Cycas Revoluta

Sago Palm

The sago palm is the only cycas plant from its genus which is sold in garden stores for growing indoors, named cycas revoluta.

Although, this species is not a true palm – it has the appearance of a palm, with its feather like fronds. These fronds also look very similar to some ferns.

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aerial view of sago palm

Sago palms are slow growing plants that take a fair few years (5 or more) to reach their maximum height of appoximatly 2ft, when grown indoors. A plant may only produce one leaf per year, so don't expect lot's of new foliage to appear during it's growing period.

The bad news is propagation by seed will take years to produce a 2ft tall plant; however, the good news is mature plants are sold at many garden stores and they can last for years and years.

Foliage: A woody type base (called a caudex) which is the stem produces pinnate fronds (multiple leaflets on a stalk) similar to a fern plant. These stiff and kind of brittle fronds grow over a foot long in an upwards fashion then arch over.

Do take care when handling - fronds get bent quite easily and it takes a long time for new fronds to appear.

Ease of growing: The sago palm is easy enough for most growers to care for and maintain, but not quite a beginner plant. You will need to provide plenty of bright light, above average humidity levels, do not over-water and have plenty of patience with a young plant.

Ancient Ancestors

The cycads genus, which this species belongs to has an amazing history dating back before dinosaurs roamed the earth. The discovery of fossils from cycads provides evidence of the existence of their ancestors dating back to over 300 million years ago.

The sago palm is best suited for growing in a bright conservatory, but it can also be placed in other rooms where there is enough light and room for the wide fronds.

Pets: This plant is poisonous and one you really don’t want cats or dogs grazing on. If ingested some of the possible reactions can be extreme including death, according to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and other sources. One problem is the leaflets are quite slim which does attract the attention of cats, so cat owners may not want to risk having one of these plants in a home.


Origin: Asia.
Names: Sago Palm (common). Cycas Revoluta (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): Height 2ft indoors.
Poisonous for pets: Toxic to cats and dogs (see article).
picture of cycas revoluta

Sago Palm Care

Temperature: Temperature: Average room temperatures of 65°F (16°C) --- 75°F (24°C) are suitable and no lower than 55°F (12.7°C).
Light: The cycas revoluta grows at it's best with bright light, without direct sunlight.
Watering: The soil is best kept moist, so water once the soil begins to dry slightly at the top. Over-watering or watering at the crown of the plant can cause the plant to rot. During the winter reduce watering.
Soil: A well draining and aerated potting mix is needed. Something like 1 part peat, 1 part pine bark and 1 part coarse sand is a suitable mix.
Re-Potting: Once again because it's a slow growing plant it does not need to be re-potted every year. Once every 3 years should be fine.
Fertilizer: I would feed this plant once a month from April - October with a diluted liquid fertilizer. It wont need quite as much or as often as many other foliage plants because it's so slow growing.
Humidity: Average to above average humidity levels are best suited. You may want to improve humidity levels with a humidity tray or electronic humidifier if the plant has problems associated with dry air conditions, such as brown leaflet tips. To improve humidity mist the leaves during the summer and when the air is dry.
Propagation: Propagation is done by seed, which most growers wont attempt to do because it takes so long for them to germinate and then the length of time the plant takes to grow to a reasonable height is also too long. In the right setting with good conditions a plant can produce offsets which can be removed and re-planted to produce a new sago.

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