Can Sago palm pups be separated from mother plant?

roselee z8b S.W. TexasMay 26, 2008

Has anyone here successfully separated Sago palm pups from the mother plant?

Years ago I heard Manuel Flores say that Sago palms were such a primative plant, being practically unchanged since the day of the dinosaurs, that their vascular system would not heal from a major wound and the pup and mother plant would become infected and die, but a friend told me that she has separated them and they were fine. She has sandy soil if that makes any difference.

I have always cut the fronds back from these pictured below.

But I'd like to separate a couple of the pups and plant them elsewhere if possible so if anyone here has been successful, or not successful, in accomplishing a division please let me know how to proceed ... or not.

How deep do the roots go? This is hard packed soil here and not easy to dig.

Thank you!

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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

Yes, they can be separated and transplanted. I don't do mine because they prick my arms and legs, and it's very uncomfortable. Here is some information on removing the pups.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 12:48PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

ltcollins, thank you for the great link! Yes, they are prickly alright! Anyway I'll wait for winter, wear a thick shirt, and then go ahead with it.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 1:34PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

This is good info to have, my sago in a container has five pups, and I would dearly like to separate them from the mother plant. Guess, like you Roselee, I shall wait until winter now.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 10:58PM
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I have better luck, doing the separating in the spring. In the winter the soil is too moist and they do not do as well, and I lost half of them. I use a sharp shooter shovel, and lay backwards next to the pup, and just push, and the pup will pop off. On the older ones, you may have to use an axe, since they are apart of the plant. Don't worry, they will grow roots. I have one plant( that is planted in the sun) that always has pups. Plants in the shade do not multiply as fast.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 8:44AM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Thanks for the tip! Nice to know you did it and didn't lose the mother plant.

Hope I don't have to use an ax and it just pops off, but they are old so may have to. I have used a little narrow saw to saw big roots off something I was trying to dig out so maybe, just maybe, that might work.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 12:48PM
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I watched a gardening show on cycads the other day and he recommended pouring fungicide over the cut to help it heal.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 1:19PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Now that's interesting! Any clue what kind of fungicide to use?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 2:34PM
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He had something mixed up in a watering can and poured it over his tools and the cuts. He didn't say what it was but I have started using wettable sulfur powder on my brugs when one gets broken and I noticed it seals up the would and keeps it from getting that rotting down the stem if I do it right away. Its what we used to use on potatoes when we would cut them in chunks with the eyes growing to keep them from rotting when we wanted to make new plants.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 3:46PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Thanks loads Kristy! That gives us a good idea of how to proceed.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 5:23PM
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Glad to help. The ones Barbra sent me are doing great and leafing out nicely. I love those things.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 12:08AM
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We have two giant sagos. About six feet tall and probably at least 12 feet or more diameter. There are many, many pups on each one. We need to harvest these as they are now encroaching on the driveway and we don't want to damage either the sagos or our cars. The link to potting them is intersting. I've always been afraid to take a sharpshooter to them but we're ready to try. We live about an hour west of Houston and have very sandy soil. Is this a bad time of year to cut the pups? Must they always be potted to save them or could we plant them directly into the soil, and if so, what is the best method to plant them and nurse them along?
Ken. Bellville, TX

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 10:10PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

My sago palms are that large as well. I'm looking forward to harvesting several pups from them next winter or spring. All I know about it is what's written above and from the informative site passed along by ltcollins. Maybe someone else will pass along their experiences and can answer your questions.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 6:57PM
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I just took pups from a large mother plant.

The easy ones pop off by just pushing them horizontally from one side. I used heavy bar with a bicycle handlebar grip against the pup to keep from damaging it. someof them I had to use the bar to pry them from the trunk.

For the tough ones, I used a reciprocating saw, AKA 'Sawsall', with a long wood cutting blade, but a hand saw will do too. I cut fron the top of where the pup meets the trunk at an angle towards the trunk. The angle is basically splitting the "V" between the side of the pup and the trunk in half. While cutting, you will see the pup nudge loose, that's far enough. You don't want to cut too deep into the mother trunk. then just push them off. I start with the upper ones first and work towards the base of the tree and continue this way all the way around the tree. If there are any pups grong out of the ground around the mother Sego, just dig under it and cut away the part the attaches it to the mother.

If the fronds get in your way, clip them off. You will be clipping them off anyway for potting as many suggest. I only clipped the old fronds at first. I will clip the rest as they begin to die off after potting. I just like how they look and I think they get energy from the sun. That's just my opinion, I am not an expert.

You may want to let them scab over before planting so you don't have to deal with fungicide. And be sure to let them dry a little between watering. The ones I have that survived from last year's harvest were allowed to dry out completely several times during the year. I don't know that the rest didn't survive. They may still be strugling to develop.

I have five good plants out of about 15 pups. This year I got them from a different plant and some are huge. One came from the base and already has roots on it. hopefully the fronds one that one will make it. If you would like to find out, send me an email next year, I don't know if I will remember to post here again.

Good luck and happy planting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Taft PC Services

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 5:27AM
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good advice, I have raised several hundred pups, always let them dry off for a month or so befor planting cut all fronds off trim all damaged roots have fun Allen

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 7:17AM
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Question: Is there a pup size limit when cutting from the mother sago? A neighbor has asked me to separate some rather large pups. Is there a need to cover the place of detachment with some kind of chemical?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 4:25PM
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I feel like a dummy but just exactly what IS a pup? Is it a large looking seed or is it the smaller 'shoots' (mini palms) that come up around the base of a mature plant. If it's the latter, can they be planted immediately or do you have to let them dry off as well?

Someone told me if I removed the 'mini palms' growing around the base it would kill the mama & the babies!

I surely don't want to do that but there are about 40 of them growing around the 2 trees on each side of my drive. They're about 12' tall & about 30 years old.

Blessings & happy green thumbs!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 4:21PM
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I separated several large pups March 2011. I have one that has sprouted (September) in a small pot. Should I winter it in the same pot in our sunroom, a bigger pot or plant it?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 9:48PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Sorry Merci Rose didn't receive a reply to the question she posed in April. The 'pups' are the little palms that come up from the sides of the mother palm and they can be separated.

Cathy, I think I'd be inclined to overwinter the new sprout inside just to be sure it survives in case we have another extra cold winter. Perhaps some others might have some personal experience concerning this.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 10:02AM
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lou_texas(8a N Central TX)

My large, much-loved sago didn't make it through last winter, but 3 of her pups did! Go figure.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 3:00PM
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When I was at Lowes 3 weeks ago, there was an older couple checking out. The lady was talking about the sago palm she wanted. I told her if she would come to my house, and bring a shovel, she could have all the pups she wanted. They were at my house within an hour, with the shovel. I showed her how to get the first pup, then they were on their own. They got some nice large pups, I never could get them that clean, they looked almost like a bulb with no white showing. I showed her how to remove all the leaves and only plant with 1/2 of the bulb in the sand, water and forget about it. When it starts to put on new leaves, it has rooted. Last year we used the truck to pop off the big ones. Took them to Finack's Nursery, he gave me $15 credit for each one that rooted. I went in the spring and used the credit to buy all my spring plants, it was like supermarket sweep. I do my pups in the spring, the nursery had a hugh greenhouse, so he was able to root them during the winter. He said they all rooted except one. Barbra

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 9:15PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

We had a house for 5 years with a 2 big sagos. I just used a crowbar and pried the pups away from the mamma. sometimes I had to dig the dirt away from the base to find where they connected. The people we bought the house from told us that was how they did it. I thought the plants looked nicer without all the pups sprouting up along the bottom so it just became part of my yearly maintenance.

most of the pups were softball sized (seen that size at selling between $15 - $25). Wish i had thought about taking them to a nursery for credit... that's brilliant!
I potted a few as gifts, but sent most to the landfill with my trash.

My mom got one of the first pups I potted (7 years ago now). It appered dead after the freeze this past winter, all soft and squishy in the middle. then in July 3 small leaves popped up around the base of the plant. so a "dead" sago can grow pups?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 9:01PM
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We got a large sago about 5 years ago from lowes on clearance. It was marked down to $50 from $150. It survived for about a year but the fronds started yellowing and we really thought it was a goner so we took it out of its pot and tossed it on a scrap pile of yard waste. I first cut all the yellowed fronds off before tossing it aside. I'm pretty sure it even spent the winter outside on the scrap heap (here in NJ it shouldn't survive the winter). I could not believe my eyes when the following spring it was sprouting new green growth on the scrap pile! We repotted it and it is doing really well now, its huge again, and even has 3 little pups, which is what brought me to this page because I'd like to try separating. I'm nervous about trying to separate the pups because I've read how fragile Sagos can be...then again, we may just have "super sago"! Now we put it in the garage over the winter but take it out on nicer winter days since it can handle a little bit of cold.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 6:32PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Jem72, that's really a remarkable experience with your Sago palm. Thanks for telling us about it. I didn't know Sagos were so eager to live.

There are several interesting sago survival stories on this thread.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 6:50PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I have found that they are fragile once established but I find seperating the pups easy. I just can't seem to move them successfully once they have their roots down.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 12:46PM
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I have 2 pups from a friends plant from her yard. They both had leaves on them. I let them sit for a few weeks and rain got on them a few times.

I planted them in the yard and the leaves started turning yellow, plus I found out that I planted them too deep.
So, I pulled them up, allowed them to dry out for another couple of weeks, I thought they may be rotted or dead, but I felt them and the core is still very hard, not soft at all. I sprinkled rooting powder on the bottom, and planted them correctly in the right size pot. I did not water. I placed them in mostly shady area of the yard.

My question is should I have cut off the yellow fonds??
Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks a lot everyone!!!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 6:26PM
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To be honest, sago pups don't really transplant well in winter. The best advice I can give is to make sure the ends that go in the ground are very dry. Don't overwater and make sure they don't get too cold.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 6:52PM
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Thanks for your advice!

I live in Los Angeles, where we are praying for rain. The winter thus far has been very mild. Days are mostly 70's or warmer. Go figure!

To be safe, and taking your advice in account, perhaps I need to bring them inside and place in the outdoor, enclosed patio. I have also placed a large plastic bag over each plant (who said to do that? LOL!), but maybe that is not good either.

I am praying that these pups make it because the mother plant has been growing with great health and beauty for over 30 years!

If/when I get new growth I will post a photo!
Thanks again~

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 7:17PM
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Oh well Southern California is very different than the cold weather we're having in Texas. I misunderstood. As long as there isn't any rot and the pup stays firm I'm sure it will do fine.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 9:28PM
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All I can do is hope :)
Should I cut off the leaves or just leave them alone. They are about 8 inches long but most of them have turned yellow. There is still about 25% green on the leaves.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 10:07PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

I'm leaving the yellowed leaves on my Sago palms until spring. When the new fronds emerge I'll remove the damaged ones. In the meantime the small amount of green that's left will allow photosynthesis to continue and feed the plant.

This post was edited by roselee on Sun, Feb 9, 14 at 20:10

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 11:58AM
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