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winterizing a sago palm

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From: D Antonacci
City:
Peoria, IL
I have 2 sago palms on my patio. I'd like them to survive the winter so I can continue to use them each year. What do I need to do for the winter? When do I need to bring them in? etc.

 
Extension Message
From: Greg Stack
Extension Horticulturist
Office of Web Development
gstack@illinois.edu
Hi,

You need to bring them in when the temperatures start to get toward freezing. They need to be brought in and put into an area that they can get as bright a light as possible. Water as needed but you can keep them on the dry side. I would not fertilze them as they will probalby not do much growing in the low light and colder temperatures. when weather gets stable next spring put them back out.

 
From: D Antonacci
City:
Peoria, IL
I've had them inside since about November, but the leaves turned a dull brownish color and are saggy. Is this normal? I've been sure not to overwater them - allowing them to stay on the dry side a bit. Am I doing something wrong? Should I cut the palms? Or will this need to be done when I get ready to put them back out?

 
Extension Message
From: Greg Stack
Extension Horticulturist
Office of Web Development
gstack@illinois.edu
Because they are inside and in a low light environment that is part of the reason they may not look as good. Also keeping them on the dry side tends to make them go into a "dormant" mode. which is good. I might suggest that when you water water well but keep the soil on the dry side. Expect some leaves to brown and perhaps sag. I would only cut off leaves that have browned and leave any major cleanup until the spring when you put them back outdoors and can resume good watering and fertlity.

 
From: Sylvia Keller
City:
Manchester, MO
How my Sago Palm survived the cold northern winter months. I have a 30 year old potted double headed Sago Palm tree, which I put outside every spring and bring inside for winter. Last year the pot got too heavy for me to bring inside the house so I rolled it in my garage and left it in the semi-dark and cold garage below 30 degrees. I covered the lower part of the gigantic pot with a blanket to try to protect the roots from freezing. Watered it only once per month very little. In March I rolled it outside again and though the plant was dead. But it came back after fertilizing it and plenty of sunshine. It never lost any leaves nor did they turn brown during the winter. Due to their large diameter I trimmed the leaves off more then 50% before bringing it in the garage. It did not grow as large as years before but it did somehow survive the winter season in an unheated and un- protected garage. Anyway I have to do the same thing this year and hope it will survive again. Also, add some regular coffee grounds to the soil in the summer, Sago Palms like some caffeine and the bugs stay away.

 
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