All about plant fertilization

How and when to fertilize sago palm

The sago palm (Cycas revoluta) is a plant of the Cycadaceae family and the Cycas genus, it is characterized by being very symmetrical and by its crown of large, dark green leaves and a thick stem. It can be found in both indoor and outdoor crops, or is even used to make bonsai. In this article we will see what the nutrient needs are and how to use the fertilizer for the sago palm. So we will also dedicate a section to briefly analyze the most important care of this plant.

Interesting fact: this plant is known as a living fossil. This is because it is over 300 million years old, having appeared on earth before the dinosaurs. And although it looks like a palm tree, specialists assure that it is not.

1. How to care your sago palm

Before starting to see the most important care of the sago palm, I want to clarify that it is a poisonous plant. Especially the seed contains a toxin whose name is cicasin. If consumed in a high enough dose, it can lead to liver failure.

Fertilizer for sago palm
Sago palm – Image source

Having made that important clarification, let’s move on to care:

  • Location: The most important thing about location is that it receives several hours of direct sunlight a day. Otherwise its leaves will not grow properly.
  • Soil: it must be well drained and quite fertile. This good drainage must be able to avoid any puddle of water.
  • Pruning: The pruning of this plant should be limited only to cutting the dry, yellow or diseased branches. Under no circumstances should you cut all the leaves as recommended by some gardeners.
  • Temperature: it is resistant to a wide range of temperatures. Being able to resist up to 12 degrees below zero.
  • Watering: watering should be done only when the soil is completely dry. Do not over water as it can damage the plant.
  • Fertilization: Fertilization could not be included in this care list. In the following sections we will delve into this topic.

2. What are NPK values?

If you are not fertilizing a plant for the first time, you may have noticed that there are three numbers separated by a dash on fertilizer packages. Are you sure what they mean? In case you know, you can skip to the next section. Otherwise, here you can get rid of the doubt.

These three numbers are what are known as NPK values. Indicating in each letter three of the most important nutrients for the development of a plant. Let’s see in more detail which nutrient each letter represents:

  • N: represents nitrogen, which is the most important nutrient for leaf development and is also the main chemical involved in photosynthesis.
  • P: represents phosphorus, being responsible for the development of roots, stems, flowers and fruits in a more vigorous plant.
  • K: this last letter represents potassium, a nutrient responsible for giving more strength to the plant. Contributing to a better initial growth, giving greater resistance to diseases, reducing possible stresses and improving the quality of the fruits.

On the other hand, each number specifically indicates the percentage by weight of the nutrient with respect to the total weight of the fertilizer. Since I know this may not be entirely clear, let’s look at a simple example:

“If you have bought a 5 kg bag of 10-15-20 compost. This compost contains 500 g of nitrogen, 750 g of phosphorus and 1 kg of potassium. The remaining weight is taken up by minor nutrients and other components.”

With this I think you should have no doubts about these numbers. Now we can go ahead and get fully involved with the fertilization of the sago palm.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

3. Best fertilizer for sago palm

The first thing to ask yourself when fertilizing any plant is, what fertilizer should I use? With regard to sago palms we can use both homemade organic fertilizers and commercial fertilizers.

Regardless of the type of fertilizer you use, keep in mind that soil is best when it is somewhat acidic. The range should be kept between 5 and 7. Values like these help better nitrogen conversion and prevent a deficiency in the necessary magnesium from being generated.

3.1 Organic fertilizar

Using organic fertilizers on sago palms is a very common practice. Doing so brings many benefits to these plants.

It is best to apply compost or manure. In case of using manure, it is essential that it is not fresh, as it can cause some problems in the plant.

A good layer of organic matter on top of the soil will allow better retention of moisture. At the same time, the temperature will be better regulated and they will release nutrients gradually and slowly. Something important in slow-growing plants like the sago palm.

3.2 Commercial fertilizer

If you are considering using commercial fertilizers, consider what we just discussed in the previous section. Slow-release fertilizers should be applied to a slow-growing plant like the sago palm. Therefore, if you have a liquid fertilizer that is commonly used in many garden plants, it is not the best option for this case.

You should opt for fertilizers in slow release format, and with an equal or similar concentration of both nitrogen and potassium. And with a slightly lower phosphorous concentration. We have already studied what NPK values are, so you should look for fertilizers with the first and last numbers the same, and a smaller number in the center.

Examples of commercial fertilizers that meet these requirements are 12-4-12, 4-1-5, among others. Depending on the mixtures you are going to use, the doses will change, so you must be careful not to overdo it.

4. Fertilizing sago palm

We have already studied the necessary care, we have seen what the NPK values are, and what are the best fertilizers to apply on a sago palm. It is time to analyze how and when we should carry out fertilization.

You will see that it will have taken longer to read this short article than to finish fertilizing. The procedure is very simple.

4.1 How to fertilize

The fertilization of this palm must begin from the transplant of it. We must provide a soil with a good amount of organic matter. If the soil in your garden is very poor, mix soil, organic matter and sand and place it in the hole where you will transplant. Do not apply more fertilizer than organic matter once the transplant is done, or you can stress the plant.

If the soil in your garden meets the requirements of the sago palm, it will be sufficient to surround the plant with a mulch of organic fertilizer (manure or compost). This will slowly release the nutrients so that the plant can use them gradually.

As we said before, you can use commercial fertilizers, as long as they are slow release. To know exactly the dose to apply, you must read the instructions for use on the packaging. But to give you an idea we can mention the following (applicable to fertilizer 12-4-12):

  • If your sago palm is in fairly sandy soil and exposed to many hours of daily sunlight, it will generally need around 5 kg of fertilizer for every 25 m2 of land.
  • If, on the contrary, the soil is quite clayey and the hours of sunshine are few, the necessary dose will be less. With about 2.5 kg of the same fertilizer per 25 m2 it will be more than enough.

Always accompany fertilization with abundant watering. Use a sprinkler to water, this system will apply water little by little and will not wash off the fertilizer.

Once again I emphasize that the dosages recommended above are only estimates. You should read the instructions for use carefully, as each fertilizer mixture will have an ideal dose for your sago palm.

4.2 When to fertilize

As with most plants, they need nutrients when they are in full growing season. This is in spring and summer.

Since it is good to give them the nutrients little by little, so that they have them available evenly throughout the season, it is advisable to divide the fertilization into applications. That is, apply the fertilizer for the sago palm in the first days of April, then in early June and finish in the first days of August (applicable to the northern hemisphere).

5. Fertilizer for sago palm (video)

As we do with each of the articles on this blog, we will end with a video. In this case we have taken it from the Shampy’s Garden channel. Here you can see and understand more graphically part of what has been analyzed so far. Hope you enjoy it and it helps you. 😉

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

We have already reached the end of this post, I hope you have found it useful. And when you need to fertilize your sago palms, have no doubts. Otherwise, you can revisit our website at any time.

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