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



July 24, 2014

What to do with a sago palm that has gotten too big for its pot

A friend of mine showed me this sago palm that has been in a pot for a very long time, and asked me what he should do with it. Other than saying, *give it to me*, I would say it's time to pot it up.

Sago palms grow very slowly and can stay in their original pots for a VERY long time. If you're fortunate enough to have a situation like this, There are a couple of things that I would suggest.

• Remove the pups. Those are the plants growing along side of the main plant. No, it's not really hurting the main plant, but most cycad collectors prefer to see the trunk (the caudex), especially on beautiful specimen like this one. Besides, it will give you more plants, for free! Here is how to root sago palm pups for more plants.

• Put it in a slightly larger pot, or plant it in the ground. Either way, be sure to use plenty of free-draining potting soil (the kind sold for cactus) and be sure the location is free draining. That is, if you plant it somewhere, be sure it's on a slight hill, or something like that. These plants like water, but they don't like to stand with their feet wet, as it rots the roots. Take a look at how these plants grow in the wild, they are always in hilly areas, sometimes, on the edges of cliffs!

Sago palms, like all cycads, live for hundreds of years, so you just need to consider yourself a custodian during your short life of maybe 100 years or so. And since they grow so slowly, you will really only need to repot them every fifty years or so.

Cycads at the Huntington Gardens, Los Angeles
Cycads do grow to be enormous. I recommend a visit to the Huntington Gardens if you want to see just how big. When Henry Huntington bought some of the plants there they were already over 100 years old, and they've been there now for 100 years. Looking around my yard, I realize that I will have to thin my collection in about 100 to 150 years, but right now it's fine.
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