The Q&A Archives: Sago Palm

Question: Hi,
I bought a sago palm about three months ago and had it by a very bright window where the sun shone brightly in in the afternoon. I may have lightly watered it once or twice. The leaves started turning yellow at the core. I decided that maybe it needed more water so I put water in the dish under the pot and it drank all the water three times! Now the plant is all turning yellow. I don't see any bugs of any kind. Please help. This is my favorite house plant.
Thanks very much.

Answer: Although commonly called sago palm, this plant is actually a cycad that prefers partial to full shade. Avoid full sun or reflected sun. An eastern exposure (morning sun) would be best indoors. Sago palms also require good quality garden soil and regular irrigation for best growth and appearance. If the plant is in a sunny location, the yellowing is likely caused by sunburn. If the drainage is poor or the soil stays damp all the time, the yellowing may be due to overwatering. Water should drain freely and the container should not stand in water. You don't want it to reabsorb water that has drained through because it will be high in salt content, which also causes yellowing and salt burn. When you water, water slowly and deeply to moisten the entire root ball. Let the water drain through the holes. Light watering dissolves salts in solution, and then the salts are deposited whereever the water stops, so if only the top few inches are getting moistened, salts will accumulate. If the pot is manageable, you might want to put it under a slow drip in the sink or tub. Also, You may want to purchase a moisture meter to check the soil moisture around the root ball. Hope this info helps.

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