Ask a Question forum: Yellowing Sago Palm Houseplant

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Eastern Pennsylvania
panicked
Feb 12, 2019 12:13 PM CST
I bought this sago palm from a Lowe's almost two weeks ago and it seems to be doing very badly fast. It's in a southern exposure window, in a new terra cotta pot, some fresh cactus mix and mostly the soil it came in, and I watered it on the 7th, but it keeps growing yellow out from the center of the frond, which doesn't seem good. All of the leaves were a lush green when I bought it, except for a single leaf. I don't know what is happening to it, and don't know how to narrow down what the problem is. I don't know if it's "conserving nutrients," has had too much or too little fertilizer, the soil is depleted, the leaves are sunburned, are getting too little light, it needs more water, or what.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 12, 2019 12:25 PM CST
Hello panicked, I am trying to view your photo. How did you plant the caudex area? It has to be raised a bit above soil line.
Name: Will Creed
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WillC
Feb 12, 2019 1:14 PM CST
There is a very good chance it is reacting to the repotting that you did and that was probably unnecessary.
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Name: Lin
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
Feb 12, 2019 1:33 PM CST
I've never grown a Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) as an indoor plant but both over watering and under watering can cause yellowing leaves. From what I can see in your photo, the soil your plant is growing in appears quite dry. Terra Cotta pots tend to dry out rather quickly so you may need to adjust your watering schedule and water more often. When you water, pour the water on top of the soil and allow it to completely saturate the soil until it's running through the drainage holes of the pot. Do not water again until the top inch or two of soil feels dry to touch. Empty any access water from the saucer after each watering, never allowing the pot to sit in a saucer of water. You can remove the yellow leaves because they will not recover.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 12, 2019 8:00 PM CST
Just continue to monitor your plant for now. They are not at their active growing period right now, better to just keep it dry. It is quite drought tolerant and it is also adjusting to your growing area. Plus if it was planted too deep, that needs to be corrected, but it can wait till Spring. It will not grow new leaves at this time anyways, they usually require very warm summer temps, to trigger new leaf growth.

Keep it warm and dry, that is all you can do for now. Even once a month thorough watering during the cold season is okay for it, more so since you have it indoors. Be very patient, it is one of the most slow growing plants I have seen.
I don't grow it indoors either, it really seeks as much direct sun and heat.

See this file photo of new growth, this batch of new growth happened in 05July 2018, ambient temps are in the 80F to 95F.

Thumb of 2019-02-13/tarev/684cf8

Don't cut off the yellowing leaves for now either. Just let it be, it will take a long time before it goes to brown dried out color. Do it in Spring. From time to time, check the underside of the leaves as well, in case it has some nasties under it.
Eastern Pennsylvania
panicked
Feb 13, 2019 8:22 PM CST
I appreciate the responses that I have received.
@Tarev I'm not sure what you mean be raising it above the soil line; so I took a picture of the caudex and attached it. It should be okay to keep it next to a vent for the heat?
Thumb of 2019-02-14/panicked/5ed6ce

Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Feb 13, 2019 9:07 PM CST
Thanks for the photo panicked. That is good, the caudex is above soil line. Thumbs up

As for the position near the vent, I don't encourage putting plants too near heating vents. Try to position just a bit further but still close to your window.

Btw, what is the orientation of that window? That plants need good strong light.

Your container looks a bit tapered on the bottom side, just monitor later on, plant will eventually be top heavy with its leaves so it might easily topple over. It will be a long time anyways, it is so slow growing. It will tend to grow longer leaf fronds as it seeks more light and matures some more.

It is quite fun to see the crown break out the new leaves later on, all at once, soft to the touch and curled, then slowing opening up, getting tougher and eventually those poky tip ends. Smiling
[Last edited by tarev - Feb 14, 2019 8:18 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
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WillC
Feb 14, 2019 2:23 PM CST
It looks like it is doing just fine. As long as hot air is not blowing directly on it and it is not sitting directly on a hot heating element, the vent is not a problem.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
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Eastern Pennsylvania
panicked
Feb 26, 2019 12:41 AM CST
@tarev it's a southern exposure window.
Well, I've left it alone for the last 2 weeks and it looks like this now. The fronds have spread out to capture the light, but are some are quite thoroughly yellow-white, both the leaves and frond. Especially the one in the back. They feel stiff and hard to the touch compared to the green ones, are they dead?
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I was hoping that once the growing season starts in late March I could repot it in a bigger pot and give it some palm food and it might perk up and look a little nicer, but I guess that won't happen.
Water just runs through the soil in this pot so fast, I wonder if any water is even being retained.
[Last edited by panicked - Feb 26, 2019 12:47 AM (+)]
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Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Feb 26, 2019 12:48 AM CST
Try watering in more than one pass, separated by a few minutes.

The thread "Sunday afternoon experiment: watering in multiple passes" in Gardening Ideas forum
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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tarev
Feb 26, 2019 10:01 AM CST
Hello panicked, it does not look dead to me, but that blinds being closed like that, it is limiting too much the light it needs. Can you open it more? The yellowed leaves are the older ones, so typically I do not worry about it. But it needs really more light than that.

Good to hear it is a south facing window, but it needs to see the light some more, hope you can open the blinds half way more.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Feb 26, 2019 10:03 AM CST
It is hard to know if your Sago Palm is reacting to the repotting, acclimating to its new environment or responding to your watering. Trim off the older, discolored fronds as they will not recover.

When water runs straight through it can be because the soil is so dry it is almost water repellent or it may mean the opposite - that the soil is already saturated and cannot hold any more water. You are going to have to determine which of those two extremes it is by probing with your finger or using a wooden dowel poked into the soil.

The pot is more than large enough and it will not need repotting in the foreseeable future. Likewise, its small root system will not need much fertilizer. (BTW, despite its common name, it is not a Palm; it is a Cycad.) It is a slow grower so don't expect a surge of new growth as spring arrives. Get the watering under control and otherwise be patient.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Eastern Pennsylvania
panicked
Feb 28, 2019 3:53 PM CST
@WillC Where should I cut it? Where the frond emerges from the caudex?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 1, 2019 9:32 AM CST
Yes, remove the entire frond and its stem.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Eastern Pennsylvania
panicked
Mar 6, 2019 2:32 PM CST
Thanks everyone for your replies. The plant looks a lot better now that I trimmed away the yellowed fronds, though the leaves seem to keep curling and turning a patchy yellow green.
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Thumb of 2019-03-06/panicked/95746f

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