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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Can Sago Palm Grow in the Hot Desert?

Q. I understood that sago palms liked afternoon shade.  Can this plant handle afternoon sun with reflected heat and rock mulch?
Sago palm or cycad in planter in desert landscape

A. Sago palm or cycads will perform better with less care if they are planted in eastern or northern exposures rather than southern or western exposures. They will survive in your spot but will not look their best.
They will grow in full sun and under some very tough desert conditions if the soil is improved, they are receiving the right kind of irrigation and fertilizer and surrounded by wood mulch. 
Sago palm growing in partial shade in the desert
When grown under these very harsh conditions they usually grow shorter fronds, the fronds are frequently discolored with a yellowish or bronze appearance and the fronds may even scorch or burn at the tips.
When these plants are grown in more protective environments they look much better with more succulent growth, longer fronds, darker green with a lot less care. It would be incorrect to say they will not grow under some very harsh conditions but they will perform better and with less management in less hostile environments.

Will it survive with rock mulch in an intense desert environment? Sometimes. But it will not have a long life expectancy and not look as pretty. Under rock mulch conditions with very little soil improvement I would give them 5 to 10 years looking okay after they were planted. 

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