Sago palm plants aren’t true palms at all. They only resemble these slim trees in the way they put out their fronds. It’s the flowers that give away the true nature of sagos, which is part of the Cycadaceae family.
Cycads are ancient evergreen plants characterized by being gymnosperms or cone-bearing plants. There are around 300 different species of Cycads known to us, and botanists are still exploring and finding more.
Believe it or not, a close relative of the sago palm is the pine tree, which illustrates the cone-bearing trait in a more obvious way.
This palm tree produces a single, shaggy, upright trunk that often takes a few years to show itself with bronze, feather-like foliage.
There are separate male and female plants. Female flowers hold the seeds in a rounded cone, while male plants produce tall pollen-filled cones.
Sagos usually have a queen sago and a king sago, depending on whether they’re male sago palms or female sago palms.
Sago palms are initially from Southern Japan, which explains why they’re more successful indoors or in partially shaded outdoor areas.
They also thrive in USDA hardiness zones 7b through 11.
What’s the Right Way to Cutting Off Sago Palm Flower?
Sago palms (Cycas revoluta) are relatively slow growers, often putting out new fronds once every year or so during the growing season. That’s why pruning sago palms isn’t an everyday activity that gardeners carry out.
At maturity, their pinnate leaves typically grow about 4′ to 5′ feet long, especially when grown in ideal conditions such as full sun to partial shade locations.
Additionally, the flower heads start showing when the palms are around 15 years old. The flowers then come out approximately every three years. This may occur more frequently among growers who have prosperous sago palms in their gardens.
In the following sections, we’ll explain the right way to cut off sago flowers and whether or not you have to do that.
Is Cutting Off Sago Flowers Necessary?
No leaving the sago flowers alone shouldn’t be a problem. But, most growers keep the sago palms for their neat appearance, and the cone-shaped flower head may detract from that. Also, it doesn’t add any particular benefit to the plant.
Our Best Tips For Cutting Off Sago Flowers
We have a couple of sago trees in our garden, and we’ve seen several of them in parks and woodlands throughout the years.
Comparing the way these drought-tolerant plants look with and without their flowers and cones, we’d say that we prefer the cut-off appearance.
Some gardeners are apprehensive about causing damage to the plant as they remove cones. It’s important, of course, to proceed with caution as you go about pruning sago palms.
Here are some of our best tips on how to do it.
- Remove the Crown at the Base
Before cutting, always wear gloves to avoid sharp thorns and leaf tips, as they can cause injury.
A clean cut is necessary to keep the neat appearance of the sago palm. We recommend using an extra sharp curved knife to remove the crown without scarring the parent plant too much.
After that, you don’t need to do anything at all. A scab will form in a few days, and a new frond will emerge from it within the next year.
- Let the Cone Become Ripe, and Then Harvest the Seeds
If you have a queen sago palm, you can harvest a bunch of its seeds. But first, you need to get them pollinated by a king sago palm cone.
If you have one nearby, nature will perform that function. If not, you need to find a recently cut king sago cone.
The seeds need to stay in their cone to grow fully. And once they become ripe, you can cut off the whole flower. You can then germinate the seedlings and replant them in the garden or in little pots.
It’s worth noting, though, that propagating sago palms through seedlings isn’t easy. Usually, these plants reproduce by the gardener taking a cutting from the side shoots of their bark.
Related: 5 Ways To Get Rid Of Sago Palm Scale
- Store the King Sago Seeds for Pollination
After you cut off the king sago palm cone, you could use it right away for pollinating nearby queen sago palms.
Also, you could put it in a plastic bag and take it further off sago plants. It could still be usable after a few days, provided it’s well-stored.
Don’t forget to store the seeds in a bright location and avoid full sun.
- Cut Off the Crown Early on to Avoid Seed Toxicity
Almost all parts of the sago palm are toxic, but the nut-like seeds that grow inside its flower have the highest toxicity. If you have children around the house, choosing a different plant would be wise.
Birds and pets could also sample their seeds, and the results aren’t pleasant. Some of the more experienced birds only peck the outside layer, but cutting off that part of the plant is still advisable.
- Timely Pruning is the Way to Nice Aesthetics
Leaving the seed crown without cutting or pruning will leave the sago palm looking a bit messy.
The disintegration of the crown takes some time, and it could be an eyesore if you only planted this tree for decorative reasons.
To plant Sago palm, ensure a well-draining soil that’s rich in organic matter. A soil mix of sand, perlite, and peat moss will also work well.
Don’t forget to feed your sago palm in spring and fall with a slow-release fertilizer designed especially for palms.