to yellowed growth.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How Tall Do Sago Plants Grow?
Cycas rumphii, or queen sago, can grow up to 15 feet when presented with the best soil, water, and light conditions.
The maximum height of king sago plants is between 10 to 12 feet.
The indoor sago plants grow a maximum of 2 to 3 feet within 5 years, with regular pruning, fertilization, and re-potting.
- What is the expected Age of a Sago Plant?
Provided good enough conditions, the life expectancy of a Sago can be greater than 100 years.
They date back to the carboniferous period, 200 million years earlier than the Jurassic age. These hardened Cycadales have an extreme tolerance to weather conditions.
They take years to fully mature and can keep on growing for decades afterward.
- Is a Sago Plant Expensive?
Considering it has one of the slowest growth rates among plants, the cost of a Sago plant depends on its age and size. Gardening stores and nurseries charge anywhere from $5 to $200 for a Sago plant. Small to medium-sized Sagos might be available for $15 to $25, and the bigger ones might cost $200.
Seeds are a cheaper option, but the germination alone can take up to 3 months. They also require a fixed temperature and other care protocols.
- Is There Anything That Can Kill a Sago Plant?
Overwatering makes way for water logging, which leads to functional infection, causing root rot. Freezing temperatures can kill a Sago, and direct sunlight slashes the plant’s photosynthetic ability.
Long exposures to freezing temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit result in the death of the plant. A prolonged decrease of cycas revoluta can lead to stunted growth and, consequently, the death of the plant.
- Why Does My Sago Plant Have Yellow Leaves?
All sago plants will inevitably grow yellow leaves. This is a typical response as the plant consumes nutrients, making the older leaves yellow, then brown, but this isn’t any cause for concern.
If, however, your sago plant’s new fronds are turning yellow, this might be an indication of a nutritional deficiency. You’ll have to add fertilizer to the soil to revive the plant.
- Where Should I Plant My Sago Plant?
This tropical plant should be grown outdoors in a spot that receives indirect sunlight. Too much sunlight will burn the chlorophyll, and too little light will hamper photosynthesis and the growth rate.
If you live in the US and you’re looking to add a bit of greenery to your home, a Sago plant is the way to go. These plants spruce up the place and provide a more lively look. However, you need to be aware of this plant’s growth requirements to ensure that you keep it happy and healthy for years to come.
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.