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

September 2, 2016

How to tell if your cycad is about to flush

If you're new to the world of cycads, you may not be familiar with how exciting it is to see a cycad flush. A flush, by the way, is when the leaves of cycad suddenly start growing. And cycads only do this once a year (rarely twice and very rarely more). That is, for eleven months of the year, they just sit there. Then in summer (which in the Phoenix area is from April to September), they flush.

So every day in the heat of the summer I wander around my garden and look at the middle of my cycads. Most of the time the center is tight - but when they start to spread out and you can start to see something, well, it's pretty darned exciting. A flush is beginning! Once it starts, it will change, dramatically, every day until the new leaves have finished growing. By the way, don't touch them! The new leaves are soft, and if they get damaged while in that state, they will stay damaged when they harden off. So leave them alone! Stop throwing that football around! I have a flushing cycad!

In the photo at the top of this post you can see one of my dioon spinulosums getting ready to flush. It's September 2, and looks like it's gonna be the last cycad here to flush this season. So, needless to say, I've been watching it very carefully. It's the first thing I go looking for in the morning.

Of course, most people have never even heard of cycads, and won't have any idea why you're so excited about a cycad flush (I guess it sounds like a Royal Flush?). But once you've lived with cycads for a few seasons, it will become The Event of the Summer. You'll be out there, wondering if you're seeing something? Are the leaves in the center spreading? Is the 'pucker' in the center getting bigger? No, it's my imagination - no wait, yes! A flush is starting!"

Cycad dioon spinulosum flushing September 6th
Once you learn to see them in your garden, you'll see them everywhere. You'll walk past a flushing sago palm at the entrance to the mall, you'll be marveling at an awesome flush at an apartment complex, at the zoo, everywhere in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, and anywhere with a warm climate. They're really quite amazing, and beautiful. And if you can see them, you've made your world just a little bit more beautiful, and exciting.

Cycad dioon spinulosum beginning to flush September 2nd

Cycad dioon spinulosum flushing September 4th
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