Bread plants are prehistoric plants called the sago palm or Cycas revoluta, according to University of Illinois Extension. The cycad family of plants has been around for over 200 millions years, and its direct descendant is the bread plant. The bread plant is a dioecious plant, meaning it produces both male and female plant parts. The male part is torpedo shaped, while the female part is cabbage shaped. Flowers emerge from the center of the plant. When viewed from the side, the plant has the profile of a bread loaf, leading to the plant's common name.
The bread plant requires a tropical to subtropical climate to survive. In northern parts of the United States the plant is limited to indoor growth. The bread plant grows well in the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 8 to 10. It grows well in a temperature between 60 and 85 degrees F, according to the Plant Care website. It requires a medium humidity range.
General purpose potting soil works well for bread plants grown indoors. Sand or perlite may be required as a soil additive if the soil is packed too tightly. To make your own potting soil, mix together equal parts garden soil, coarse sand or perlite, and moist peat or humus (leaf mold) with a light dusting of lime. Make sure the plant container has a good drainage hole. A well-draining soil is required for outdoor growth.
The bread plant requires a small amount of fertilizer to survive due to its slow growth. Slow-release fertilizer or diluted liquid fertilizers applied according to the packaging instructions are the best to use. Over-fertilization will damage the sensitive roots of the plant. Apply a slow-release granular fertilizer in the early spring.
Mealy bugs and scale are the few pests or diseases that affect the bread plant. Inspect the plant during purchase and regularly check the tops and bottoms of leaves for infestation. Remove bugs with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Place the bread plant in an area that receives bright light to full sun. A semi-shaded area will work for the palm as well, where it will produce larger leaves and reduce the production of new leaves. Too much shade will inhibit growth.