zamia furfuracea pruning

TT, zone 5b MAFebruary 16, 2011

Hi -

I have been keeping a potted zamia furfuracea (relatively small...has 6 leaves now) in my unheated garage during this winter (along with all of my other cycads). I have taken it in recently, and situated it in my sunroom.

I noticed that many of the lower leaflets have started to dry out a bit, and there is also some discoloration on a couple of the leaflets on the upper leaves. I am hoping that this is from getting a bit too chilled in my garage (though the lowest I saw the temps get in there this winter was in the low 30s... never hit freezing). Hopefully, it is nothing more insidious than that.

So, now that it is in my warmer sunroom (50s at night, up to the low to mid 70s day now) would it be okay to remove the dried out leaves? I have done this with Zamia integrifolia, Cycas revoluta and Encephalartos horridus in the past, with great success (sometimes for aesthetics, sometimes to get a fresh set of leaves). Typically, the plant sits for a while...then starts pushing growth as the weather warms and light levels increase.

Can I expect the same from this plant, or should I wait until more toward spring? Even as spring arrives in my neck of the woods, I do not see this plant getting outside until late April to May at the earliest, and my sunroom gets warmer and brighter from this point on...

Thanks for any advice!


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TT, zone 5b MA

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 8:52PM
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I have repeatedly tried to overwinter the same species in my UNDER-heated garage. And while I have had repeated successes with Dioon, Cycas revoluta, and a species of Encephalartos, I have had repeated failures with Z. furfuracea. Mine went into decline despite the lack of real frost (just sustained very chilly temperatures). I overwinter mine in the basement now under artificial light. I would leave the leaves on it though. Good luck with it.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 5:42AM
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TT, zone 5b MA

nj -

Glad I am not alone (but sorry for your misfortune!) on this plant. Assuming I do not lose it, I will know for next winter.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 6:27AM
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That is not necessarily cold damage. If it were, it should be evident on all the leaves not only the lower ones.

It could also be that the plant is recycling existing nutrients and in the process older leaves are sacrificed.

I have seen this happen on plants that may be too small to withstand an extended dormant period, or if there is too long of a dormant period where the plant is not given an opportunity to avail itself of nutrients in the soil.

A cycad caudex typically has a great capacity for storage of water and starch. A leafless plant can be maintained that way for a very long time. However, leaf support requires more than just sugar and water. Nutrients are needed for homeostasis.

Zamias are more "tropical" than other cycad genera and so maybe are not as well equipped physiologically to cope with a long, cold, dry period. Encephalartos species on the other hand don't even blink in the same scenario.

Now that it is in a warmer and sunnier spot, feed and water the way you normally would, and soon enough new leaves will grow and replace the old ones. Do not cut off anything that still has green in it.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 2:14PM
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Except for aesthetics sake I would not hesitate to cut any or all Zamia furfuracea leaves at any time in its existence, though to cut off a full head of green, happy leaves in summer when it's getting a lot of sun would be a shame... but I have never seen this hurt the plant. I often give mine a brutal 'hair cut' if it's getting too leafy and I have not had a problem with doing so... I would be more apt to do if it were cold, too, as it sounds like when it's cold your plant is getting no sun shine at all and the leaves are only 'dead weight' in terms of energy for the plant... It might even make the plant fare better over a dark, dry period. If you plan to overwinter your plant like that again, I would hack of all its leaves next time and have it remain leafless over the winter.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 6:09PM
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TT, zone 5b MA seeing all my C and S friends on the P and C forum... I think there is a common affection for both in a lot of people, no?

Well, I'm going leafless...sitting her under a nice warm spot where the sun is starting to mix in with with my HIDs (yes, the sun is starting to sneak back into my sunroom!)...and waiting for spring to bounce her back.

Thanks, all.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2011 at 8:21PM
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