The Q&A Archives: Sago Palms

Question: To Whom It May Concern: I have been looking on the internet for care information. So I have read to pull my plants in for the winter, but I was wondering if, by chance if I could leave these plants outside and how to wrap them up, for servival. I have 3 Sago Palms Plants, outside my house in Johnston, RI. I would like to know if I can cover my plants with clear plastic? I wanted to make a A-frame wood frame and cover it clear plastic with some small air holes. The plants are facing the west, so they can get afternoon sun. They have been planted since July 2005. I really have no where to store them in the house. How can I keep them warm enought to stay outside? What do you think? Thanks for your help.

Answer: Sago palm is not really a palm, but a cycad. It is a tropical plant, preferring warm and humid conditions. It is rated for cold hardiness in USDA zones 9-11. USDA zone 9 has average annual minimum temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees F. I'm not sure where you are in RI, but that state is in USDA zones 5 or 6. USDA zone 6 has average annual minimum temperatures of minus 10 to 0 degrees F. USDA zone 5 has average annual minimum temperatures of minus 20 to minus 10 degrees F. Even with a makeshift greenhouse, I wouldn't recommend leaving them outdoors. Perhaps there's a friend or neighbor with enough space? If you must leave them outdoors, don't use plastic. Purchase a frost cloth/blanket rated for your temperature zone. The A-frame is a good idea, as you don't want anything touching the foliage. It wasn't clear from your question, but I'm assuming they are in pots. If you can put them in a spot out of wind, where there is reflected sun against a wall and/or heat from the house that forms a little microclimate that is a bit warmer than otherwise, that would help. You might also want to get a minimum/maximum thermometer and track the average outdoor temperatures at your house and keep a record of it. It will help you determine what plants will be best suited. Good luck!

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