Cycas revoluta is commonly known as the Sago Palm. This plant is an evergreen tree with a very thick trunk and resembles a palm tree.
However, despite its common name, Sago Palm belongs to a very old plant family called Cycadaceae, related to the conifer family. Members of this plant family existed as long as 200 million years ago.
Sago Palm is slow growing, so it is very often started as a houseplant or container plant. It can take as long as 50 years to attain its maximum height of 10 feet.
If you live in a subtropical or tropical area (USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11), you can plant your Sago Palm into the landscape when it becomes too large to keep indoors. [source]
In this article, we discuss repotting, transplanting, and/or relocating your Sago Palm tree. Read on to learn more.
- How To Repot Your Container Sago Palm
- 7 Steps To Transplant A New Sago Palm Into Your Landscape
- 6 Steps To Relocate An Established Sago Palm
- 5 Top Tips For Successfully Repotting Or Transplanting Any Sago Palm
How To Repot Your Container Sago Palm
When kept as a houseplant, the Sago Palm grows relatively slowly and does not need frequent repotting. You can probably get by with repotting it once every couple of years in the early springtime.
You can tell when your plant needs repotting because its large, powerful root ball will begin to stress the container. Also, if your plant is in a plastic or similar flexible container, you may notice that the sides start to bulge.
If the plant is in a ceramic, terra-cotta, or wood container, the powerful root ball may cause cracking and splitting of the sides of the container.
If nothing else, you may notice roots beginning to grow enthusiastically out of the drainage holes.
Whenever you see any of these indications, it is time to repot your Sago Palm. As we mentioned, the ideal time of year for repotting these plants is early springtime; however, if the plant is causing damage to its container, you should repot it right away, regardless of the time of year.
Choose The Right Sago Palm Container
The best container for your Sago Palm tree is one that gives it plenty of room for its roots to grow. These plants have a very deep root structure, so a tall, cylindrical sort of container is preferable.
The new container should be about 3″ inches deeper and wider than the container the plant is planted in.
Use Sharply Draining Sago Palm Potting Mix
The best potting mix you can use for Sago Palm is a sharply draining mixture containing ample sand, pumice, peat moss, and the like.
Prepare your potting mix in advance so that you can make quick work of the repotting process.
Put a few inches of potting mix in the new container before you begin removing your plant from its existing container.
Be Careful Of Your Sago Palm’s Trunk
Before transplanting your Sago palm tree, wear gloves, as their pointed and sharp tips can cut your skin.
Begin by laying your Sago Palm in its container on its side. Firmly grip the container with one hand and the trunk of the plant with the other.
Pull straight away from the container, and you should be able to remove the plant from the pot. If not, tap the sides of the pot to help loosen the root ball.
Take great care not to bend the plant’s trunk when you pull. Doing so can break the heart of the tree, which resides in the middle of the trunk.
Transfer Your Plant Quickly
When you have freed your palm tree from its old container, set it on the prepared soil bed in the new container and fill the space around it with potting mix. Water thoroughly and fill in as needed with more potting mix.
Take care not to let the new potting mix rise against the plant’s trunk. Instead, it should be planted at the same level in the new pot as in its old pot.
7 Steps To Transplant A New Sago Palm Into Your Landscape
You’ll want to be well-prepared when you purchase a new Sago Palm in a container to plant it in the landscape.
So before you do anything else, choose a location for the new plant and dig your hole.
Loosen The Soil With A Hoe
- Begin by loosening the soil with a hoe, small knife, or sharp spade.
- Dig a planting hole that is three times wider than the plant’s container.
- Be sure that it is not deeper than the plants’ container. You do not want to have soil piled up against the trunk of the tree.
- When repotting, plant the plant tree at the same depth as its current container.
Prepare The Plant
Once you have prepared the hole, prepare the plant. First, use sharp, sterile pruning shears to remove all plant leaves except for the top ring.
You may also want to physically examine your palm tree for pest infestation, including aphids, scale insects, and other types of bugs and diseases like sooty mold and types of rot.
Make sure to address this problem first before transplanting to avoid spread of diseases.
Remove The Plant From The Container
Tip the plant onto its side and remove it from its container very carefully, just as you would if repotting.
Placing The Plant In The Planting Hole
Place the young palm into the prepared hole and backfill it with the soil you removed from the hole.
Note that if the soil is compacted or otherwise not ideal, you should take some time to amend it when you dig the hole.
Related: More on Sago Palm Soil
Once you have backfilled the cycad with soil, water thoroughly. Check to see if you need to add more soil to increase the soil level to the plant’s level in its previous pot.
However, avoid overwatering because Sago palm tree cannot tolerate soggy soil.
Cover With Mulch
Once you have the right amount of soil in the hole, cover it with a 3-inch layer of mulch. Be careful not to allow the mulch to touch the tree trunk. Keep a 1′ foot ring open around the tree trunk.
Give the plant another good, deep watering and keep the soil moist for six whole months following planting. Then, keep a close eye on the weather, and be sure to give your Sago Palm plenty of water when rain is scarce.
6 Steps To Relocate An Established Sago Palm
If you have a Sago Palm in a less-than-ideal place or need to move a mature Sago Palm from one location to another, follow the same process as planting a new Sago Palm.
However, you must take great care when digging up and relocating the plant.
Choose The Location
When preparing a new plant for planting, begin by choosing a new location and digging a hole to receive the plant.
Ensure your Sago Plam receives full sun to partial shade or bright indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight because it can burn the leaves.
However, too much shade will also increase the risk of rot and sparser foliage.
An area that doesn’t stay overly wet or flood is recommended too.
Pruning Before Digging
Before digging up the plant, use sterilized, sharp pruning shears to remove all but the top leaves.
Moreover, ensure to remove dead, diseased, yellowing, or badly damaged fronds.
Digging The Plant
Use a sharp, clean shovel to begin digging about a foot away from the plant’s trunk. You’ll want to drive the shovel into the soil a minimum of 1′ foot in depth.
Next, go around the plant, making an even circle that provides 1′ foot of soil surrounding the trunk.
When a ring is cut entirely around the Sago Palm, dig underneath the plant’s root ball and press down on the shovel handle to pry the entire root ball out of the ground.
Be careful not to damage the trunk of the plant during this process.
Moving The Sago Plant
If moving the Sago Palm a short distance, put it into a wheelbarrow and roll it to the hole you have already prepared. If it doesn’t fit into a wheelbarrow, you can drag it on a tarp.
The Sago In Its New Location
Once you have the palm in its new location, follow the steps for transplanting a new Sago Palm to place your relocated tree into its new home.
Water A Transplanted “Established” Sago Palm
Note that when transplanting an established Sago Palm, you must take a bit of care when watering.
You don’t want to keep the soil moist for six months as you would when transplanting a new plant.
The reason for this is that digging up the roots can cause damage to them. Also, excessive watering may cause them to rot, so ensure your area has good drainage.
5 Top Tips For Successfully Repotting Or Transplanting Any Sago Palm
Best Time To Transplant, Repot, or Relocate
Remember that the best time for repotting, transplanting, or relocating a Sago Palm tree is late winter or early spring, while the plant is still semi-dormant.
The reason for this is that the plant is already putting a great deal of energy into the development of roots during this time. This will help reduce the amount of shock and stress the plant experiences when moving from one place to another.
Water Before Repotting or Transplanting
Always give your Sago Palm a thorough watering 1 or 2 days before repotting or transplanting. This helps reduce stress.
Prepare In Advance
Prepare everything in advance before you begin the repotting or transplanting process. For example:
- Mix up your potting soil.
- Add organic matter or sand to improve drainage before planting.
- Sharpen and sterilize your implements
- Prepare your container or dig a new hole
- … and so forth
Avoid having your Sago Palm lying out in the open while you take care of these details.
Transporting Sago Palms
If you must transport your Sago Palm a long distance after digging it up, place it into a large bucket filled with a mixture of rooting fertilizer and water.
This will help reduce stress and encourage good root growth when you get your plant to its new location.
In addition, you can use this rooting fertilizer and water mixture to water your Sago Palm once you have it in the ground.
You can also apply a liquid fertilizer monthly or a slow-release fertilizer two to three times throughout the growing season.
Watch the plant carefully for any signs and symptoms of stress for the first couple of months after transplanting.
Treasure Your Sago Palm
While it may seem like a lot of work to keep and transplant a Sago Palm, the fact is these ancient plants are well worth the trouble.
They may take time to bloom but it will be worth it.
A well-cared-for Backyard Sago Palm can live a hundred years old and be enjoyed by many generations.