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

September 27, 2014

Moving a sago palm bare root

A friend of mine had a sago palm that had grown too close to where people needed to walk, so he asked me if I wanted it, and how to go about removing it. And I got it today!

So, if you want to move a sago palm (cycas revoluta), here is the process.

• Cut off all of the leaves. Yes, all of them. In the process of transplanting bare root they would all die, anyway.

• Keep as much of the roots as you can. You don't need the dirt, just knock that off.

What you end up with looks like the photo. Basically the stump, and probably a few *pups*, which themselves can be grown into plants. By the way, a plant like this can stay out of the ground for a long time, so you don't need to hurry. You do need to plant it in warm weather, and never, ever, when the soil is cold.

Trimmed, pups removed
The first step for me was to soak the rootball. Luckily, it was raining when I brought it outside, and hopefully will rain some more, and there's nothing like *blessings from above*. I'm gonna let it soak overnight. Or, if I don't feel like planting tomorrow, it can stay there for several days.

Tomorrow, I will prepare the planting area with light potting soil (making sure to plant on a slope!) and gently ease the planting soil in around the roots. The idea is to make the plant think that it really hasn't moved at all. I will trim it down as neatly as I can, and remove the pups.

It's still warm here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, so there's no chance of root rot. It's probably too late in the season (it's September 27th) for it to push out a new flush this year, but it should be ready to grow by next summer!

Beginning digging the planting hole
Update - the next morning. Just found a place for it, and started digging a bit. Here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, sago palms can be planted in full sun, but they look much better with some shade. I found a spot where I had planted cannas, and have moved a few out of the way. This really does look like a perfect area, where the plants all around can *nursery* the new plant in. The cannas will give it some protection, and once it's established, the cannas can be trimmed back.

Note the rocks. Not just there for decoration, they mark where my water and electrical lines are. Still, I dig cautiously, but it looks like I'm in the clear. OK, back to digging for me!

Watering head
Don't forget that the plant will need its own dedicated watering head. Luckily for me, there was already one there, for the cannas. Just need to be sure that it's pointing in the correct direction, and functioning correctly, which it is. This is a low-pressure *drip* system, which I have fitted with sprayer heads. They are very tiny, and mostly invisible, but without them, the plants would die. This is the desert, after all!
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