Ask a Question forum: Sago Palm, dying. Received advice from 2 nursery professionals, need help

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smalldog
Jul 13, 2016 5:43 PM CST
Hello, I have 15 year old Sego palms planted in my outdoor garden, mostly shade. Last year, they became quite yellow. I was advised by my local nursery that I was over watering. I have evergreens that overhang the palms, so I thought the water was running off to the Segos, therefore cut back on watering. They have not crowned for 2 years. Last week I returned to the nursery with photos as it was yellow to brown with fronds splayed completely out and drooping. There are dark brown bands on the most recent fronds. I was advised to flood the palms as they were starved for water, flood every 3 days. I did purchase some magnism sulfate liquid, and fed, no change. I have read most of the articles available but do not see my condition listed. I would appreciate assistance, don't want to loose these wonderful plants.
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 13, 2016 6:30 PM CST
Hey smalldog, welcome to garden.org. Could you please fill in your personal profile with your location so we can have some clues as to your weather conditions, soil, humidity etc. It's the little person icon in the upper left of the blue sidebar.

That poor little sago looks really sad. Do you have any pictures of it before it fell ill? I'll venture some thoughts and then hopefully there will be more clues after we know where you are, and what the weather's been like.

First, it's very small for being 15 years old. I don't think this is a new problem, and it might be related to several factors. The very narrow planter bed there, between the house wall and the little retaining wall may have been leaching alkaline stuff from the concrete for years, keeping the soil at an unsuitable pH. Have you had the soil tested in their bed? How about your water? A high pH environment can make it so that plants literally can't access the nutrients in the soil. Hmm, how about fertilizer? What have you given them for fertilizer besides Magnesium sulphate in recent years? In a limited environment like that narrow planting bed

Second, It's also too narrow for the palms to have developed a full root system as they put out roots on all sides of the plant, a very dense mat in a circle around the stem.

Third, the fact that they've probably had increasing shade (as the nearby trees grew) in the 15 years they've lived there may have some bearing as well. These plants live happily in partial sun here in Florida, at least where I am. Plants can't make food for themselves without enough sunlight.

Any chance you've got a better place to transplant them to? Better soil, a little more root room, and more light might save them. But I'm not really optimistic.

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Jul 13, 2016 6:59 PM CST
Hi, Smalldog, welcome to NGA!

I'm sorry I can't help, but I know some questions that people will ask.

1. Where outside? What kind of climate? The likely problems could be different in Alaska and Texas.

2. How does that narrow bed drain?
Open bottom onto sandy soil, open bottom onto dense clay, or enclosed concrete box with no drain holes?

Back when they first said you were over-watering it, did you push finger into the soil several inches to see how deep you had to go to reach damp soil?

How deep is the root zone? I'm wondering if it might just plain need a bigger root zone.


3. Is that just mulch we see, or is all the soil in that bed nice and loose and chunky?

I would ask about the soil, but I assume it's heavily amended. Have you had it tested for pH and nutrients? You might equally likely find "very low Nitrogen" or "excessive nutrients and salts".


4. Before you added magnesium sulfate, how were you fertilizing it?

5. You mentioned pines that overhang, and it looks like it is right up against the house, and you did say "mostly shade".

But this is one place where knowing where you live would be a big help. If you live in Texas or Nevada or New Mexico and say "mostly shade", that's a lot more light than what the coastal Pacific Northwest would call "mostly shade".


6. Is it a Sago palm? Cycas revoluta ?
Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

If that's it, I see:
"Xeriscapic", "Tolerates dry shade"
"Prefers to be under-potted"
- Suitable in 1 gallon
- Suitable in 3 gallon or larger
- Needs excellent drainage in pots

Can you offer any advice?
@flaflwrgrl
@jmorth
@Esperanza
@Englishgardener



Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
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flaflwrgrl
Jul 13, 2016 7:22 PM CST
I say cut off all those yellow fronds. Don't sap any more energy from them than needs to be. Elaine had great advice for you. Sago palms happily grow in partial shade or what I will call Florida's partial shade which means a whole lot of sun, at least 6 hours and they will grow in the full, relentless FL sun which means up to 14 hours of sun. I think yours are getting too much shade. Also the other things that Elaine said. Dig them up & move them if you want to save them. Put them in the yard where they get more sun & cut everything yellow off NOW. Cut it right back to the trunk there.
It will likely take a long, long time for you to see new growth on them so you will have to be patient and wait. They may or may not survive.
It may be too hard to get them out of that narrow planter with enough roots left on them to give them a fighting chance.

I wish you luck!

I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
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ShadyGreenThumb
Jul 13, 2016 7:34 PM CST
I agree I agree I agree Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!
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uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
central Illinois
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jmorth
Jul 13, 2016 9:02 PM CST
Welcome smalldog. I can't add much, other than the fact that they definitely like at least half a day sun. My actual interaction w/ Sago is near nil other than taking pictures in botanical gardens or while visiting my 2 grandsons in Houston (but thanks for the nod Rick).
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.

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