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

April 25, 2011

Sago palm growing after the big freeze

My cycads are starting to show signs of life after the devastating big freeze of 2010-2011 here in Glendale. Here is a cycas revoluta (commonly called a sago palm) showing new growth. Cycads usually only flush once a year, so this is it. The fronds start growing up and out, with the leaves curled tightly in. When they achieve their final length, the leaves unfurl. You can see around this area that most of the other foliage around this cycad was wiped out. But cycads are pretty tough, be patient, they will survive. They have been surviving here on this planet since before the days of the dinosaurs!

This particular plant has been growing underneath a tree most of its life, but I cut the tree down late last year, so it is getting much more sun now. That is why it is one of my first cycads to flush, but also why the fronds will be shorter. The more shade a cycad gets, the longer its fronds will be as it reaches out for light. In brilliant sunshine, the fronds are stumpier. Sago palms will grow in full sun here in the desert, but they tend to sunburn a bit and not look as luxurious as the ones growing in a more tropical climate.

Expect your cycads to start flushing now through the summer. If you don't see any growth by this summer, don't give up. If the "pineapple" (the trunk) is still firm, the plant is still alive. It just may need another season. Cycads grow for hundreds of years, so they're not in much of a hurry!
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