How to Prune Your Cycad Palm [Useful Tips]

Cycad Palms are also known as Sago Palms. This pretty plant adds a warm, tropical vibe to the landscape. You can grow the Cycad Palm both indoors and outdoors. These plants are relatively low-maintenance and toxic to humans and animals if ingested.

Cycad Palms usually require pruning as they can develop yellowish-brown foliage. They can also develop an abundance of ‘heads,’ called ‘pups.

Trimming all damaged fronds in the fall or early spring is best. This will keep the Cycad Palm healthy and beautiful. You can also remove the pups or baby Cycad Palms that grow around the plant.

When it comes to how to prune a Cycad Palm, make sure you wear long sleeves and gloves to remain protected.

Read: Majesty Palm Turning Yellow

Cycad Palms or Sago Palms are ancient plants. Fossils of the Cycad Palm dating back to the Mesozoic period were discovered approximately 250 million years before.

Cycad Palms are slow growing and long-lived. They resemble a Palm as they have a singular trunk and foliage sprouting from above. These plants are not known to create stems. However, a portion of their trunk is called a stem.

Cycad Palms strive within US hardiness zone eight to ten. These include states like California, Arizona, and Texas.

These Palms are also known to be dioecious by nature. The plant is divided into male and female cycads.

These Palms hit sexual maturity when they are twenty years old. At this age, both female and male plants produce cones. One cone produces pollen, while the other produces the seed, which can be fertilized.

Cycads don’t require much care and attention. They prefer growing in warm climates and are an attractive addition to the landscape. Even though they grow slowly, they require periodic pruning.

When cared for and pruned correctly, these plants have textured trunks and a beautiful umbrella-shaped appearance.

Read: Sago Palm Leaves Curling

How to Prune a Cycad Palm

As mentioned above, excessively pruning your Cycad Palm and removing all yellowing fronds is harmful to the plant. It can increase the chances of pests and infections and also decrease growth.  

Only the dead or diseased portion of the foliage should be removed entirely. If desired, the yellowing fronds can be trimmed.

Pruning the plant’s flower and fruit stalks is also possible.

Steps to Prune the Cycad Palm

Step One

Thoroughly examine your Cycad Palm and locate all browned and yellowed leaves. Chances are the plant’s oldest leaves will have discolored.

Step Two

Place the shears on the discolored fronds as close to the stem as possible. Snip the frond off in a clean manner. Repeat this process with all browned fronds.

Step Three

As you snip off the dead fronds, discard each leaf. Don’t ever leave the snip frond near the plant. This can cause the disease to spread.

It is advised to prune your Cycad Palm at least once a year. You can do this in any season. Removing the dead fronds will redirect the plant’s energy to growing new foliage.

The presence of discolored leaves in the Cycad Palm is common. But sometimes, yellowing fronds can also imply growth problems.

Fertilizing the plant too often or over-watering it can cause its fronds to become yellow. At times, depleted soil can also have this effect on the plant.

Useful Tips on How to Prune a Cycad Palm

  • It’s a great idea to prune the Cycad Palm in Spring. Pruning in winter is not advised. The presence of dead fronds can protect the plant’s trunk from winter damage.
  • Several varieties of the Cycad Palm have sharp tips. It’s best to wear safety goggles when pruning these, to prevent eye injury.
  • Never leave cut fronds on the plant or the ground near it. This can cause infestations and diseases. Please dispose of the dead fronds as you snip them.
  • When maintaining your Cycad Palm, pruning dead leaves once a year is sufficient. However, if you prune more than once, that should be okay too.
  • It’s a good idea to prune the Cycad Palm’s cones. These cones can be unsightly, mainly if they are not pollinated.
  • You can also prune the Cycad Palm’s roots. However, be very careful when doing this. The roots are fleshy and delicate and should only be pruned under certain circumstances, such as when creating bonsai.
  • In this case, you will trim away all damaged roots and then plant the roots in a container.
  • You can also treat the roots with a fungicide.
  • It’s also a good idea to prune the Cycad Palm’s trunk. You can cut the plant from the top if you feel it is too big. Dust it with a fungicide such as benomyl to prevent rotting. The Cycad Palm will soon produce offshoots and make a new canopy. Offshoots can also appear near the base of the Cycad Palm.

Read: Majesty Palm Repotting: A Full Guide

Pruning Cycad Palm Pups

When Cycad Palms mature, they tend to produce pups near their trunk. You can remove these pups in late Fall or the early weeks of Spring.

Carefully dig near these pups and remove them from their base. You can also take a knife and remove them from the trunk.

If you want to create more Cycad Palms, remove the foliage surrounding the pups and let the pups dry. Then replant the pups on the soil. Soil that is sandy and well-drained is preferred.

When planting, place the pup near the soil surface. Place these pups in a shady location outdoors. You can also place them in a brightly lit area indoors for a couple of months.

Water the pups each time after the soil dries out. Feed the pups low-dosage fertilizer once the roots appear.

Transplanting the Pups

They consider transplanting them into the garden when the pups have formed a proper root system. All transplantation activity needs to be conducted with extreme care. Cycad Palm pups don’t like being disturbed.

It’s also a good idea to move new Cycad Palms in the early weeks of Spring. It’s possible to transplant mature Cycad Palm in late Fall as well.

Concluding Thoughts

The Cycad Palm is an ancient plant dating back millions of years. These plants are slow growing and easy to maintain. They can easily grow both indoors and outdoors.

Cycad Palms are prone to nutritional deficiencies and must be fertilized several times a year. Homemade, organic fertilizers are a good choice for these long-lasting evergreens.

Feeding a slow-release fertilizer works best as it provides the plant with a steady source of nutrition. You can easily make this fertilizer at home with leftover kitchen ingredients.

Fronds of the Cycad Palm can easily discolor. They can turn yellow and brown. You can prune the plant to maintain it aesthetically.

Trimming the yellowing fronds is best; snipping them will likely damage the plant. You can snip off the browned or dead fronds.

Sniping off damaged or dead fronds in winter is not a good idea. These fronds protect the plant’s trunk from the cold.

The Cycad palm also grows pups near its base. You can extract these pups and replant them if you want more of these plants.

It’s also possible to trim the Cycads Palms roots. This plant’s roots are delicate and need to be handled with care. Trimming roots is usually done in certain conditions, such as when creating bonsai. All dead roots need to be trimmed, and the plant can be planted in a smaller container.

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