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How to Plant Sago Palm Seeds

grove of sago palms image by Joann Cooper from

Sago palms look like palm trees, but they are actually members of the very primitive Cycad family of plants. They have thick, bulbous trunks and long, spiny, olive-colored leaves. Sago palms can reach up to 20 feet tall, and they can be grown indoors in bright sun or outdoors in warm climates. Seedling sago palms are often used in terrariums or they can be given as gifts or party favors.

Fill a bucket with water and put the sago palm seeds in it to soak. Throw away any seeds that float because these were not fertilized and won't grow.

Let the seeds soak for three days, then peel off the softened orange skin. Wear gloves to avoid staining your hands. Set the seeds out to dry on paper towels for a couple of days.

Fill a 6-inch deep pot or seeding flat with a 50-50 mixture of peat moss and perlite or peat moss and coarse sand. The potting mix needs to be very well-draining.

Lay the seeds in the potting mix with a flat side up. Don't sow the seeds with the narrow ends up. Press the seeds slightly into the soil, but leave them so they're only partially covered.

Water the seeds in well. Use a sprinkling can or a sprayer with a very gentle setting to avoid flooding the seeds out of the potting mix. Press the seeds back into the soil after watering, with part of the flat side showing.

Set the pots in a shady, protected place. Water them when the soil is dry to about 2 inches deep. Soak the soil thoroughly, allow it to drain, then soak it again.

Transplant the seeds to 4-inch pots when they have their first set of true leaves, usually after about four months.

Leave the seeds to grow in the small pot for six to eight months until they become root bound, and then transplant them to 5-inch pots. Wait another six to eight months for them to get root bound again, then transplant them into one-gallon pots. Young sago palms grow and transplant better if they are root bound.

Move the plants into the garden or into very large pots when they are about 3 years old. Sago palms need a sunny location and very well-drained soil.

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