Most Frequently Asked Questions


How do I remove the offsets at the base of my sago, and what do I need to do grow them into plants?

This is probably the question I get the most. I am going to describe the method I use. Most people do not have to go through as much trouble as this, but to make sure that every one has a good chance , it doesn't hurt to make sure to do it right.
Cut all the leaves from the offset plants. If you do not cut the leaves off, they will draw moisture and energy out of the offset before it has a chance to produce roots. The secret to all this is the starch content in the offset. It can live on this starch until new roots are formed. This is another reason why the offset does not need to be watered like you would a cutting, I will get into that later. Remove all the soil from around the offsets. After I have removed most of the soil, I like to spray the area with water to wash off every bit of soil so I can see what I'm doing and also to keep everything as sterile as possible. Use a very sharp tool to remove the offsets from the main plant. Make sure to make a clean cut. Do not pull the offset off the main plant. Sometimes the offset will pull out a small, round piece of stem when you do this, and this makes a hole for fungus to get into. Also the more jagged the cut, the more there is a chance to have a place for fungus to get into. Sometimes I have to cut the offset again, once it is removed to make a cleaner, smoother cut. Tools that seem to work the best are very large knives, very sharp shovels, machetes, and if you remove offsets on a regular basis, there is nothing like a reciprocating saw, or otherwise known as a "sawsall."
Once you have removed all the offsets, spray or brush the wounds of the offsets, as well as the wounds on the main plant, with a fungicide. I like to use Daconil. You can add a rooting hormone to the fungicide that you use on the offsets if you want. It seems to help a little. Once this has dried, I paint all the wounds with black tree paint, or also known as tree sealer. Once this has dried, the offsets are ready to plant, and the soil can be placed around the main plant once again.
"Advanced method" If you have done this before, and are good at starting offsets, you can try this advanced method. When you cut the offset, the more area that is cut, the more roots that will be produced. Most offsets are attached to the main plant by a narrow attachment point, instead of the width of the entire offset. By making another larger cut on the offset you can get at least 5 times the roots. This larger cut also has a larger wound to heal, so it is better to get used to rooting offsets before you try this. This is where the tree paint comes in very handy.
Now that you are ready to plant the offsets, place the offsets in containers with the cleanest sand you can find. I use course builder's sand. Any organic material can increase the chance of fungus getting into the offsets. Some people use pumice, or perlite, instead of sand. I try to place an offset in a container that is close to the diameter of the offset. I put the small ones in a community pot. Place the containers in the shade, the sun can dry out the offsets if it is too extreme. The most important thing to remember is that there are no roots or leaves on these offsets. They don't lose very much moisture, and can't take very much up without roots. This means that you don't water these offsets like you would a regular plant, or a cutting. Moisten the offsets maybe once a week or once every other week just to keep them from desiccating. The offsets live from the starch contained in them so there is no need to treat them like cuttings. The offsets will root in faster if it is warm, but even during the warm months, it may take up to 8 months to root in and produce leaves. Once the offsets are fully rooted you can plant them in your normal medium, and put them out in your growing area.

What is the best procedure to transplant my King Sago?

Transplanting cycads in general is very easy and fairly risk free as long as you do the proper things. I prefer to remove the all the leaves before I start to move the plant. This makes it easy to work on the plant. If the root system is damaged a great deal when dig up, the leaves will not get as much water pumped into them, and the leaves can collapse and pull the apex apart, which could kill the plant. This doesn't always happen, and the plant can be moved without removing the leaves, but I feel it is the best way, just to make sure. The more leaves there are, and the more the roots are cut will determine how much there is a need for this. If you move the plant during any of the warm months, new leaves are usually produced within a month or two. Even though you can move a cycad any time during the year, the warm months are best.

I try to dig at least 8 to 12 inches away from the trunk in all directions, and at least 12 to 18 inches below the ground, but it never hurts to keep as much of the root system as possible. It is not necessary to treat the roots that have been cut, but if any large roots that are more than an inch or two in diameter are cut, it can't hurt to apply a fungicide or sulfur powder to the cut area, or to seal the cut area with black tree paint. The most important thing to remember when moving a large cycad is to not damage the stem. Any cut area, or gouge caused by wrapping a chain around the stem can kill the plant. Damage may not be obvious at first and can take as long as 3 years for the plant to die. When moving a plant with a stem that exceeds 4 feet, the weight of the stem can cause it to bend, even though it may not be noticeable. It is advisable to use a splint when moving plants with stems that exceed 6 feet in length. By placing two boards on either side of the stem and tying them together, this can keep the stem from bending when being moved.

Once you plant the cycad, you should not over water it, especially if you have removed the leaves. If the plant does not have leaves, it can't respirate, and does not lose very much moisture. This is why I remove the leaves to reduce shock. It is good to water in the plant at first, mainly to fill any air pockets in the soil. After that, only water lightly a couple of times a week until the new leaves are produced. Over watering cycads in general, and certainly when there are damaged roots, is the best way to cause rot that can kill the plant.

It will not hurt to add a time release, or water soluble fertilizer when planting, but it is not recommended to add a strong granular fertilizer until the damaged roots heal.

Transplanting a cycad is very easy, and I have made it sound more difficult than it really is, but it never hurts to cover any possible problems to ensure a successful transplant.