Sago palms are among the oldest plants in the world and are not in a particularly hurry to grow. It can take up to 2 years before a new wreath of fronds forms. With increasing age, the plants belonging to the cycads can reach a height of up to 4 meters. The Cycas revoluta incorrectly bears the name “sago palm”, but that does not change its distinctive and tropical appearance. Some requirements for the right location and substrate must be met in order to promote the health and growth of the plant.

Choose the right location and substrate

The plant, which comes from Southeast Asia, needs a sheltered place in the light penumbra. Direct and prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause burns on the leaf surface of cycads. High ambient temperatures and a corresponding air humidity promote the resilience and growth of the sago palm. The following tips are recommended when cultivating in the winter garden or outdoors:

Set up containers with lime-free water in the immediate vicinity of the Cycas revoluta. Indoor fountains have also proven themselves in increasing the humidity and also offer a decorative eye-catcher in the room. When choosing a location, note that the plant can grow to a height of between 2 – 4 meters and requires uniform light irradiation.

Tip: The plant does not tolerate waterlogging. Therefore, always create a drainage made of lava chippings or coarse gravel at the bottom of the planter.

The Sago Palm is only suitable conditions for keeping outdoors. As soon as the outside temperature is above 18 ° C, the plant can be relocated to the balcony or terrace without hesitation. A protected place on the house wall is also possible, but avoid direct sunlight and wind throw. Spray the leaves regularly with lime-free water in addition to watering. After moving from the winter quarters, get used to the sago palm slowly to the UV radiation of the sun. Otherwise, severe and visible leaf burns could result.

As an exotic plant, conventional flower or garden soil is unsuitable for sago palms. The slowly growing plant does not tolerate any lime or clay-containing substrate. Rhododendron soil from specialist retailers, for example, is easily digestible for cultivating the plant, but you can also mix the ideal substrate yourself: Use normal garden soil and mix one third of sand and peat under it. This amount increases slightly if the substrate from the garden has a lot of clay and humus.

Proper care in winter: overwinter

Even in the cold season, the East Asian plant must by no means be left to its own devices. If you are cultivating outdoors, you should move the sago palm to a bright room as soon as the temperatures drop below 13 ° C. The Cycas can withstand short-term ambient temperatures below 0 ° C, but this should only be expected in exceptional cases. Frostbite on the roots and the associated grief or death of the entire plant could be the result.

A basement room or a staircase that is too dark is not very beneficial for the health of the plant. The sago palm also needs a light location in the winter months. The temperature should be between 10 – 15 ° C, direct proximity to heat sources promotes the too rapid drying of the leaves and an infestation with spider mites. Avoid warmer temperatures during winter. Because these stimulate the cycads to form new fronds, some of which only sprout on one side and quickly deteriorate. Due to the slow growth of the Cycas revoluta, years can pass before this optical problem is resolved.

  • Pour moderately.
  • Do not fertilize.
  • Spray regularly with lime-free water.
  • Check for pests.
Note: Pay attention to the correct pouring technique: pouring only takes place again when the top substrate layer has dried noticeably.

Tips for yellow leaves and mistakes in care

Sago palms have the unpleasant peculiarity of reacting with the slightest change or deficiency symptoms with a yellow coloration of the fronds. Yellow leaves are no longer regenerated. Cut away the affected part of the plant generously so that the plant is encouraged to form new fronds. The following factors can cause leaf discoloration:Overfertilization and nutrient deficiency Fertilization is only used during the main growing season, when the cycad is developing new fronds. The administration of conventional liquid fertilizer is completely sufficient, which is administered directly over the irrigation water according to the packaging instructions. The fertilization intervals can vary between two weeks and a month. In order to avoid over-fertilization, there must be no supply of nutrients for the rest of the time. If, however, there was an oversupply, you should immediately transfer the plant to freshly prepared substrate. If this is not possible, remove large amounts of the soil from the pot and replace it with a garden soil / sand mixture.

A lack of nutrients is not only noticeable in the yellow discolored fronds. Young leaves hardly sprout and the entire plant is visibly caring. In this case, too, fertilize with conventional liquid fertilizer and as a precaution avoid using more fertilizer than indicated on the back of the pack. Sago palms are frugal and with these Asian plants, less is more.

Incorrect watering behavior
The root ball of the cycad must not dry out, on the other hand it is very sensitive to waterlogging. Avoid yellow discolored fronds by regularly checking the soil in the bucket. As soon as the top layer of substrate has dried, you can pour again. Larger amounts of lime-free water should be added slowly and at intervals. With this method you ensure that the complete potting soil can soak up moisture and does not flow through it quickly without being used.

Even in winter, the supply of low-lime water must not be stopped. In the hot season you often have to reach for the watering can two to three times a week. During the cold season, however, it can take two to three weeks before the surface of the earth in the bucket has dried and you have to refill. Regardless of the season of the year, always remove standing water in the planter immediately. You can also effectively counteract waterlogging and the associated root rot with a permeable substrate and a thicker drainage layer on the bottom of the bucket.

The plant needs a very bright location. However, direct and long-lasting sunlight is only tolerated by older sago palms and fronds after a long period of acclimatization. Prevent leaf burns and prefer a light place in partial shade. Places that are too dark or rooms with one-sided light irradiation ensure that the fronds of the sago palm only develop on one side. Even during the winter months, make sure that a very light and frost-protected place is available for the cycads to hibernate.

Change of location Malformations on the feathered fronds and yellowish discoloration can be the result of a change of location. Sago palms are sensitive to changes of this type and should only be relocated from the field to winter quarters – or vice versa. You should also avoid turning the planter during the formation of new fronds.


Discoloration and wilting of the fronds is not always due to a care mistake. Different types of lice and mites also feel comfortable on the Southeast Asian plant and cause various symptoms due to their presence.

Spider mites
Arachnids are particularly common in winter, when the cycads are exposed to dry, heated air and warm temperatures. These conditions promote the reproduction of Tetranychus urticae, the “common spider mite”. With their proboscis and proboscis, they extract the essential cell sap from the plant on the underside of the leaves. As a result, cream-colored to silvery discolorations appear on the fronds of the sago palm, which dry up completely in the advanced stage. Spray the entire plant with a water atomizer to reveal the fine webs of the common spider mite. Combating the 8-legged pests is urgently advised, as an overpopulation can damage the Cycas considerably and neighboring plants are also affected.

Various chemical agents for successfully combating spider mites are available in specialist shops. However, other measures are also possible: For example, you can fall back on the natural predators of the pests. A short-term increase in humidity has also proven its worth: water the plant sufficiently and wrap it completely with a transparent film. Repeat this procedure if necessary.

Mealybugs and mealybugs
Like other pests, these representatives of the scale insects also feed on the sap of the sago palm. During the ingestion of food, the lice secrete a poisonous secretion, which also damages the infected plant. Visible evidence of mealybugs and mealybugs are, for example:

  • A cotton-like coating can be seen on the cycad.
  • Discoloration
  • Dried Wedel
  • Sticky surface on the infected parts of the plant.

Plants that are already weakened are more susceptible to the pests. If the fronds are discolored, you should not only consider care errors, but also carefully check the entire Cycas. Remove the visible, adult animals and carefully wipe the leaf axes and fronds with a mixture of water and alcohol. Neem oil has also proven itself in a small population of mealybugs and mealybugs. Isolate affected plants and use insecticides if necessary. However, you should only use chemical agents exactly according to the instructions on the packaging, so as not to endanger the sago palm or your own health.


Sago palms are relatively resistant to disease. In the case of incorrect cultivation conditions and improper care, the cycad can still provide a breeding ground for various fungal diseases.

Powdery mildew

A wipeable, whitish or brown coating on the fronds is an indication of “real powdery mildew”. This fair-weather mushroom prefers dry air and warm temperatures. As a precaution, spray the sago palm regularly with lime-free water and remove affected parts of the plant if it is infected. These can be disposed of with normal garden compost, because the fungus needs living tissue to spread. Special insecticides against “powdery mildew” are available in specialist shops, but you should only use them if the fungal disease is widespread.

Root rot
The fungus “Phytophtora” needs a very moist and closed environment and attacks the root ball of the sago palms. As the infestation progresses, a musty smell penetrates the plant substrate and the entire Cycas revoluta visibly takes care of it. Chemical means are ineffective against root rot, put the plant in dry substrate, in most cases the sago palm will recover. Do not cut rotten roots and only water again when the external appearance of the plant has improved. Preventive measures against “Phytophtora” are drainage on the bottom of the bucket and the right supply of water. When the top layer of soil in the bucket has dried, it is poured again.

Cycas are easy to cultivate, but react quickly to the slightest change with discoloration of the fronds. With the right tips, however, you can promote the health and growth of your sago palm and thus effectively prevent diseases and pests.

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