Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With wiener dogs.

April 7, 2011

How to move your sago palm

Moving, or transplanting, a sago palm (cycas revoluta), or any cycad, is surprisingly easy. Cycads transplant readily, and late spring is the best time to do it. Winter is a bad time because the roots aren't actively growing in the cold, and summer is a bad time because the heat is bad for both the plant and you! So, now is the time!

The first thing that you do is to cut off all of the leaves. Yes, yikes! But it's better for the plant, and makes it much easier to manage. If you transplant it correctly, the leaves will all grow back, usually the same year, but it may take a season. In the meantime, you will be looking at a stump, which is sad, but it will grow!

Plant your cycad on a slight slope, which allows water to drain quickly. Mix in a lot of volcanic pumice. If you can't do that, at least use a nice potting soil mixture designed for cactus. Be sure to allow plenty of room for the plant to grow and for the leaves to spread out - not too close to walkways! A good rule of thumb is to allow five feet from where people will be walking.

Cycads can be very, very heavy. Here is how you know - if the trunk is in the shape of a pineapple, it's OK for one person to handle, when it actually gets to be a trunk, it will need heavy machinery to move. Somewhere in between, you can move it with a few strong guys.

Throw some slow-release fertilizer into the planting hole and water the plant in well. You can water it occasionally, but not so much that the roots rot. When you start to see the first flush, water it generously.

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