10 Reasons Not to Plant the Sago Palm

Updated on July 10, 2018
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Sherry has maintained homes and landscaped yards for 45 years in Southern California. She has collected water-wise succulents for 10 years.

Eleven-year-old sago palm.
Eleven-year-old sago palm.

Sago Palm: Landscape Plant You May Want to Avoid

Although I'm writing to tell you how problematic the sago plant (Cycas revoluta) is, I also include instructions on how to trim and do yearly maintenance if you already have one.

There is not anything wispy or soft about this plant. It has a thick skin of armor. Massive crowns of stiff needle-clad spears grow out from the center of a trunk that sports more needles and tough debris. The other bane of this almost ironclad plant is those little pups sprouting at the base of its trunk—if ignored, dislodging them becomes a huge chore.

The sago palm is a cycad from southern Japan that tolerates climes with no prolonged freezes. Cycads are a species of plant that go back to the Jurassic Age. I can see why cycads have survived. There are several types on the market, but the sago palm is one is the most hardy and the only one I have seen in tree-like form.

Note the pups growing at the bottom and at spots higher up. Take caution to not let them grow for too long.
Note the pups growing at the bottom and at spots higher up. Take caution to not let them grow for too long.

Should I Plant a Sago Palm?

I think you'll regret it. We have three in our yard, so I have firsthand experience.

It takes about 8 years to mature to its full size. That gives you some time to get rid of it if you decide it's too much for you. If you wait and then want to remove a mature plant, you may need a crane.

Note: If you decide to plant one anyway, I suggest you don't buy one if you can get pups from a friend or neighbor. It is one of those friendship plants, it can be shared easily.

10 Reasons Not to Plant a Sago Palm

  1. If you tend to let gardening slide, don't plant this one, or you'll be sorry because new growth can be over whelming.
  2. Every year, you must chop off the pups to avoid a tangled mess at the base of your plant. It is best to do this task when the pups first sprout at the base or along the trunk.
  3. Once a year the plant piles on a new row of leafy spines. (Sometimes this growth is called a "flush.") Old spears should be cut off every year.
  4. Think of it as a tree, not a flower bed plant. It will get bigger and bigger.
  5. Everything on this plant is needle sharp and dangerous.
  6. Its debris is too tough for the recycle bin. Our city will not take it for recycling.
  7. You must wear safety glasses and protective clothing for big trimming jobs.
  8. The female plant blooms over the entire crown and produces red seeds the size of hominy, all set in a bed of thorns.
  9. If the plant is no longer good for your landscape design there will be a problem getting rid of it. Generally, landscapers no longer desire mature specimens as stock.
  10. Sago palms are a favorite food of indigenous islanders in Indonesia, but the detox process is very lengthy and the plant is very toxic without it. Dogs and other pets will get sick if they chew on seeds, bark or other parts of the plant.

Time for a trim.
Time for a trim.

How to Take Care of a Sago Palm That Hasn't Been Maintained?

This page is for everyone that has neglected or does not have a clue about sago palm care and maintenance.

For about 10 years our sago remained an overgrown mess and I could not find any trimming advice on the Internet. The tree was neglected for a number of years and now it has trunks or three crowns on the top and numerous sprouts at the bottom.

The Internet does inform me that some plants will grow multi crowns. Usually, it is a male that will branch off. But the internet does not say specifically what to do when growth is out of hand. So I'm going to start cutting. I"m going to begin by cutting the leaves as close to the truck as possible. See photos below.

Step-by-Step Sago Palm Trimming Tutorial

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Use a long-handled branch trimmer. Start cutting off the spears from underneath the spears at the bottom. Work around and toward the center, leaving one row of spears at the crown.This sago has three crowns. The center crown got a complete trimming.  I left a row of spears on the other crowns. Notice that two rows of leaves were cut from each branch.All the crowns look like this in the center. There is barely enough room for a new batch of leaves to emerge. The curly new leaves grow from the center of the hairy cone.All the leaves were trimmed from the top.This dried, long, thick structure is what makes this particular plant a male. No seeds on this plant.
Use a long-handled branch trimmer. Start cutting off the spears from underneath the spears at the bottom. Work around and toward the center, leaving one row of spears at the crown.
Use a long-handled branch trimmer. Start cutting off the spears from underneath the spears at the bottom. Work around and toward the center, leaving one row of spears at the crown.
This sago has three crowns. The center crown got a complete trimming.  I left a row of spears on the other crowns. Notice that two rows of leaves were cut from each branch.
This sago has three crowns. The center crown got a complete trimming. I left a row of spears on the other crowns. Notice that two rows of leaves were cut from each branch.
All the crowns look like this in the center. There is barely enough room for a new batch of leaves to emerge. The curly new leaves grow from the center of the hairy cone.
All the crowns look like this in the center. There is barely enough room for a new batch of leaves to emerge. The curly new leaves grow from the center of the hairy cone.
All the leaves were trimmed from the top.
All the leaves were trimmed from the top.
This dried, long, thick structure is what makes this particular plant a male. No seeds on this plant.
This dried, long, thick structure is what makes this particular plant a male. No seeds on this plant.
Male crown of the sago palm: This is growing on the crown a few weeks after the branch cutting I did above.
Male crown of the sago palm: This is growing on the crown a few weeks after the branch cutting I did above.

The Difference Between Male and Female Sago

The biggest difference between the male and female is the growing habits.

The male: When it is big enough, the male will start to branch out or grow new crowns. It took a good fifteen years for me to see that fact. In fact, I was clueless about the difference for decades. Once your male plant is established and has a thick two to three foot trunk, you will see the branching effect.

The female: This plant will continue to grow and flush at the center, getting taller each year. If you are considering a queen sago for the yard, remember to think of it as a tree. Sagos are not little ornamental flower bed candidates.

Both males and females produce the pups.

Female Sago Palm with Seeds
Female Sago Palm with Seeds

Female Sago Palm

Let the next year's crop of leaves push the seeds under. No need to clean them out like I did the first year this happened.

My mother has watched birds eat and break open the seeds on this plant near her front window, but I would advise keeping animals and children away. The inside layer of the seed may be toxic.

New seed crown on a mature female.
New seed crown on a mature female.

More About Sago Palms

  • Despite its difficult care, it is the most popular cycad of botanical gardens and of nursery stock being sold.
  • The plants grow slowly and that is probably why a 5 gallon specimen may seem a bit expensive at the nursery. The price is not because it is hard to grow, but because the nurserymen had to water it for more than 3 or 4 years.
  • In the 1980s, this plant started highlighting landscapes all over Southern California. From the street, they give a yard lots of visual impact and go well with other palms and tropical plants.
  • We decided to get one to block the line of view of the neighborhood mail box and our front window. Ours was planted in 1984. It was only two feet tall, with one row of spears. Our neighbor planted a bigger one in their front yard. The next year, their plant disappeared. People steal them in the middle of the night because they're so popular and expensive.

Trimming Pups from Sago Palm

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This photo shows the white scars of pup removal and some remaining pups. I take a trenching shovel and lodge it into the base of the pup. I use leverage outward with the long handle and the pup pops off.Here is a pup removed. The plant material is moist and crisp, allowing easy removal.This is the pile of sprouts I removed.Here is the big plant trimmed of all extra pups.
This photo shows the white scars of pup removal and some remaining pups. I take a trenching shovel and lodge it into the base of the pup. I use leverage outward with the long handle and the pup pops off.
This photo shows the white scars of pup removal and some remaining pups. I take a trenching shovel and lodge it into the base of the pup. I use leverage outward with the long handle and the pup pops off.
Here is a pup removed. The plant material is moist and crisp, allowing easy removal.
Here is a pup removed. The plant material is moist and crisp, allowing easy removal.
This is the pile of sprouts I removed.
This is the pile of sprouts I removed.
Here is the big plant trimmed of all extra pups.
Here is the big plant trimmed of all extra pups.
This plant was grown from a pup. It has not been sexed as of 2015. I hope it is a male.
This plant was grown from a pup. It has not been sexed as of 2015. I hope it is a male.

How to Plant Sago Pups

Rooted pups are very popular at yard and garage sales, but it is impossible to tell which is female or male. It takes 5-7 years for pups to mature and reveal their sex.

After I removed all the pups, I put them in the bin, but the next day someone had moved them all Why? Of course, I know why. My husband stuck them into the ground hoping to get new plants started, but he was doing it all wrong. Here's how you do it:

  1. The moist ends need to be dried first.
  2. Bury your new hopefuls only two inches. Leave the prickly spines exposed.
  3. Water them often until they take root.

Do You Have Sago Palms

Do You Like Your Sago Palm?

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Huge female sago palm.
Huge female sago palm.
Compressed seed head of sago palm.
Compressed seed head of sago palm.
Male sago with pups removed. Only one row of spears remain on each trunk.
Male sago with pups removed. Only one row of spears remain on each trunk.

I Trim Every Year

The practice of trimming the sago is controversial in plant circles. My plant has spent many years between trimmings. It is only in the last few years that there is time to trim to my liking. New flushes of leaves sprout every year and I believe I will be able to enjoy my sago trimmed and kept slim.

This plant has not been fertilized. It is near a lawn and that is enough water for this plant in southern California's dry climate.

Readers' Comments (and Author's Answers)

"I am a gardener in the tropics and love the challenges from all plants, bring it on!" —Art

"We have three established sagos. I spent about an hour on a female which is easier of control. It is looking very stately. The male plant is overgrown again." —Sherry Venegas (author)

"I love sago palms! They are beautiful and stately to look at. Yes, they do have sharp spines all over their trunks, but these are very easy to avoid. Yes, they are poisonous, but the thought of a dog trying to eat a spiny Sago trunk just doesn't seem very plausible. By the way, sagos are actually edible and are the main staple in the diet of many pacific islanders. The pulp of the tree must be processed in such a way as to remove the toxins. Oh, and as to the prolific pups, that is my favorite part about sagos. The pups are so easy to harvest and cultivate. I have about a hundred or so I'm taking care of and it's so exciting to watch them sprout. It's like Christmas or something. I'm taking care of the pups until they get bigger, but I'm not sure what to do with them once they grow up. I might send them off to college." —Joseph Boggs

"Give your sago spouts as gifts!" —Sherry Venegas (author)

"Our local TV station reported that this entire plant is poisonous; nurseries do not warn potential buyers of this information..." —Joyce Spanos

"I know sagos are poisonous, but most breeds of dogs stay away. Our cocker spaniels , a beagle, and two Jack Russels lived their whole lives with the sagos in the backyard. But when in doubt, rip it out, is the best policy." —Sherry Venegas (author)

"We live in southern Texas and love our Sago plant! Actually hoping to plant a few more around our yard! :))" —Paula

"We just removed 5 sago palms from our backyard after I saw on local tv that they are deadly poison to animals. I love my dogs! Those palms had to go." —Brenda Vickery

"Your article is dead on. Palms should be grown on tropical islands. Excellent!" —Judy Specht from California

"I have never grown them. I don't even know if they grow where I live. But from the sounds of things, they are not a "people-friendly" plant and it would not work for me. They are beautiful plants, though." —June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

"Great read, Sherry. My house was built in the 50s and when I bought it 3 years ago, there was a big sago palm just like yours in the front yard. Beautiful plant. It wasn't maintained since I bought it so it's getting out of control. It has multiple heads like the one in your photos and also 2-3 flowers with a crown (is that normal?). I managed to trim the outside part, but the interiors are a bit trickier to get to. When would you recommend doing the trimming? I live in the Central Valley (CA) it does frost for a good amount of the winter." —Randy the Noob

"Randy, by interior I thinking that you have leaves criss-crossing each other in the areas of the branching trucks. I would get in there with the long handled clippers and snip off all but the top newest row. Or if you want clip it clean, except for your high branch. One if the pictures I show how I did that one year. We do not get frost that often, so I would take precautions and wait till frost is past for the winter. The frost could burn and dry up the sago palm at the tip of the branches if it does not have these tall hard leaves protecting it. The male does get a cone shaped crown once a year that elongates as it matures over a few months." —Sherry Venegas (author)

"I had my landscaper move 4 of these from my backyard to the front yard. Considering Southern CA has had 1 of the worst droughts ever over the past 7 years (& I stopped watering long ago), these trees have surprisingly survived when other palm species have died off & I needed to have others removed altogether. I have 1 male that I'm aware of & I cut off the crown. I thought it was going to die after that, but it survived. I personally think they look great in my front yard. Yes, they're prickly and I've gotten stung by them on a few occasions, but I'm going all succulent combined with existing palms in the front yard since all the other vegetation died off. I just put them on a drip irrigation system - hopefully they don't grow too large." —Ben

"In the long haul if you are using less water the better for your pocket. If you have a natural sink in your yard a tree for shade, could be considered in the future, because this drought cycle will end sometime. We did water our sorry looking lawn a little and the birch in our sink faired okay. The already established birch is in front of a bay window and it is nice in the summer to have the filtered sun playing in the living room." —Sherry Venegas (author)

"One of the main reasons that you might not want this plant is that it can be very toxic (for anyone who decided to eat it: dogs, kids etc). It can kill if digested." —Gulia

"They take several years to grow large and flower. It is an easy investment as the plant is very low maintenance. Trimming is a pain and I get an alergic reaction from it. It is a neat plant and when grown very large you will be the envy of your block! As stated above, do not plant if it will be near pets or children. Other than that, it's fine." —Roldan

"Sagos require a Love/Hate relationship! They are incredibly beautiful and reign supreme in Houston, but can be vicious if you are not fully armored to deal with them. Here, they are low maintenance as compared to annuals and pups are plentiful, so share them :)"—BetsyofTexas

"I cut all the branches off of my male sage palm, probably a mistake. what I thought was a new thrush of branches. Is actually 4 cones growing. How quickly will the new branches grow back after the cones die off? I'm also in so cal." —Nate

"Nate, You should be seeing new trushes in six months, maybe sooner. Leave the cones on till they are dried, then break them off. You should be enjoying a clean plant till the beginning of next year. Watch the pups, though." —Sherry Venegas (author)

"We do not have them in our yard but many of our neighbors do. After reading this, I am not tempted to grow it. Will just continue to admire our neighbor's sago palms."—Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas

"Should you remove the gold crown from the top of the male. It seems like it has stopped the growth!" —Art

"Art, I would leave it for awhile. It should not interfere with the growth. Be sure to read the other Q&As in this column for more info." —Sherry Venegas (author)

"I just discovered I have a male plant. The cone shape in the center is pretty tall. When do I cut this or do I cut this off. And if it's OK to remove will it have seeds too?" —anonymous

"You can leave it as long as you want. It is an ornament, so to speak. Let it dry up on the plant. No seeds in it. Since you have a male you will see branching after the trunk gets 3 or 4 feet high. Have fun with your sago palm."—Sherry Venegas (author)

"If they would just top out at about 2 feet tall, they would be awesome!!!! They do need a lot of TLC but if you love gardening, the pruning isn't as bad as portrayed. With the right placement, they do give a great tropical appeal to any landscape." —anonymous

Male sago palm in spring bloom. Some years will look more spectacular than others.
Male sago palm in spring bloom. Some years will look more spectacular than others.

Questions & Answers

  • I have a sago palm that has been trimmed but has divided into two plants at the top. If I were to cut it off below the "y," would it take off with one branch or would it die?

    With the branching you describe here, it is likely you have a male sago palm. The branching effect can be very attractive in a landscape situation. If your cut is below the "y," you will probably get a ton of pups around the trunk. It will not die. If you do not want the sago palm any longer, you need to sever and then dig out the roots under and below the ground.

  • My sago palm has two crown heads, and they are about to cone, but there isn't a leaf-spine on either one. I cut them off after the cold because the leaves were brown from the cold but have not grown back. Should I be worried? The other sago palm I have has leaf spines already. I know it's not dead because it's ready to cone. I wanted to get rid of it until I noticed the cones coming out. Will the leaves come back?

    The plant's energy is invested in the cones. My sago in Southern California has not flushed which seems late in the season. I would sit tight. Rain, sun, and heat will impact the plant differently every year.

  • Our sago palm is at least 25 years old, and about eight feet tall. I dug a flower garden at its base and removed 95% of the pups to a depth of about six inches. I then covered it with a black plastic cloth to prevent weeds and put down topsoil and bark chips. I am now getting overrun with new pups that have broken through to the top. How do I get rid of these things?

    They will just keep coming; they will grow all over the trunk and around the base. The easiest way to control pups is to check your sago palm every month and break the pups off with the tip of a trenching shovel or a hori-hori knife.

  • I live in the Florida Panhandle. My pot planted Sago had a white scale. I took off all the fronds and was going to trash the entire palm. New fronds have started to sprout. Can this be planted in the ground? If so, should I keep the old root ball, or should the entire palm be trashed?

    I would give it a try in the ground in a sunny, dry place with the root ball. If it does not survive, then trash it.

© 2012 Sherry Venegas

What Do You Think About the Sago Palm?

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    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      9 days ago from La Verne, CA

      Gary, thank you for your sago plam story. It is good to hear that the garage/patio sago can live and survive for so many years.

    • profile image

      Gary Allen 

      10 days ago

      I live in SE Missouri....they wont stand the winter here....so I garage them when frost ( hard frost) start. This year I had to keep them in til April. ( unusual for here ) BUT I have had my Sago in SE Missouri for 15 years.....its almost 6 ft tall in a huge pot.....I have to use a 2 wheeler to roll it out to the patio.....Most folks have no idea what it is or why I kept it so long. Just love palms I guess.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      2 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Thanks for your experience on digging up a mature sago palm. Here in the U.S. nurseries do not want full grown sago palms. The plant is too readily available. Your experience is why I offer advice on not planting a sago. It is a life long decision and a permanent one.

    • profile image

      PS 

      2 months ago

      Hi, I'm from Australia. I've just recently helped a home owner remove a 1-1.5m tall 10yr old cycad sago palm. It took 3hrs to remove the smaller one by digging around the root base 15-20cm away from the trunk using a mattock. I removed pups as I went along & there were pups under the soil as well. Overall I got about 35-40 pups for $100 each mature plant that are worth $400-$500 on the market. The owner wanted them out & he tried a chainsaw which the fibres got caught up in it & not an effective tool. However I owned a sawzal/reciprocating saw & this is much more effective giving a sawing action as on the bigger male plant I had to cut away the larger pups as I could not pry them off with a large metal bar. I have only replanted the mature two plants in large pots I could afford to buy measuring 50cm across minimum & up to 60cm high because of the root base. The roots go down at least 30-40cm I rocked it side to side to loosen it free after digging & it took two of us men to drag & then lift 50kg+ into my truck. I've seen a 5-6ft high specimen on sale for $800-$900. I would not recommend planting in the ground as I told the owners I don't think I'd ever dig out another because of the effort but I got value for my $. Where most pups sprout from the base trunk I had to also saw off the roots from the sides at soil level to fit well into my pots & the plant is currently recovering as we're going into Winter soon.

    • profile image

      Richard 

      3 months ago

      Hi Sherry, I just bought a beach front house in Puerto Rico and I am planning to plant few palm trees. I went to Home Depot and they have 20” Sago Palms. I am thinking about buying few of them to plant them around my house and between my house and the swimming pool with sea water, I am planning to build. I have few questions you may be able to answer. First, the palm will be splashed occasionally by sea water from the ocean and the pool. Will sea water affect or damage the palm? Second, I would like to limit the growth of the palm to 5-6 feet. Will keeping tree in the small pot limit palm growth? If yes, what would be the maximum size of the pot to limit height to 5 feet? What would be the diameter of the palm with branches at that height? Will the fully grown tree at 5 to 6 feet tall look like the one you show on your Eleven-year-old sago palm picture? I will do all necessary maintenance needed to keep this look. Third, how deep the roots of the fully grown palm tree reach? Forth, could planting a palm tree not far from a septic tank damage or affect a palm tree? Have a great day, Richard

    • profile image

      Bobby Jaba 

      3 months ago

      I just what to reiterate what you and several readers have commented on regarding the toxicity of the sago palm. It is one of the MOST poisonous plants to mammals. All portions of the plant are toxic, but especially the seeds.

      A good friend had two of his lab puppies (6mo old) eat portions of the plant. One survived, but one died after a long, expensive hospital stay. It causes rapid liver failure.

      Before buying our puppy, we knew of the dangers from our friend's tragic experience, but we felt safe knowing that we had no sago palms in our yard. Unfortunately that was a false sense of security. One day we found our puppy chewing on a sago seed in our backyard. An emergent vet visit, 3 days in the hospital, a $2000 bill, and the heartbreak of not knowing whether our little pup would survive was all very painful. Luckily she pulled through with no apparent lasting liver damage. But had we not recognized the seriousness of the situation, she would surely be dead.

      Since then, we have found dozens of the seeds in our yard, apparently dropped by squirrels. Our dog can not be left alone in our backyard, even though it is fenced.

      So please, consider another plant. Even if you don't have pets, your plants seeds may make it to neighbor's yard that does and their pets could die.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      3 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Hi Jeanette, I leave them on the tree and let the next years new flush of leaves push them down. Once they are dried I knock them off and throw them away. If you have a curious pet who likes to chew on plants throw them away as soon as the pet can access them.

    • profile image

      Jeanette Oliver 

      3 months ago

      Hello. I learned so much from reading about Sago Palms. What should I do with the red seeds that go on my Sago Palms?

    • profile image

      Terri 

      3 months ago

      I have reason #11 “Why not plant a Sago Palm”. I feel this should be the #1 most important reason. They are highly poisonous to Dogs and Cats. My poor puppy has been at the Vet ER hanging on to her life because she bit open a Sago Palm seed. This poisonous plant causes liver damage and sometimes liver failure in animals. The do not have to ingest much. I wish Sago Palms had a warning label so pet owners would not EVER plant these!!

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      4 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      Ol' Will 

      4 months ago

      My understanding is that the pups are clones of the parent plant, so should be the same sex. If the new plant comes from a sprouted seed, its sex cannot be determined until it is revealed at maturity.

    • profile image

      jackie mcgovern 

      4 months ago

      I just bought seeds to grow sago palms. I also lived in San Diego through the worst drought times in the last ten years. Well long story short I am now in Las Vegas and before reading your story I was very concerned about the survival of my sagas. Now as Im lmao I may reconsider the 5 I was planning and try just 2. Thanks for the insight.

    • profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      4 months ago

      James, Your older plant may need repotting. Try that for spring, right now, and see of you get a new flush of leaves on the main trunk. Put it in full sun and water sparingly.

    • profile image

      James Currie 

      4 months ago

      I've got two potted sagos, one for about 15 years, the other for about 8 years and seven boston terriers who have never gone near them. The 8 year old is gorgeous with 3-4 foot fronds while the 15 year old seems geriatric with a few fronds growing out of the dirt surrounding the trunk and did not bloom last year. I only trim the old fronds when they have yellowed - am I screwing up?

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      5 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Maria, thank you for the advice on potted sago plant care for summer and cold winter. The spears looks so delicate when new.

    • profile image

      Maria 

      5 months ago

      I enjoy my sago as a house plant. I received it as a potted plant when it was quite small. I place it on my deck in the summer and bring it into the house in the fall, because it gets quite cold here in NV in the winter. Every Spring I cut off the lower branches and enjoy the new fronds popping up from the center. I always wear thick garden gloves when I handle this plant. Last fall it needed a bigger pot - it's now 2 ft tall and very attractive and decorative as a house plant.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      5 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Frank, did you see the comment I posted yesterday? The spears I would cut off, so any energy that is left can center in the core where new leaves will energize. You may consider digging up and bringing inside. Place where there is lots of sun.

    • profile image

      Frank Matthews 

      5 months ago

      Myrtle Beach South Carolina:

      Due to the continued nights of frozen temperatures over the last several weeks ,the spears on the entire Sago Palm are brown and appear dead. Should I cut and trim the entire Palm now, or wait until the warmer weather returns ? Please Advise..

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      5 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Myrtle Beach, Oregon? I live where it does not freeze for more than one night a year. I would give it ground protection, such as, mulch or wood chips. No water unless it is 45 degrees or more for a few days. If the spears are dead cut them off and cover the trunk with duck cloth at night when it is going to freeze. Uncover for sun during the day. See what happens this spring. If you are lucky, you will see a new flush of leaves when the weather gets sunny and warm.

    • profile image

      Frank Matthews 

      5 months ago

      I planted a lush green Sago Palm in my front yard last Spring in Myrtle Beach. Over the past several weeks the night time temperatures have dropped below freezing and it now appears that my Sago Palm has died since the entire Palm has turned brown or gold in color.. What should I do ? Please advise.

    • profile image

      Mike 

      6 months ago

      They are easy to maintain. Had one for 15 years. Cut the leaves every year since frost always kills them. Takes 10 minutes to slowly and carefully cut, throw in a trash can and walk 100 foot to the burn pile. If you think that's work, takes a half to push mow areas of the yard the riding mower can't get to and that's much more than once a year. Don't ever plant Bamboo! Neighbor did ten years before I moved here and it takes hours of cutting every spring/summer. It's even made it under the road over 200 foot away.

    • profile image

      Potgardening 

      6 months ago

      Thank you. So glad to find this writeup. The Japanese seem to like this sago palm. In Okinawa I see them everywhere.

      When the Japanese Emperor visited Singapore, this was the plant he gifted.

      They are easily infested by the cycad blue butterfly.

    • profile image

      Jackie sullivan 

      9 months ago

      I have six sago palms that I want removed I’m looking for someone should wants them and remove them from my yard and repair my yard in exchange for the palms

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      10 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Big job, Helen. With the root system established I do not think you will not have to worry about killing it. I would go for good spacing between each tallest tree. Leave seven or eight this year. Next year before spring, after studying it all year, maybe crop more. Be attentive of the pups that will sprout even from the stump here in the front. Snap them off with a trenching shovel. Where do you live? If you get 10 or more inches of rain a year try not watering at all.

      This will look very decorative with a little work.

    • profile image

      mammakorb 

      10 months ago

      here's my progress - any advice greatly appreciated - hopefully links to my pictures copy in ok.

      https://tikiisland.shutterfly.com/pictures

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      10 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Jerry, I know you are keep busy with that many. I have never seen 32 sagos growing in one yard.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      10 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Wow! It sounds like a major undertaking with your newly acquired plant. I have cut off pups as big as four inches. I am of the opinion that removing all of them would not harm the original plant. Make sure the cut areas dry out nicely before soaking or letting them get wet for a long time. I have seen sagos with one or a few pups remaining at the bottom to add fullness and interest to the bottom of a larger specimen. That would be up to you. The more you leave on, the more to take care of later.

    • profile image

      mammakorb 

      10 months ago

      I have started trimming (hacking away at more like) a Sago that probably hasn't been trimmed in 10+ years at a house we just bought. My gardener started with a chain saw around the bottom and edges and now I've got clipers and heavy gloves pulling out dead crossed branches. I can see how the final result will be stunning with all the now adult pups. Can i cut some of them completely off at this point without harming the collective? I don't know how to upload picture otherwise i would.

    • profile image

      Jerry Wallace 

      10 months ago

      We have 32 sagos in our front yard. They are a pain to maintain .....we LOVE the plant.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      10 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Josie, plant nurseries no longer want sagos as mature specimens for landscape design because there are too many available. Let us know if you find a solution for your unwanted sago palms.

    • profile image

      josie 

      10 months ago

      i have 2 male sago palms and i wish i could get rid of them.They are about 6ft. tall.

    • profile image

      cotton 

      10 months ago

      They said it wouldn't grow in upstate S.C. but i have had ten years and i am 20 miles from Hogback Mountain. It grows on the south side of the house.

    • profile image

      Kit 

      10 months ago

      We have a dozen or so in our yard. We love them!

    • profile image

      Mark M 

      11 months ago

      My German Shepherd is at our local Florida Animal Hospital on an IV. They did blood work and X-rays, and their diagnosis was she somehow ingested Sago seeds which are poisonous to dogs. They were surprised because most dogs know to stay away from them.

    • profile image

      Jeff Sheldon 

      11 months ago

      Holy crap, you folks sound as if the sago palm is a creature lurking in the dark, ready to eat you.

      Cycas Revoluta, or sago palm is, in my mind one of the most striking and easy to grow members of the plant world. It is also one of the few plants to weather the ice age. I have been growing sagos in both southern California and high in the Sierra Nevada since the early seventies when my Dad and I imported seeds from Japan and germinated them in the San Fernando Valley. At that time they were a rarity.

      The sago's slow, ferny, statuesque, yet robust growth is the beauty of the plant. Paired with other dangerous plants, such as cacti, they provide a beautiful rock garden scene.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      12 months ago from La Verne, CA

      I agree that children should not play near this plant, as well as pets. The leaves and old wood is just too sharp for uncovered skin or hands. All parents should be made aware if you have a plant in your yard. This is an unfortunate story. Poor young guy. I bet that was no fun for him. I am going to add this as a extra caution.

    • profile image

      Char 

      12 months ago

      I think they are dangerous. My son was about 7 or 8 playing outside at a friends house. They had a very large sago palm near where they were playing and my son must have brushed against the tree. the very sharp tip went into his hand between his thumb and index finger and didnt know it just that it hurt. Long story short it got infected went to his pediatrician he drained it, continued to hurt and a friend who is a plastic surgeon numbed it up several times and started looking for whatever was in there. After 15 mins of "digging" with his tool he finally touched something even deeper than where he was. He ended up pulling out the tip of the sago palm which embedded itself in his hand. The tip was about a half inch long. The Dr couldn't believe it was in there about 2 was. I would not have one where children will play

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      12 months ago from La Verne, CA

      I would discourage that habit because there may not be poison but needle sharp objects are not good.

    • profile image

      art 

      12 months ago

      I have three sago palms and our pup has chewed most of their leaves. She is still rumbustious and curious as pups are. Not posioned so she must be part Indonesian? Hum?

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      13 months ago from La Verne, CA

      The brown cones are probably from lack of water, but as this year's golden ones show there is no hurt to the plant. The flush of the new fronds was thin this spring.

    • profile image

      Patricia, S.D. County 

      13 months ago

      I have both males & females. They flower every year faithfully. Previously, the males would sprout long skinny brown curved & low hanging cones. But after our drought breaking rains, I am finally getting the beautiful golden upright cones. I am thrilled! My gardener keeps them trimmed & the pups pruned. We have lived in this house since 2001 & they were already here. We have five in the backyard & two in the front. Had to remove the female beside the driveway because she was scratching up the cars. I love them, especially with these beautiful golden cones. Were those scrawny brown ones healthy?

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      16 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Do not give up on it. Give the plant water once a week if you are not getting this year's rain in your area. In spring it may sprout a new flush of leaves. Usually one flush is produced in the spring. I have dug up dead looking pups and found good roots on the underside.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      16 months ago from La Verne, CA

      The Sago is very widely available now and most tree removal companies prefer tall palms and the more exotic cycads. We always sell out of the small foot high sagos we start from pups at yard sales. We let them go for $10-$25, but ridding a year of a heavy weight sago is not something I have dealt with.

    • profile image

      Ken1000 

      16 months ago

      Im thinking of getting rid of mine. Are they worth anything?

    • profile image

      Glenn 

      17 months ago

      We put a miniature sago out in front yardcabout 5 months ago here in So. Cal. It wasnt the greenest plant but the only one we could find. Now all of the sago frawns are 100% brown. Looks dead but its not brittle to break off ? Is it too young to trim? Maybe I got one that was diseased?

    • profile image

      Nick 

      17 months ago

      Clueless. They don't take eight years to mature they take at least 50. And you were so wrong about them being hard to care for. easiest plant on earth to care for because you don't have to do anything

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 

      4 years ago from Orange County, California

      I don't have this type of palm, but I am glad you wrote this article so that I am not tempted to buy one! Thanks for the info.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      4 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @julieannbrady: First ask him why and second ask if he is going to move them.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      4 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @myneverboredhands: It is only poisonous if ingested. The three dogs we have had never became, in any way, interested in it to chew the parts. Even the seeds that can dislodge and fall on the ground have been ignored. Now some babies will naturally bring almost everything to their mouth, that would be alarming.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 

      4 years ago

      Well, guess what? I was talking with Nelson over at the gym where I work out daily. It seems he has a female and male sago palm that he was wanting to "give" away. I mentioned my big back yard. Now, I am not so sure I want to take them! Excellent resource my dear.

    • myneverboredhands profile image

      myneverboredhands 

      5 years ago

      I just recently bought one for our apartment.. I saw it in the store and it looked so cute and rare (in fact I never saw the other one before in our area)..But after I got home and did research on it, I wasn't very pleased with search results: each inch of the plant is poisonous! and not only for animals for people as well:(

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 

      6 years ago

      Our next door neighbor has one of these, but it's still fairly small. I didn't know they were poisonous. Palms are pretty to look at, but high maintenance. My husband and I have both been to the emergency room to have toothpick-sized date palm tines removed from hands and feet. Ouch!

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 

      6 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      These plants sound like they would make good natural protection when located close to the house, like the first floor windows. But they sure do sound like a lot of work.

    • profile image

      KKBOOKSTORE 

      6 years ago

      i have a few and yes they are big but if you keep them up they look great. You could also sell the big ones and keep the pups incase your n a bind

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @recipebox: You should be fine, if you do not ignore it. Don't let those pups on the bottom take over.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 

      6 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Very interesting story...it reminds me of a Yucca that grows similarly. If you had a very large property, it might be good planted away from the house. I removed one that was next to my house because I was tired of getting stuck.

    • profile image

      recipebox 

      6 years ago

      I have a sago plant from the time I bought my house so far it is still young and not creating any problems I guess it will take a very long time for it to grow big and cause problems. Till then it just looks great in my garden.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Beautiful plants! I always wanted one when I lived in Texas. I had no idea how much work they were! Thanks for the sharing!

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 

      6 years ago

      I grow my sago palm in a big flower pot, so it doesn't really give me much trouble.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @ohcaroline: You can keep it as bonsai, but I have not tried it. All my tempts at bonsai were not successful.

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 

      6 years ago

      I had a few Sago Palms when I lived in Florida.....what a learning experience. When we first moved there, I decided to transplant two of them.... first I dug and dug and dug.... not to mention the cuts on my arms from those razor sharp (leaves).....Every year I had to cut them back and while doing so would silently wish that nature would take them from me so I wouldn't have to maintain them anymore. They are quite attractive though....

    • MillBucks profile image

      MillBucks 

      6 years ago

      We have about 15 Sago's planted throughout our yard and we just love them, of course they do require work to maintain but the results are worth it.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @CruiseReady: haha

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @Grasmere Sue: Cheap skates. They want instant gratification of the bigger plant without watering it and tending it lovingly. If they ask for a pup from this plant I would give them 10!

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