Sago Palm

slice4444February 12, 2014

So, yes I live up north in NYS but my hobby is growing tropical plants and trees that I bring indoors in the winter and put under grow lights. Among many plants, I have a Sago Palm that always decides to sprout new fronds when it's inside - which is a problem because the fronds stretch to reach the artificial lights and it not only looks ridiculous, but I'm sure it's hard on the plant. So once again, it is February and it is starting to grow new fronds. Is there anything I can do to get them not to stretch?

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Maybe if you cut back on the light and keep it cool, say less than 50 to 55 degrees, you could force it into a semi dormant state and slow down the growth of the new flush until the weather outside gets better. We had a sago that we kept on an unheated porch every winter until it got so big we had to plant it in the ground. It got indirect light and the temps ranged from the mid 30's to mid 60's. As soon as we put it outside in the spring it would flush.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:21AM
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I've never had it flush inside, probably because I keep it from the sun indoors. They can take really low light and minimal watering in the winter. A north facing window is fine. I think I've watered mine twice since bringing it inside in October.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:29PM
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I don't have anywhere to put it where the temperature is in that range. It's either in my house where my thermostat is set at 65 degrees, or outside at below 30 and even gets down to negative 30 at times. I wont be bringing it back outside until late May when I'm positive it won't freeze again so the "flush" can't be slowed down that long (3 months). I'm going to try and give it MORE light by putting a light source closer to it. Giving it less at this point I feel will just make it stretch more unless I put it in total darkness... And I'm afraid that will kill it. Whenever it doesn't get enough sun, it starts to turn yellow and die. As a matter of fact, it always struggles every winter. That is why I don't understand why it always chooses to "flush" when it's inside. Thanks

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 12:20PM
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If you have a garage, that would be a perfect place to keep it from flushing. I think keeping it in a dark place now will only make the stretching problem even worse because usually once it starts flushing it's not going to stop.

Good luck! I've always had this problem with Sagos.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 2:22PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Indeed, you can't stop it once it's flushing.

Here's what I use in my small greenhouse on my patio for my tropicals:

This one above seedlings and smaller plants and this one: close to the cycads and bigger plumerias. It works wonders. I give them at least 12 hours a day of this artificial sun and they love it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing light

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 3:06PM
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Once it flushes that much your not going to stop it from growing. If you have days that it isn't below 24 or so, you can bring it out and give it light. Even a few days here and there of full sun will keep it from stretching. Otherwise, you just to need to increase the light. A metal halide would work fine, but if you are trying to use a fluorescent light from a couple of feet away, that isn't going to be enough.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 10:32PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

If you're talking about what I posted above plantsman56, those are powerful CFLs, with daylight light color, and you need to have only maybe 3 feet between the bulb and the plant. My plants are thriving in the GH with those 2 bulbs from above, cycads included. Of course they also got a heater and a humidifier. They never looked better. And it's not only me that use CFLs, I took the advice of much more experimented growers, and I'm glad I did. And CFLs are not that expensive either, plus your electricity bill won't kill you, they're so energy savers!

Slice4444, try one CFL and you can return it of you don't like it. It's worth the money.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 2:38AM
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Sago, I wasn't talking about anything you sent. The original post described that the artificial light they were using wasn't strong enough, I was just a giving a suggestion on a stronger light. I agree with you on these CFLs. HD has some new ones in that are 4200 lumens and are quite bright. One of these on each side of the plant might do just fine. I am thinking they could get 6 to 12 inches from the plant though, with those. CFLs don't produce a lot of heat and since the light is half as strong a foot away from the source, and then decreases exponentially for every additional foot, it is good to keep those close. Certainly many instant options to take care of the problem.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 11:14AM
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I prevent mine from flushing by moving them into a cold garage in December and the forgetting about them till March. Too big anyway now for the house anyway. If you need to overwinter in the house, there are, in my opinion, better species for this.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 1:33PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Plantsman, you're right. I also chose CFLs with over 4200-4500 lumens (I think the bigger one has close to 5000 lumens). Sunny all day long in my GH, no matter how cloudy is outside. :)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 10:20PM
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Okay well thanks everyone for your help!

I am already using CFL plant light bulbs and it still stretches. But I'll try and put one closer to the "flush" and pull it back as it grows out.

And I can't overwinter anything in my garage - it gets too cold up here. Besides, now that the flush started, it's too late.

I have so may tropicals in my house up here in NYS and this is the only one that gives me this problem. As a matter of fact, right now I have a bird of paradise that is blooming, a prickly pear cactus that is growing new petals, a pineapple plant that is growing an actual pineapple, and for the first year ever my papaya tree is budding and I'm excited to see what happens there. All my other plants (grapefruit tree, various palms, passion fruit, dragon fruit, yucca trees, other pineapples and banana trees) aren't growing fruit or budding, but they are quite healthy! I've also had my aloe bloom before too. So the CFL lights are working. They should - I have 16 of them and two fluorescent plant light tubes that come on every day by a timer. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 6:22AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

I have a couple of my cycads in a small greenhouse under CFL lights and they flushed since I placed them in the GH. Not before, on the patio, maybe it was a bit cold in Fall or maybe the sun wasn't as strong as during summer. But once I placed all my tropicals in the GH, in less than a month these cycads started to flush, and they didn't give me any sign before, I check them on a daily basis. The new leaves look perfect, healthy, one of them has not hardened his/her flush yet, it takes longer than the other one.

This post was edited by SagoLover on Tue, Feb 18, 14 at 15:49

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 12:32PM
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that is why I mentioned the metal halides. If you'd using the CFLs already, it DOES matter what size they are and the distance from the plant material makes all the difference in the world. But, just in case, these really big CFLs I have put out 4200 lumens and use 68 watts each. A single metal halide that uses 400 watts gives off 36000 lumens and also gives off some heat that warms up the area. Those don't use a huge amount of electricity. Even though I would think a 1000 watt MH would be overkill that would give out around 110,000 lumens which is almost like daylight.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 7:35PM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Your electricity bill will never look the same with that wattage... :D

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 12:22AM
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