How to Care for the Sago Palm


Sago palm (Cycas revoluta) is a member of the Cycadaceae family and not a true palm, even though the leaves resemble palm fronds. Sago palms are sometimes referred to as sage palms, king sago, funeral palm and Japanese sago palm. Native to the southernmost islands of Japan, sago palms grow best in USDA zones 8b through 11outside or in containers in other areas. Caring for sago palms begins at planting and requires patience for this long-lived, slow-growing evergreen shrub.

Step 1

Plant your sago palm in a location providing full sun to partial shade and sandy, well-draining soil. Allow enough room for the full size of the plant, as they reach over 10 feet tall with 4- to 8-foot spreads.

Step 2

Dig a hole the same depth of the container or root ball and twice as wide. Place your sago palm in hole, backfill and saturate with water to settle soil around sago palm’s roots.

Step 3

Water the sago palm with 1 inch of water weekly, if the top few inches of soil is dry. Allow the top 1 inch to dry for potted plants. Water your sago palm less often during the winter.

Step 4

Cover the area with 3 to 4 inches of mulch (leaf mold or bark). Keep the mulch away from the trunk and extend it out annually, as needed, to cover the drip-zone of the sago palm.

Step 5

Apply a fertilizer, such as 6-2-0 in the spring and again at the end of summer. Follow the package instructions, and remember it is better to apply less fertilizer than more.

Step 6

Remove spent fronds and any offsets appearing around the trunk, if needed.

Tips and Warnings

  • All parts of the sago palm are poisonous.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • University of Arizona: Cycas Revoluta
  • University of Florida: Cycas Revoluta
  • Floridata: Cycas Revoluta
  • Growing Guides: Growing Sago Palms

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinois Extension: Sago Palm Cycas Revoluta
  • North Carolina University: Poisonous Plants: Cycas Revoluta
Keywords: Cycas revoluta, grow sago palm, caring for sago

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.