Sago Palm Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Cycas Revoluta”

Read our guide to Sago Palm trees for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Cycas revoluta”
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The sago palm is a beautiful palm tree that can fit inside of your home. The Cycas revoluta is a slow-growing plant that has attractive green fronds. It loves cooler climates and thrives as a houseplant thanks to its love of cooler temperatures. The sago palm is found natively in warm parts of Japan and is a very slow-growing plant.

It typically will only produce a single new frond or leaf every year. The foliage of this plant is very attractive which makes it a popular choice among home gardeners.

The leaves tend to grow in a symmetrical ring with foliage that is similar to feathers. If you want a larger sago palm, then you can plant it in your yard. For miniature sago palm plants, then keep them confined to a container.

This perennial shrub loves the sun but can also survive in partial shade with no complications. Being a subtropical plant, it is a good idea to maintain soil that has a constant level of medium moisture.

If you live in a cooler climate, you can still cultivate a sago palm for indoor use. Any temperature below 20 degrees however will result in frost and plant death. Extreme fluctuations in the weather are also harmful to the Japanese sago palm. Fertilizing is only needed once a month. A slow-release fertilizer can be used two or three times during the warmer months as well. Just make sure to use a liquid fertilizer formulated for house plants.

Sago Palm tree
Sago Palm tree

About the Sago Palm

  • The botanical name of the Sago palm is Cycas revoluta.
  • The sago plant is technically a cycads.
  • A mature Japanese sago plant can grow as high as 10 feet.
  • Mature Sago palms have a moderate amount of drought tolerance.
  • The sago palms are subtropical plants that love the heat.
  • These plants generate seeds, however, they won’t flower or produce fruit.
  • Sago palm plants are highly toxic to animals and humans.

Sago Palm Features: An Overview

  • Sago palm plants are not true palm trees.
  • The Cycas revoluta features long green fronds that resemble palm fronds.
  • Cycas revoluta plants are native to Japan and are tropical plants.
  • The Cycas revoluta grows very slowly producing one new leaf per year.
  • The sago palm is also known as the Japanese sago or the king sago.
  • The nuts of the sago palm are extremely toxic for humans and animals.
  • A mature king sago plant can get as wide as three feet in diameter.
  • The ideal soil p.H for the sago plant is 5.5 to 6.5

Growing The Sago Palm

One of the best things about Sago Palms is that they are easy to grow as well as easy to care for. There are a few things that you will need to keep in mind regarding their care, but their overall maintenance is hassle-free.

Make sure that you keep your Japanese sago in an environment that has plenty of warmth and a generous amount of light. Avoid direct or harsh sunlight because it may damage the leaves. Like most tropical plants it loves humid conditions which you can maintain by misting or adding a humidifier to the room.

Cycas Revoluta
Cycas Revoluta

The Japanese sago grows quite slow so you will only need to upgrade its pot once every three to four years. When you do move the plant into a bigger pot, it is best to do so in the spring. Be very careful as the roots are sensitive to temperature changes. Make sure to add fresh soil when changing the pot to encourage healthy growth. The soil used for the sago palm should be well-draining with a generous mix of horticulture sand.

This will prevent root rot that is caused by overwatering. An unglazed terra cotta planter is a great choice as it allows water to evaporate instead of sitting in the soil where it can damage the plant roots. The Japanese sago plant grows well in any well-draining soil. You can add sand or organic matter to boost its growth if needed. The ideal pH is neutral to slightly acidic. Although this sago palm is not a true palm, you can also use a potting mix specifically formulated for palm plants.

Watering The Sago Palm

Watering the Japanese sago plant is not complicated, but you must be careful not to overwater it. Like most plants, standing water or soggy soil will lead to root rot. If left untended, root rot can cause the sago palm to die.

Use well-draining soil and a pot that has medium to large size drainage holes to prevent sogginess. It is best to allow the surface of the soil to dry before watering the plant again, but do not let the soil get completely dry.

Mature Sago palms have a general amount of drought tolerance, but it is best to maintain some level of moisture in the soil. If the soil is dry to the touch, it is a good time to add water. Just make sure not to overwater the plants and drown the roots. In the winter months, you should allow the soil to get slightly dryer before watering.

They love humidity but can tolerate short periods of cold. Avoid placing the plant in front of vents or other sources of air to prevent dehydration.

sago palm trees growing in the backyard
Sago Palm trees growing in the backyard

Propagating The Sago Palm

Propagating the Sago Palm plant is much more time consuming that growing the plant itself. They are grown from seed, but the germination process is difficult, length, and not always successful. The sago palm can also be propagated through the process of division. As a sago plant matures, it will develop clusters at its base that can be split off into new plants.

These clusters should be cut from the mature plant in the spring. Use a very sharp knife, or gardens scissors to remove the cluster, just make sure to leave a generous number of roots attached to each cutting.

Sago Palm, From Amazon

Unlike other cuttings, these will need to rest and heal before they are potted. The sago palm cuttings should be allowed to rest in a shaded area for the cuts to heal over. Once the cuts have healed, place them in new pots of fresh well-draining soil.

If you have a home that has bright lights and a warm atmosphere, the sago palm will thrive. You can cultivate these plants outdoors in the ground for larger bushes, or in pots indoors for a mini palm getaway. They thrive in bright but indirect light so make sure to plant them on the side of your home that faces away from the morning sun.

For indoor plants, simply place them in a brightly lit room, but out of the direct path of the sun. It is important to watch both new sago palm plants and mature palm plants for signs of overwatering or scale infestations.

In Conclusion

The sago palm is a great choice for those just getting into plant care or those who are looking for an easy to maintain addition to their garden. The Cycas revoluta can grow outside or inside depending on your local climate.

They are generally easy to care for but do require an ample amount of light to thrive. Too much moisture is damaging for the Cycas revoluta, so make sure to always use well-draining soil when potting this false palm.

The entire sago plant and the nuts that the plant produces are toxic if eaten. If you have small children or pets, pay special attention and seek emergency help if you suspect it has been ingested.

Like most houseplants, the sago palm can be infested by spider mites and scale bugs, but aside from these, they are relatively immune to pests. Check the leaves occasionally for brown spots which signal an infestation. You can treat this with a natural insecticide which will kill the bugs without harming the plant.

Let your plant dry out a bit before watering it again and fertilize them on a regular basis. They are a long-lived plant, some living for several decades. Some Cycas revoluta can take as long as 15 years to bloom when housed in a pot. Those planted outside will bloom every three years once they have reached maturity.

They are generally problem-free, but if you notice yellow leaves during the growing season, chances are the palm is not getting enough nutrients. A regular houseplant fertilizer is best and make sure that you are not drowning the roots. Your home or yard will benefit aesthetically by adding this easy to handle plant to your collection.


Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at or follow on twitter

1 Comment

  1. David R White Reply

    I live in West Alabama. A couple years ago Lowes had lots of Sago Palms for sale. I bought one myself and one for our daughter who lives in Florida. Dummy me, I should have known they come up and thrive like weeds in Florida. One trip to her home, I passed a house that had one at least 8 ft. in diameter in the front yard. Mine did until recently. I failed to take it in, it pretty big now, and the sub 20 degree temps we just had in Feb 2021 may have done it in. The main limbs are green at their base, about 3-6″ of them. If I cut the limbs back down to there, will it it survive. Such a beautiful plant. I feel so dumb for letting it get killed.

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