Dating back to the dinosaur era, King Sagos are one of the oldest plants on the planet. Although they are commonly known as King Sago Palms (because they look like miniature palms) they technically belong to the cycad family.
Why Choose a Sago Palm?
If you’ve ever dreamed of creating a tropical paradise in your own backyard but feel your conditions are too cold, then meet King Sago Palm. The cold-hardy cycad is hardy growing in hardiness zones 7b through 11. It requires coverage with a burlap or sheet for protection when temperatures get below 20° in order to protect the leaves from turning brown, even though it is hardy to 15°.
King Sago Palms sport their own unique but attractive looks, adding a touch of rich green no matter the season. The slow-grower produces a single, shaggy, upright trunk that can take a few years to really show itself. As it matures, pups form around the mother plant resulting in the formation of multiple trunks.
Adding to its beauty, glossy green feathery fronds form around the trunk that have an arching habit and grow anywhere from 3 to 7 feet long, depending on the sago’s age and where it is planted.
King Sago Palms are male or female, with males producing an upright center yellow cone filled with pollen. When fertilized, female sago’s produce a seed-filled center cone containing a wealth of red seeds. The entire plant is toxic to animals, mostly in the seeds.
The tropical palm-like cycad makes an eye-catching specimen, accent plant, used along a border or highlighting an entryway. It also grows well in containers or as a houseplant.
Is the King Sago Palm Cold-Hardy in My Area?
Compared to many other tropical plants and palms, King Sago Palms are cold-hardy, surviving temperatures around 15°F. It grows well planted outdoors in hardiness zones 7b through 11.
When temperatures start getting too cold it’s best to offer your King Sago Palm some protection. Water the planting site the day before freezing temperatures is expected, saturating the root system. This helps insulate the roots keeping them warm. You can also insulate the roots by adding a thick layer of mulch around the sago.
Additionally, their smaller size makes them manageable so you can even cover the cycad with a sheet or burlap. This is extremely important, otherwise the fronds will turn brown from the cooler winds.
How Big Does a King Sago Palm Get?
You won’t have to worry about your King Sago Palm outgrowing its space quickly as it grows at a very slow pace. Although you will typically see Sagos around 3 feet tall, they can grow to 15 feet tall, especially in hotter climates, although it takes about 50 years for them to do so. They average around 3-5 feet wide, with male plants usually grow wider than females.
How Much Sun Does It Require?
King Sago Palms thrive in a range of light conditions from full sun to partial shade. However, don’t grow in full shade or the plant has a tendency to become leggy.
What About Soil and Water?
The cycad grows well in a variety of well-drained soils provided they aren’t highly alkaline. For the best growth, plant the King Sago Palm in fertile soil that drains well.
King Sago Palms are relatively drought-tolerant once established. Water a newly planted sago several times weekly for the first four to six months. Thereafter, weekly water applications are sufficient, depending on your local weather conditions.
If your outdoor conditions are extremely hot and dry, your King Sago Palm will appreciate a regular deep drink of water.
Is It Easy to Maintain?
When grown in their preferred conditions King Sago Palms are a breeze to maintain. Their small size makes them easy to work around.
Their basic need is regular feedings, water and pruning off dead or damaged branches. Due to their smaller size, this is one plant you can even sit down on the job and still get it done correctly. Consider it the perfect choice for lazy gardeners.
Of course, the tips of the feathery leaflets can be a bit sharp so you might want to wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when working around your King Sago Palm.
Although palms are relatively easy to care for yourself, we encourage our professional maintenance service 3 times a year. We offer the Perfect Palm Maintenance Service with only the best products and professionals for your palms.
What About Fertilizing?
To keep those glossy green feathery leaves looking their best and to promote good growth, it’s best to feed your King Sago Palm about three times during the growing season of spring throughout summer. Apply the first application in April, the second sometime in early June, and the last feeding in September.
Use a product specific to palms or cycads and apply according to package directions on amounts. Spread evenly under the planting site and water in well, being sure to rinse off any fertilizer that gets on the foliage.
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