Transplanting Sago Palms

Minimizing Shock

Transplanting sago palms is less risky than moving true palms as cycads are less sensitive to root disturbance. Here are a few tips for reducing transplant shock and for restoring your trees to good growth and health after the move.

Sago palm.

How to Move a Sago Palm Tree

If the tree is small enough for you to lift and carry it, this is how you should proceed:

  1. Prepare the hole you are moving the tree into.
  2. Remove all the leaves. I know this sounds drastic, but it will actually protect the tree. If you do more root damage than you realize when you move the tree, it won't be able to take up enough water to support the leaves. As a result, the leaves can collapse and tear the apex apart, killing the tree.

    Removing the leaves is a preventative option. You don't have to do it. But it could save the tree if you do. The leaves will grow back in a couple of months.

    If you can't bear to remove them, but need to get them out of the way so you can transplant the palm, tie them up tightly with a bungee cord.

  3. Dig the sago up. Dig about a foot away from the trunk and a foot or more deep. Try to get as much of the root system out intact as you can. However, the trunk is more important than the roots. Don't damage it whatever you do. Any wound to the trunk can kill a sago palm tree.
  4. Place the tree into it's new hole, replace the soil and tamp it in. Water but do not "mud" it in. Particularly if you have removed the leaves.

Do not let the plant dry out but go easy on the water until you see new growth. Over watering a cycad with damaged roots is a recipe for rot.

Withhold food until the roots have had a chance to heal.

If the tree is too large for you to lift and you only need to move it a few feet from its current location:

  • Dig a trench from where it is to the new location.
  • Prepare the planting hole.
  • Dig around the root ball and slide it over to the new spot. This is an operation best performed by two people.
  • If you can't dig a trench to the new location because it is too far away or there are other valuable plants in the way, wheel the sago to its new home on a hand truck.

    When transplanting sago palms with trunks several feet tall, there is always the possibility of the trunk bending in transit. To prevent this, splint the tree by placing a wooden board on either side of the trunk. Tie the boards together.

    When transplanting sago palms, the season is irrelevant. They can be moved at any time of year.

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    Related Articles:

    Growing Sago Palms From Seed: Cycad Sex

    Using Sago Palms in Landscaping

    Treating Sago Palm Diseases

    Florida's Only Native Cycad, the Coontie Palm

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