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Growing Sago Palm Bonsai
Sago Palm Bonsai (Cycus revoluta) is popular among Bonsai enthusiasts. These plants are easy to handle. So, it would be a good plant to start for beginners.
They resemble palms. But they are not true palms despite being popular as sago palms. Cycas revoluta, the sago palm, is native to Southern Japan. They are ancient plants that occupied the land for over 150 million years. It was during the Mesozoic era. The Sago Palm‘s indestructibility and survivability are extraordinary. They not only outgrown the dinosaurs. But could often have undesirable natural events and human oversights.
When rooted in the ground, sago palms can reach 108 feet. The sago palms have broad, feathery green leaves. It can add a touch of tropical elegance to your houses and gardens.
But when you make sago palm bonsai as an indoor plant, it will grow to a few feet in size. Sago palms are slow glowers, with most plants producing only three sets of leaves per year. Therefore a sago palm requires adequate light, water, and container space to become a healthy plant.
A personal note:
My interest in the Sago Palm plant began when we moved to Florida. At the front door of our new home, amidst the landscaping, was the most interesting plant I had seen, a Sago Palm!
Always in demand, the Sago Palms make a remarkable feature in Florida landscapes. So naturally, I found the Bonsai version equally intriguing. The fact that they grow easily with minimal care makes them even better!
The Sago Palm Bonsai is a favorite of many people, including me!
What is a Sago Palm Bonsai?
Sago Palm Bonsai is among the most primitive living spermatophyte plants. So it is a rare and popular ornamental. The common name “Sago Palm” comes from the hardy trunk topped with whorled feathery leaves. You can relate it to Conifer and Ginkgo trees. They are all cone-bearing plants that originated in the early Mesozoic flora. It is also often referred to as “living fossils.”
The shiny dark-green leaves of the Sago Palm have rigid mid-rib and glossy leaflets. The leaves curl along the edge and grow in a circular pattern. It has a thick and hairy trunk, like a palm tree.
Regardless of their age or size, it is one of the easiest Bonsai plants to grow by experts or beginners. It can be indoors or outdoors.
How Do You Grow A Palm Bonsai Tree?
Sago palm bonsai is a spermatophyte plant, which means it is a seed plant. You can start having sago palm bonsai by planting its seed. Soak it in water for a few days before removing the red skin. Then leave only hard white seeds. You can plant your seedlings right away. It takes up to 9 months to sprout.
But propagating the pups from the plant is a faster method to have sago palm bonsai. I will discuss it in the last part.
Sago palm bonsai is one of the easiest plants to handle. But, there are factors you need to check in growing this plant.
How much light does a sago palm need?
Sago palm bonsai prefers full sun. But it can endure outdoor shade or bright light indoors for a few hours in the morning or afternoon. Keep the plant in a place where it will receive at least three hours of direct sunlight daily.
In low light, long leaves can grow. While in bright light, short leaves can grow. It will stretch if an indoor sago plant gets new leaves and can’t receive enough light. But ut will look at the side where there is at least a little light. And will become long and curvy and undesirable in a Bonsai.
To prevent new leaves from leaning in one direction, rotate the tree if the light is not overhead. Once the leaves have hardened, this change will no longer be necessary.
What temperature can a sago palm handle?
The sago palm bonsai is temperature sturdy. Extreme temperatures can cause damage to the leaves. It will survive temperatures ranging from 15° F to 110° F. It will make them turn yellow or brown. And if this happens, you’ll need to remove them to relieve stress on the plant. It will allow new leaves to grow in the spring. If the temperature drops below 15, the sago may end up dying. Yet, if the trunk and leaf throne is hardwood, it may recover.
If the trunk of the sago becomes soft, it can cause severe damage. It’s best to be safe and bring your Sego Palm inside before the first frost. When temperatures are no longer below 40°F, return the Bonsai to its outdoor location in the morning. I recommend keeping your sago happy in average room temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees.
How much water does my sago palm need?
It would be best if you kept your Sago Palm well-drained and in humus-rich soil. Even though it appears to grow in every environment, ensure that your Sago Palm is above the soil line. And not in a hole or distress that retains water or is swampy. Sago Palms prefer to be on the surface rather than wet.
You will need to water your sago palm bonsai. Especially if it receives morning or afternoon sun or is in warm temperatures. If your bonsai grows in low light or at a cooler temperature, you may only need to water it every several weeks. This plant is drought resistant. Treat it as a cactus and water if almost dry.
Fertilizing sago palm bonsai
Sago palm bonsai grow in the household before it transfers from the greenhouse to the home. Don’t expect that you’ll need to fertilize your sago. Even so, you can still choose to fertilize and encourage future growth. Need to wait until your sago is fine in its new home before applying fertilizer.
Put fertilizer in your sago palm bonsai three or four times a year. Fertilize it as new growth emerges in the spring. Repeat it in late summer to assist it in adjusting to cooler temperatures. Reduce the strength of organic liquid fertilizer to half. Prevent fertilizing a weak or newly repotted plant. It will cause the roots to burn or stress.
Too little plant food is preferable for this plant. If you use organic fertilizer, ensure none of it ends up in the plant crown. But excessive fertilizer can affect the discoloration of the leaves.
Do sago palm bonsai need a lot of humidity?
Sago palm bonsai, as a tropical plant, thrives in humidity. When staying indoors requires a high level of humidity. But, you can increase the humidity around your indoor Bonsai.
Mist the leaves of the sago palm bonsai several times each day to boost humidity. Fill a shallow tray with water and pebbles. Then place the bonsai container on top of the pebbles. The evaporating water keeps the plant moist. Open the window during the daytime to improve air circulation. It will help the Bonsai maintain the humidity it requires to survive indoors.
Another option is to use a humidifier. There are many small humidifiers available. It is better because it works well and has a large capacity. So it needs to fill less frequently. You only need to refill it every other day.
Pruning sago palm bonsai tree
Since sago palm bonsai grows slowly, minimal pruning is fine. It does not need wire training to look great as a Bonsai. Regular pruning should be enough to keep your palm in shape.
You have to remove any yellow or brown leaves to prune your sago palm bonsai. Remove the leaf stalk near the trunk of the plant. Remove individual sections at the leaf’s midrib to preserve the remaining leaflets.
Cuts should be smooth or a little curved to allow the wound to recover faster. You should apply pruning paint to it if the cut surface is brown. To keep your plant looking good:
- Prune the leaves at least once every year.
- Remove immediately any yellow or brown leaves on the plant. If new leaves appear yellow or distorted, it is over or under fertilize.
- Cut them as soon as possible so your plant can produce new leaves.
When should I repot my sago palm?
Repotting of sago palm bonsai should be in spring or summer. When you notice the roots growing outside the container, repot it. These plants grow slowly. It prefers to be root-bound. When repotting, you only need to use a pot about one size larger than the previous pot.
Begin repotting by lightly trimming the roots. Afterward, remove the same amount of the lower leaves. Then give the plant plenty of water. And fertilize it after 3-4 weeks.
Pests on sago palm bonsai
Managing common sago palm bonsai pests does not have to mean the end of your plant. If you understand the issues that affect your plant, you will know how to handle them. And you’ll be well on resolving them.
Inspect the sago plant bonsai at least once a week to look for pests. Look for small insects or signs of infestation. It is sometimes rough coating on the leaves or dark spots on the roots.
Scale and mealybugs are the pests in sago palms. Mealybugs feed on plant stems and fruit. So it will cause leaf abnormalities and fruit drops. They reproduce and spread fast, so you must treat them as soon as possible. At the same time, scales are tiny and round insects with a hard shell resistant to insecticides. But they suck juices from the plants’ stems and leaves. It will cause a lack of nutrients and water in the plants.
Use insecticidal spray against the pests. Look with caution and follow the instructions on the container. Water your plant in the morning or during the coolest part of the day. Then you can already apply a treatment or spray it. There are home remedies to avoid pests. The heat, direct sunlight, and insecticide combination will cause the leaves to burn.
How to propagate sago palm?
Planting the seeds of the sago palm is the first step in propagating the sago plant. Yet, it will take nine months to germinate. So the faster way to propagate it is through eliminating the pups or offshoots. Here are the steps of propagating using the pups.
- Look for a great source of new plants that grow at the base or along the sides of full-grown sago palms.
- Use a hand trowel to burst offshoots from the trunk side or a sharp-shooter shovel to dig. And gently crow-bar bigger ones from the plant’s base. Cut off their leaves and roots. Allow it to dry for one week.
- Plant it on a sandy soil mix.
- Put the plant in a shady or bright indoor space for several months until the first leaves appear. Then you can now apply a light fertilizer and water when almost dry.
- Let the new plants form a new root system before repotting or planting in your garden or landscape. Remember that massive pup removal can be difficult on large sago with many offshoots.
Sago palm bonsai plants can grow well indoors. Although they grow slowly, they are a great plant for your home and garden. Taking care of them is very easy and simple. It does not need more time and attention. As long as you know the care guide of sago palm, they can last more decades. Always check them. But if they receive enough lighting, humidity, temperature, water, and fertilizer.
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