Sago's in pit yellowing

rocks911August 3, 2012

I live in the Dallas area and have a couple of sagos in pots that I've had for 4 years now. I winter them in my garage. In summers past the Sagos would yellow during the summer but I could never exactly figure out why.

This year they are yellowing quite quickly. The foliage is new growth this spring and its already yellowing.

I alternate between thinking they are watered too much and not enough. They are in well drained pots and the water pretty much just flows through so they dont stay wet very long. They are on my patio in direct sun and lately its been about 110 degrees out there.

Are they too dry?

Any thoughts are appreciated

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Obviously I meant "pot"
My vision is going to the dogs!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 9:37AM
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Multiple problems, I believe.

1. Soil--Is your soil holding water? After watering does it feel moist at all? Some soils, especially those containing peat will bake in the sun and rather than retain water become hydrophobic, resisting moisture. Cycads want excellent drainage but they need water in the summer. How frequently do you water? It also can do with a bigger pot, sooner rather than later.

2. Too hot, too sunny. These plants are native to subtropical islands where it never gets to 110 F. I've lived in South Florida in high summer, your sun is stronger! Dallas' conditions very different from South Florida where they can grow in full sun...just much more humid..hazy..cloudy and showery in S. Fl.. Can you give it some shading from the hottest sun of the day, even partial? Dappled sun is fine.

Good news is that it is not over for your plant, these guys can virtually rise from the dead! :)

P.S. I also overwinter mine in a garage.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 10:48AM
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looks like typical sun burn to me.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 12:11PM
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LagoMar(USDA 8/AHS 7)

It would handle Dallas heat if it were in the ground but in a pot its too hot. Root damage is my theory.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 2:00PM
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"It would handle Dallas heat if it were in the ground but in a pot its too hot. Root damage is my theory."

Which is one of the reasons I suggested a bigger container (more insulated from heat). Not sure it cold hardy to Dallas, if it is, still think a somewhat more shaded (therefore moister) area would be quite helpful.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 2:46PM
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Mine did the same thing for the first time this spring.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 4:33PM
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I water them a couple times a week. I just dont understand why they did so well for the first 3 years and now they struggle, except of course maybe the need to replant.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 12:51PM
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A couple of times a week for watering is not enough if the temps are 110f.. If you upgrade to a larger container, use a well draining soil and then water every day at those temps.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 6:28PM
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I have sagos in the ground and did have a couple of smaller ones in pots some time back. Those in pots got to where they looked similar to those in your picture. After they were planted in the ground they greened up and never had another problem. As fars as cold tolerance my sagos have survived winter cold as low as 15 degree weather. When it got that cold I did cover them with a blanket.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 2:59PM
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I wanted to follow up and say that the correct answer was "sun burn", thanks lzrddr. I moved them out of the afternoon sun and over the course of a couple of months they have completely recovered with no discoloration or damage.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 9:09AM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

Trying to figure out if my sago in the ground near our pond (so, in farily consistently moist soil) is also in too much sun? It does get direct, hot summer sun for much of the day and it has turned form a beautiful green to a sickly brown. Don't want to give up and toss it but do I move it to more shade? Do I plant it in less moist-retentive soil? I have been trying to read and I am reading conflicting viewpoints (plant in full sun/remove from full sun; water often; requires soil that dries out . . .) HELP!!!!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 8:41AM
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joraines Sagos love full sun so I doubt that's the problem. Are all the leaves turning brown or just a few spots here and there? Pics would help.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:13AM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

Thanks for your prompt reply. I am almost ashamed to take a pic of it as it looks like a horrendous case of neglect, stupidity or out and out murder. But I intend to just go for broke and cut all of the bad (brown/beige) leaves off and see if the trunk part is soft or if it seems still viable. I will take pix before I do that--either completely finishing it off or 'saving' it. Most everything else we have planted is doing well. We seem to have let this one down.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:18AM
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Sagos are very resilient so you may be able to save it. It can be cold damage or maybe too much moisture (poor soil drainage) or fungal but hard to say with out seeing.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:32AM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

Here is my poor Sago Palm. Not sure if it is getting too much hot summer sun, too much moisture, too little fertilizer, too much winter cold (though it started turning brown before winter hit. Thanks for any suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:56PM
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Oh your poor Sago... Sorry I haven't been back on the board to help you. Good news is that it looks like it can be saved. Couple things... first check for Asian scale (white spots on the leaves). Scale sucks the nutrients out of the leaves turning them brown. Should be easy to spot, this would be a heavy infestation. 2nd palms do not like wet feet. That pond looks close but I can't determine the slope. You should dig a hole about 2 feet deep and about 3 feet from your sago parallel to the pond. Do this to test the dampness of the soil. (water levels go up/down) If the soil is not wet or mucky your good. Finally and probably the most obvious is there is a nutritional difficiency. Magnesium or Manganese is highly likely. Do the first 2 ideas to assess the situation. If the palm is in a bad spot it will need to be dug up and replanted under better conditions (raised bed, amended soil, or relocated) More than likely the fertilzer with Magnesium/Manganese will do the trick but no sense doing that if there are other issues. Then you will cut off all the brown leaves, but leave all the green.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 4:44PM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

Thank you for all the great tips. I have seen no discernable white spots but will check again. I think it's a combination of too-moist soil as you say and the lack of nutrients. We will find a more suitable spot for it and move it and fertilze it to try to save it. I so appreciate your taking the time to help me! I hate to 'kill' a plant and, obviously, am an amateur gardener. i thoght the Sago would look so pretty beside the pond but obviously, it doesn't like it there!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 6:55AM
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Please don't takethis wrong. I am not saying don't plant them, I am just saying be careul, be informed before it's too late. Be careful with animals and children. Had I known when I bought my house with it's huge Sago Palms, things would have been different.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sago Palm Kill. Lucky's Story

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 11:38PM
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joraines(7 Upstate SC)

Alyx_c, I know what you are saying. We had a stray puppy 'adopt' us and I had a 'Mother in Law's Tongue' plant on the back porch. She chewed everything and when she chewed that, it killed her. I cried and cried and cried though I really wanted to find her a different home as I have my one spoiled dog. I am aware some plants are very poisonous. I have Castor Bean seeds and also plan to buy an Angel Trumpet this spring--both highly poisonous. I watch my dog like a hawk and any children who come around, I am hyper-vigilant though all of our children are grown or almost there and we have no grand's yet. I think you can have plants that are poisonous but you must watch children and pets always. Thank you for the reminder, however. I had no idea the 'snake plant' was poisonous until that poor little puppy ate it and died. So tragic. Still makes me sad.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 7:49AM
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