This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area



July 28, 2013

Moving sago palms from Southern California to the Phoenix, Arizona area

There is no better climate in the world for cycads, such as sago palms, as Southern California. When I lived there in the 1980s, I didn't pay attention to them, but as I visit often, I am amazed at how well they do. In fact, if you just drive around South Pasadena, you will be amazed.

If, however, you are moving away from Southern California to the Phoenix, Arizona area, you may be wondering if you can bring your cycads along. Yes, you can. Sago palms do great in the Sonoran Desert, they just need a little extra care.

And the really good news is that sago palms transplant easily. They have a shallow root system, and, like bulbs, they store a lot of energy in their trunks. In fact, you can ship them with no roots, and you can leave them sitting around out of the ground for quite a while. So here is the process:

It's best to transplant in the spring. You don't need to acclimate them or anything, the weather in Southern California and Phoenix is about the same in March, April and May. Just don't do it in winter or summer. It gets HOT in Phoenix in the summer and it gets COLD in the winter!

Cut off all of the leaves. You can keep a few, just for show, but they will fall off after the transplant. Then dig up the plant. If it has more than four feet of clear trunk, you will need a couple of strong guys to help. More than that, and you will need heavy equipment. The trunk of a sago palm is heavy!

In Phoenix, Arizona, sago palms look best with some shade. I have seen them surviving out in full sun, they look pretty sad. Full shade all day long isn't necessary, but it's best if they have morning sun and afternoon shade. Plant them on a slope, just as if it were in Southern California and plant it bare root style. Here are my posts on transplanting a sago palm bare root:

http://bradstropicalparadise.blogspot.com/2013/03/transplanting-sago-palm-cycad-bare-root.html

and

http://bradstropicalparadise.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-last-step-of-transplanting-sago-palm.html

I left Southern California many years ago because I needed to find a place where I could afford to buy a house. I love the look and feel of a Mediterranean landscape, and that's why I have been trying for years to create a Tropical Paradise here in the desert. It's possible, it just takes a few tricks!
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