Cycas revoluta or Sago Palm of the Cycadaceae family is a Gymnosperm and not a true palm. Owing to its palm-like features, which include a crown of compound fronds and scaly leaves all over its single unbranched stem, it was misnomered a palm.
Native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Japan and China, they are some of the oldest plant species, with fossils older than 300 million years.
It is the only cycas that is extensively grown in gardens and as indoor plants. Being a perennial tree species, the sago palm takes a good 50 years to attain its maximum height of 10-15 feet.
They are the slowest growing sago palms. Apart from it, they contain some neurotoxins and carcinogens which are very harmful to humans and animals. Therefore, it is recommended not to work with sago palms barehanded.
Sago, a starch, is extracted from the pith of their stem which is used as food in many parts of the world. The stem is cut and soaked in water to release the toxins present in it.
Let us now find out how fast does a sago palm grow?
To answer the question how fast do sago palm trees grow, we need to consider the factors affecting their maximum realizable annual growth potential.
The growth rate of Cycas revoluta depends upon a number of factors. To attain its maximum growth rate of 1-2 inches every year, it is advised to plant it outdoors in the ground.
This enables the plant to maximize its growth potential by letting the roots grow freely unlike in a potted plant where the roots are bounded to grow in the soil limited by the pot.
Another important factor that affects the sago palm tree growth rate is soil drainage. This plant requires a well-drained soil system to prevent water-logging which if detained, can cause root-rot leading to stunted growth of the plant.
Sago palms are amongst the slowest growers. Still, the location where it has been planted greatly affects the sago palm growth rate.
Contrasting planting spots will give you fairly different annual results regarding the increase in plant height.
To understand how fast does a sago palm grow on average when placed outdoors and indoors respectively, you must read further.
In order to achieve a height of 10-12 feet, extremely favorable conditions like extensive root growth, ample sunlight, optimum temperature and humidity, and timely pruning play a major role.
When planted outdoors, in a spot where there is ample indirect sunlight available, and the soil is sandy soil with proper drainage, you can observe a growth of an inch, every year.
In addition to this, you also need regular fertilization for the healthy growth of sago palms.
Just like any other potted plant placed indoors, Cycas revoluta growth rate, which is 1-2 inches annually in the wild, is affected due to limited root growth.
It acquires a maximum height of around 2 feet in a duration of 5 years when placed indoors. This limited growth is not very healthy for the plant but is desirable if you want to enjoy its elegant beauty inside your house.
The mentioned indoor growth rate of 2 feet in 5 years, can only be achieved when proper and timely care of the plant is taken.
Watering daily and just sufficiently to ensure no logging takes place, and re-potting once every 3 years are some of the most crucial points to keep in mind when growing indoors to enhance the sago palm growth.
The king sago palm growth rate is quite steady. Despite providing favorable circumstances, they don’t add more than a couple inches to their height yearly.
Indoor potted sago palm trees grow even slower owing to their limited root growing capacity and sunlight availability. A 5-year-old sago palm that grew indoors could fit in a 5-inch pot without much trouble.
Sago palms are a dioecious species which means that the male and the female counterparts are found in two different plants.
The queen sago palms, scientifically known as Cycas rumphii, grows up to 15 feet in the same time duration. However, this data is valid only if the plants are placed outdoors in a partially bright area and taken regular care of.
The male sago palm growth rate is such that it amounts to 10-12 feet in 50 years, which is also its maximum attainable height.
In the case of indoor sago palms, they achieve a fair height of 2-3 feet in 5 years when proper fertilization and regular re-potting are done.
Sago palms are amongst the hardiest ancient Cycadales. Their existence can be traced back to the carboniferous period which precedes the Jurassic period by 200 million years.
They are believed to have survived the Fifth Great Mass Extinction whose credit goes to their ability to withstand extreme conditions. The life span of plants or other living organisms is related to the amount of time it takes to attain maturity.
Therefore, the lifespan of a sago palm can be estimated by how slow or how fast does a sago palm grow to attain maturity. Sago palms can take years to achieve maturity and live for more than 100 years.
Owing to the slow sago palm growth rate, the cost to buy a sago palm varies according to its size and age.
You can find sago palms at nurseries and gardening stores starting from $5 to $200 depending upon their size. A 12 inches sago palm might cost you somewhere between $15 to $25, whereas a plant as big as 30 to 36 inches might cost you around $200.
You can also consider buying seeds which might be a cheaper alternative, but it can take up to three months to germinate, which demonstrates the slow sago palm tree growth rate.
In addition to this, it requires a specific temperature range of 70 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and a lot of care.
Being a tropical plant, it is recommended to place a sago palm outdoors in a shady spot where it receives adequate indirect sunlight for an optimum cycas revoluta growth rate.
Direct sunlight can cause the burning of chlorophyll and less than sufficient indirect sunlight can hamper photosynthesis which can affect their growth rate.
The soil in which the sago palm is placed is supposed to be well-drained sandy soil. Clayey soil which logs water can result in root rot.
The optimum temperature for the healthy sago palm tree growth rate is somewhere between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sago palms are susceptible to a fungal infection that causes root rot resulting from overwatering and waterlogging.
Long exposures to freezing temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit result in the death of the plant.
Also, direct sunlight causes browning of the leaves which results in the decreased photosynthetic ability of the plant. Further, it decreases the cycas revoluta growth rate which if prolonged, leads to stunted growth and death of the plant.
We also covered the various conditions that favor or hamper the sago palm growth rate. Besides the aesthetic values that palm trees add to our surroundings, we also got to learn about their economical importance.