The sago palm (Cycas revoluta) is an evergreen, cone-bearing tree that is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 8 through 10. All parts of the sago palm tree are poisonous. According to North Carolina State University, consumption of the sago palm seed pods can cause diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness and seizures in both animals and people. The pods can be easily removed to prevent spreading of the plants and seeds and to prevent animals and children from coming in contact with the poison.
Wear gloves before coming in contact with any part of the sago palm.
Keep children and pets away from the area when you begin cutting the pods. Pets find the pods appetizing and will chew on them. Seed pods can become toxic to pets if they eat the pods. Sago palm pods can be toxic to humans if consumed in large amounts.
Cut the seed pods all the way down to the base of the pod using sharp pruning sheers. Place the pods in a garbage bag for disposal. Dispose of the pods in the county dump or landfill. Do not burn the pods as this can make the poisons in the seed pods airborne.
Locate a well-drained place in your garden that gets full sun.
Work a small bag of loam and a 6-4-4 fertilizer into the soil.
Dig a hole large enough to accommodate your broom shrub.
Place the broom in the hole and fill the area around the roots and crown with soil. Mound the soil up in a small hill around the crown to allow for the soil settling.
Water the plant well, saturating the soil.
Maintaining Your Broom
Water your Scottish broom sparingly. A good rule of thumb is to water when the soil is just dry.
Add a 6-4-4 fertilizer to keep the soil's pH between 5.5 and 7.
Prune the plant back after it flowers, usually in late spring to early summer.
Remove seed pods before they mature to prevent spread and naturalization into the surrounding landscape.
Pull any unwanted seedlings as soon as they sprout as mature plants are difficult to eradicate.
Water the sago palm when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil are dry.
Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch around the sago palm, keeping it 3 inches from the trunk.
Fertilize the sago palm three times between April and September. Use a 24-7-8 fertilizer containing magnesium and micronutrients at the rate suggested on the package.
Inspect the sago palm frequently for signs of scale (brown stripes or spots on the foliage) and mealybugs. Use insecticidal soap sprays to manage pests.
Protect your sago palm from thieves. Healthy, mature sago palms are worth a lot of money and disappear frequently from residential landscapes. Insert 3-foot lengths of iron rebar, 2 inches apart, around the plant. The rebar should be pounded to the soil, or just beneath it. Extension agents with the University of California assert that the sago’s roots will eventually wind around the rebar, making it difficult to remove the plant from the ground.
Select a palm fertilizer that contains equal percentages of nitrogen and potassium (phosphorus is unnecessary for sagos). Additionally, find a palm fertilizer that contains magnesium (1/3 of the nitrogen and potassium amounts).
Sprinkle the fertilizer evenly over the soil from the base of the tree out as far as the fronds extend. Use 1/2 lb. of fertilizer for every 2 feet of trunk diameter. Fertilize the sago for the first time in very early spring.
Water the sago well immediately after applying the fertilizer to the soil to enable the nutrients to penetrate down into the roots. Water only enough to saturate the soil evenly.
Fertilize the sago again one or two more times during the growing season, spacing the fertilizer applications two to three months apart.
Identify the branches you wish to cut back. In order to preserve the health of the tree, you should only cut away dead or badly diseased stalks, as cutting away healthy or even weakened yellow fronds can damage the plant.
Cut away any dead or badly diseased fronds, starting from the bottom leaves and working your way up.
Cut away any fruit or flower stalks that you deem necessary. These can be safely removed without fear of damaging the tree.
Cut away the fronds as needed. If necessary, you may remove all but the topmost ring of branches from the tree, though this should only be done in extreme cases.