The Q&A Archives: Watering a Sago Palm

Question: I bought a 3-4 ft sago palm and had it transplanted. I am not confident that I know how to care for it, specifically how to water.

Answer: The sago palm (actually it is a cycad, Cycas revoluta) can live for decades and eventually grows quite huge. It takes filtered light or full shade, but keep out of direct sunlight. It is normally a very slow grower. You didn't say whether it was transplanted in the ground or a pot. If in the ground, don't fertilize. If in a pot, let it establish for at least a couple months before fertilizing. Feed when it is actively growing (spring to early summer) with a very dilute solution of water soluble fertilizer for foliage plants such as 10-10-10. It is better to underfertilize it than overfertilize. It should be allowed to just barely dry somewhat between very thorough, drenching waterings, so that water penetrates as deep as the rootball. Be careful not to overwater it, especially during the winter which will cause root rot. Overwatering in winter is probably the most common problem people have with it. You might see only one growth spurt every year or so, depending on how much light it receives. Enjoy your sago palm!

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