Sick Sago Palm - Droopy Fronds

KiminHoustonSeptember 12, 2012

Hi. I have two Sago palms (maybe 8-10 years old?) next to each other in my yard. One is in a pot and the other is in the ground. The fronds on the potted one have become very droopy over the last week - and they are very flexible where they attach to the base; I can move them up and down a lot. The color still looks OK though. A few days ago I started watering it a lot (daily) thinking it was drying out. Upon further investigation, there was standing water in the pot and it was not draining properly. I've since fixed this (removed water / made sure it's draining) but I'm wondering if it might have root rot or if there may be other cause for this behavior. Pics attached. Any ideas / suggestions about what to check and how to mitigate / restore would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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bradleyo_gw

I'm thinking there's nothing wrong with it. It looks as if it is about to flush. The fronds will naturally "bow down" for the new flush although that is pretty extreme. Maybe it's due to the size of the plant? Also, I've never seen a sago flower before, but I've seen them in flower and the fronds bend down like that as well.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 4:49PM
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ericthehurdler(NOR CAL 9a)

its very healthy! it looks like its about to produce a cone. the cone is similar to a flower but much more primitive. you should start to notice the center of the plant growing more bulbous and round.

if you just google" Cycad cones" you will see the same droopy fronds with a cone in the middle.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 5:49PM
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prinbama(Alabama 7b-8a)

I think your ok. the palm is very healthy. So dont worry about anything.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 6:01PM
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prinbama(Alabama 7b-8a)

I think your ok. the palm is very healthy. So dont worry about anything.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 6:08PM
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KiminHouston

Thank you everyone!! Your messages are reassuring, so I will wait for a little while before taking any drastic action like removing from its pot to investigate roots.

I've seen them flush a bunch of times in the 4 years but the fronds have never dropped like this. However, I don't recall cones or flowers so perhaps I'm in for a treat! Anyone know if it's normal for the fronds to be very flexible at the base during this stage? I can take one and raise it up and down through a wide range of motion...

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 6:35PM
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orchiddude(+7b ALabama)

Yes its ok, just let it do its thing. Dont take out of pot.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 9:54AM
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KiminHouston

Hi all. About 3 weeks have passed and my palm seems to be increasingly yellow compared to the one next to it. It's definitely draining well so I don't think that's the problem. New pics attached. I'm thinking it's time to remove it from the pot and do some root inspection / repair? Opinions / advice would be most welcome!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:36PM
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KiminHouston

Another pic for comparison.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 12:37PM
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lzrddr(91360)

The new exposure position of the leaves has likely put them in more direct sun exposure, causing the yellowing.... or perhaps they leaves are getting old and going to die now, making room for new leaves to replace them. Not necessarily a sign of anything wrong, though.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 6:25PM
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orchiddude(+7b ALabama)

Looks like you might get a flush soon.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:26PM
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KiminHouston

Just as a wrapup...I unpotted and placed into the ground. The roots were for the most part healthy but all VERY moist - and definitely root bound. I honestly think I may have temporarily drowned it leading to this behavior. Going to leave it in the ground for a while to see what happens and will post what I learn. But at this point I'm pretty sure what's happening with the fronds isn't normal.

Is it OK to prune the fronds completely and wait for new growth? (Will give it some weeks before I do that...just curious).

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:47PM
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lzrddr(91360)

if healthy, it is rarely a problem to hack off all the leaves on one of these... though sometimes, if you do it before a flush, you can end up with a naked trunk for a while (I transplanted one that took over a year to flush... but was fine once it did).

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 5:21PM
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LagoMar(USDA 8/AHS 7)

I have never had good luck trimming leaves before the new flush. It makes the plant susceptible to bugs and disease. I'd wait for the new flush. I agree with you that the reason for the yellowing was probably being rootbound. It will be much happier in the ground.

Here is a link that might be useful: Virginia Beach Weather

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 11:39PM
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tropicbreezent

It's not unusual for Cycas species to drop all their fronds and then flush with a new lot. Mine (C. revoluta) is doing that now with the new flush happening before all the old fronds have fallen, although they're yellow/brown. The C. revoluta don't seem so regular in the way they do it. My Cycas armstrongii and xipholepis are more regular and are also getting their new flushes now. Just make sure you're getting good drainage and all should be well.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 1:28AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

How tall can Sagos grow? I've done some research and I couldn't find this info.
TIA.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 11:43PM
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theseventhlegend

I've seen some ol' timers Revoluta 15ft but they can probably get a bit bigger.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 9:56AM
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tropicalzone7(7b)

They can definitely get in the 15-20 foot range. Other similar looking cycads can look almost like date palms when they are older because of how large they get, but they take a lot of years to get to those heights. I've seen 20 year old specimens only about 6-8 feet tall, they make pups so if it ever does get too big you can cut the mother plant down, or dig it up and replant one of the pups in the spot.
-Alex

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 1:45AM
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sagolover(10a SoCal)

Wow, they can grow quite big, comparing to how small they start and how slow they grow. Thanks for the details. Any pictures of such old/big Sagos?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 2:29AM
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