How to Care for a Sago Palm

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The Sago Palm is hardy and easy to care for, which makes it a great indoor potted plant for beginners and experienced plant owners. It’s not actually a palm but a cycad (a prehistoric family of plants), though its palm-like leaves make it easy to see how this little guy got its nickname.

Our general Signature Collection care guidelines are: medium light, weekly watering, and room temperature. Read onward for more specific Sago Palm care instructions!

Please note that the Sago Palm is toxic to humans and animals, so keep well out of reach of children and pets. Wear gloves when working closely with your Sago and wash your hands after touching the plant.

How much light does a Sago Palm need?

Sago Palms do best in bright light, but they can tolerate low light with proper care. So if you don’t have the sunniest apartment, don’t count the Sago out. They thrive with about eight hours of good sunlight per day, so try to keep them close to a window if you have one.

How much water does a Sago Palm need?

Sago Palms don’t do well with excess moisture, so be sure to let your Sago dry out between waterings. Overwatering is the easiest way to make your Sago feel under the weather and leads to root rot that can seriously harm your plant.

Water so the top inch of soil is moist (check it with your fingertip if you need to) and let it dry out between waterings about once a week.

Does a Sago Palm need fertilizer?

Our Sago Palm plants are grown to thrive in the home environment and transition from greenhouse to home comfortably. We don’t expect that you’ll need to fertilize your Sago in the first six to twelve months you have it at home, but you can choose to fertilize and promote additional growth in the future. It’s important to wait until your Sago is comfortable in its new home before adding fertilizer.

Find a palm plant fertilizer and feed your Sago Palm according to package directions two to three times between spring and summer (for example, in April, June, and August - or May and August). Water your Sago Palm thoroughly when feeding with plant food so that the nutrients from the fertilizer make their way through the soil.

What is the best temperature for a Sago Palm?

Sago Palms are extremely temperature hardy and can survive in all sorts of temperatures from below freezing to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We don’t recommend testing the limits, however, and we advise you to keep your Sago happy in average room temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees.

Common Sago Palm problems

The most common Sago Palm issue is yellowing and browning leaves. This happens naturally as the plant ages and goes through dormancy periods, because it’s conserving nutrients for future growth and allowing old leaves to die off. However, if you notice yellowing, browning, or dropping of new leaves on your Sago, this can indicate deficiencies in the soil or even damage from insects. Since pest damage is less likely with an indoor Sago, we won’t go into detail - but reach out if you do think your Sago is infested with pests and we’ll be happy to help.

Overwatering and Overfeeding

Two of the easiest things to do to your Sago Palm are overwatering and overfeeding with fertilizer. And both of these cause - you guessed it - yellowing leaves! It’s best to err on the side of not enough fertilizer rather than too much, so take care to note your fertilizer’s instructions and keep an eye on your Sago to see how it does before you fertilize the next time.

To keep from overwatering, be sure to let your Sago dry between waterings. Root rot can kill your Sago if the roots are saturated with too much water.

No New Growth

Sago Palms generally take a while to grow new leaves, so yours may stay put in its 5” Signature Collection pot for years. You may want to repot your Sago  in the spring every three years or so to give it new soil. Generally, Sago Palms thrive while slightly root-bound, but when the roots start to outgrow the volume of the soil (i.e., there’s less dirt than there used to be), you can move up to a larger pot.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Another potential reason for yellowing leaves is a nutrient deficiency. Sago Palms commonly experience magnesium and nitrogen deficiencies that result in yellowing and dying leaves. This is easily remedied by adding a fertilizer to your routine. A slow-releasing fertilizer that includes nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, and manganese is a safe bet. Specialty fertilizers for Sago Palms are also available.

Get Your Sago On

These care tips should help you handle any Sago Palm care needs like a pro. If you still have questions, contact us and we’ll be happy to troubleshoot for you.

PS. This is so important we’re saying it twice: The Sago Palm is extremely toxic to humans and animals. Handle with care, wear gloves, and wash your hands. Keep out of reach of children and pets.

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