Need to move Sago Palm/ any tips?

Austin, TX

I have two Sagos that need to be moved. They have been in the same location for about 8 years. They are about 6 feet in diameter and are very healthy. How difficult will they be to move? Deep root system? Also, in the center of another Sago there are red berries in a bed of tan fuzz. I am thinking that the red berries are seeds. Do I need to remove them? On that same sago, some of the fronds surronding the berries have yellowed. Thanks for any suggestions. Charles

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9b)

Sagos can be moved. The only difficulties being sharp spines and the overall weight of trunk and root ball. And after moving, it may take more than a year to see new growth. Don't worry about that, Sagos have a great ability to survive.

A couple of questions. How tall is the trunk, and is there more than one trunk per plant? Could you post a pic?

To start I'd cut off all but the top set of fronds. Once this is done, using rope or strong twine, draw the top fronds up towards the top and tie them together. This will make digging it out much easier. If there are multiple trunks, (depending on the size of them) you might want to remove them too. If they are small (pups), (size of a volleyball or smaller) and you want to keep them just remove all the fronds. If they are large (already forming trunks) and you want to keep them, prune and tie up the top level of fronds as was done with the main trunk. If you don't like the bushy look, and want to emphasize the impact and increase the growth rate of the center trunk, the "pups/suckers" can be removed completely. All this prep work is to increase safety and ease in digging them out.

After the prep work is complete, start digging. Get as large a root ball as possible. I'd try to keep at least twice the diameter of the trunk, so you might have a root ball of about two feet in diameter. Of course, the larger the root ball is, you will need more people to help move the plant.

In my opinion, this is all "best case scenario". As I said Sagos are fighters and can be moved with much less prep and care. I have done much less (before I knew better) and the plant survived. Although, the more care you put into the prep the faster the plant will recover.

As far as the seeds go, they can be removed and planted if you want to get into starting from seed (that can be discussed on another thread). Seed development takes lots of energy. This is likely the cause of your yellowing fronds. I don't think you can re-green the yellow fronds, but with proper water and fertilization it can be prevented the next time your female produces a cone.

Hope this all helps. Good luck, and happy digging.


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks for such thorough instructions, as I have to move a 2 yr old sago in the next several weeks. Putting up a new fence and raised veggie beds. This sago was a gift and is doing beautifully. Unfortunately, it's right in the middle of the sunniest spot I have to put the veggie bed, and has to be relocated.

Question: I'm familiar with the Sago's growth habits and all as I took them on as a project and fell in love with them. But never moved one before. Once I dig it up and decide on a new location, how big a planting hole and how deep should I sink it? Roughly the same depth and diameter as it comes out?

And, what will I need to put in the planting hole it came from to fill it in so there's no sinking there, and 2) to fill the new hole where it's going to be relocated to help it settle in for the winter? Probably not much in the new hole since it's about to go dormant anyways, huh?



Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9b)

I've been away for a while. If you haven't transplanted yet I'd only dig the new hole so the top of the root ball (when resting in the bottom) is even with the top of the ground. This is to prevent settling down the road. The new hole can be twice as wide. As far as amendments to the new hole I've heard two things. One thought is to only replace the native soil. That would prevent the roots from only circling round and round in the new, soft planting material. Sago's do like drainage though, and even in heavy clay, I'd recommend mixing palm/cactus mix 50/50 with existing soil.

The old hole will need to be tamped periodically as it is being refilled to prevent future sinking. I'd start by putting in the unused dirt from the new hole and tamping. Then top off with something more garden friendly.


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