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Monday, July 1, 2013

Sago Palm Not Easy to Propagate

Q. How does one start new sago palms? I have a few fronds coming up at the base of our mature sago. What is the process for getting them to live after transplanting?

A. In the past sago palms were never very popular among nurserymen because they had a hard time making money from them. They were slow to grow to a marketable size and had a reputation for being hard to propagate from seed. They can be grown from seed, divided stems and pups.

For you, the best way to propagate it will be from side shoots or pups. These are carefully cut from the stem with a sterile knife, dipped into rooting hormone and then placed in a soil mix that easily drains, and out of direct sunlight, for rooting. They need lots of light but it should be indirect light, not direct light.

It is also a good idea in our climate to make a plastic bag greenhouse (clear plastic) for them to help keep the humidity high until they root. Rooting can take a long time so as long as the pup remains healthy, leave it in the propagating soil mix. Once rooted you should see a push of new growth.

Make sure you let wounds in the main trunk heal before you let any soil come in contact with it. You might also increase your chance of success if you dip the pup into a fungicide, such as Thiram, Captan or Zineb, to prevent rotting. As an alternative to a fungicide you can let the pup air dry for a couple of days out of direct sunlight inside the house, not outside in the heat.

Once the roots have formed it has been suggested that cycads respond well to fertilizer applications of nitrogen and potassium. I hope this helps.

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