How to Plant a Cycad


Cycads are a "Jurassic Park" type of ancient plants that are related to pine trees but are often called sago palms (Cycas revoluta is one common species). As one of the oldest seed-producing plants on earth, cycads add an attractive look and tropical feel to both indoor and outdoor landscapes. If you live in USDA climate zone 9 or higher (Houston to Honolulu), and your winter temperatures stay above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow a cycad outdoors year-round. If your winters are colder, grow it as a potted plant, which you can keep outside during the warmer months and bring indoors in winter.

Planting a Cycad Indoors or Out

Step 1

Mix 1 or 2 cups of humus or compost to each gallon of potting soil you need to fill a large container. Plant your cycad so its base sits slightly above the level of the potting soil mixture to ensure your plant receives good drainage.

Step 2

Dig a hole outdoors twice as large as the root ball if you live in a warm climate zone. Add one shovelful of sand and one shovelful of humus or compost and mix well with the soil you dug out. Fill in the hole with the sandy soil so your cycad's crown rises above the soil surface by 1 inch.

Step 3

Provide your cycad with bright, indirect sunlight, whether you choose to grow it indoors or outdoors.

Step 4

Water your cycad infrequently because most members of this plant family prefer to dry out between waterings. It will probably need more water in summer than in winter.

Step 5

Keep the humidity around your cycad at about 50 percent or higher. If you keep a humidity meter near your plant and check it periodically, you'll be able to monitor the humidity. If it drops below 50 percent, give your plant a fine mist of water, and repeat this procedure every day if needed. If the humidity is high, all the better.

Things You'll Need

  • Deep pot (16 inches or more, with drainage hole or sandy potting soil)
  • Humus or compost
  • Cycad plant
  • Shovel
  • Sand
  • Sunny or bright location
  • Water


  • Cycad Definition
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  • University of Arkansas
Keywords: cycad growing, sago palm, tropical gardening

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, and She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.