The Q&A Archives: Sago Palm

Question: Hi, I have a sago palm, that is turning yellow. Even the new growth is turning yellow. What could be the problem? How often should I water them? thanks and GOD BLESS YOU! VIVIAN

Answer: Caryota, or Sago palms, are small to medium-sized palms that grow best in full sun but will adapt to shady sites, in rich, moist soil. Overwatering is the number one cause of yellowing foliage. But, there are others: If your plant is fairly new and you planted it in sunshine, the sun may be burning the tops of the leaves. If only the tops of the leaves are yellowing, perhaps direct sunlight is causing the yellowing on the leaves. Sago palms may or may not retain their old leaves, so what you're observing may be normal for the plant. The leaves can be cut off if they're unattractive to you. It's not unusual for sagos to have just one row of leaves at the top of the trunk. If you've had it for a while and your palm is acting differently than it has in the past, it may need to be fed, or it may need a deeper soaking than you've been giving it. Periodic deep soakings will also leach salts away from the roots. If you carefully inspect the leaves, you may find spider mites (look for webbing between the leaf fans and the stem). An infestation of spider mites can turn leaves yellow prematurely. To avoid the problem, hose the foliage down every few weeks to remove the dust and any spider mites that might have taken up residence. If you want to feed your palm, you can spread several inches of organic matter over the roots so the nutrients released as the organic matter decomposes will trickle down into the soil, or you can broadcast an 8-8-8 complete fertilizer over the root zone. Palms are sensitive to salts, so don't apply any more fertilizer than the label recommends or you'll burn the roots. Your palm may not start growing again until next spring, but if you feed it, and water it regularly, it should perform well. Hope this information helps you determine just what might be wrong with your sago.

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