I love sago palms. I write about them all the time in my newsletters and magazine articles. And, of course, I talk about them all the time on the radio show.
I consider sagos an underutilized landscape shrub for our area. I realize there are some people who don't like them at all, but for landscaping purposes in the Houston area, there is no better specimen. It's an all-purpose plant that can do equally well in total sunshine, total shade or anything in between. Here are some tips to help you keep those Sagos looking their best.
The first tip concerns the cultural care of sagos, and it's the one thing that, if neglected, makes sagos look horrible over time. It's harvesting or getting rid of the "pups" ... the new growth, down at the base of the original plant. Harvest these pups when they're small, put them in a container with rich organic potting soil for next year, and you can essentially start your own sago farm. Once a pup has developed its own root system in the container, you can plant it in the ground. But if you leave the pups to their own devices, they grow up between the existing fronds, pushing some in different directions, and making the plant look gnarled.
If the "pups" are over a foot tall, they are harder to propagate, so just trim them out. To learn more about propagating Sago pups and to see a huge selection of sago images, CLICK HERE. For info on growing sago palms from seed, CLICK HERE.
The second tip involves a little homemade formula I've prescribed for years to green up yellowing sagos using any of the 3-1-2 ratio fertilizers I recommend in the lawn care schedule. Fill a typical 16-ounce coffee can two-thirds full with the 3-1-2 lawn food. Then, fill the other third with granular iron. (There are tons on the market ... I don't care which one you choose!) Mix thoroughly! Poke some six- to eight-inch-deep holes in the ground down around the base of the sago, and then sprinkle the fertilizer/iron mix on the ground. (Don't let it get all over the plant ... wedged in between the fronds ... that would not be good). Then water it in thoroughly and consistently for the next couple of weeks. This has worked for me for many years when it comes to greening up a sago suffering from nutrient deficiencies.