Sago Palm Houseplant Problems
September 13, 2015 12:50 PM   Subscribe

I have a small Sago Palm in the living room that seems perfectly happy sending out new growth and then letting them die. (Photos) I thought the new fronds would mature into new leaves but they uncurl and then just yellow and die. I was told not to cut the yellowing fronds off as the plant self-cannibalizes, but they're not very attractive - how do I either stop the fronds from dying or discourage new growth?
posted by The Whelk to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
I can't pull up your photos, so I am just throwing this out.

Maybe repotting into a larger pot would help. My spider plant does this when it gets root bound, but I don't need any more babies.
posted by moonlily at 12:54 PM on September 13, 2015

[Fixed image link, carry on. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:00 PM on September 13, 2015

Much, much more light and less water.

Very bright light, like in a direct south facing window. Don't let it sit in a saucer of water. Don't overpot or transplant into a planter too big for the roots. They like humidity, so it can help to keep an orchid-type humidity tray beneath the pot, but not let the pot or roots touch water. Poisonous to pets, so be careful with that.

Single best guess is lack of enough direct sunlight, so that's the first thing to fix.
posted by vers at 1:18 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you want a group of people dedicated to caring for Palm trees, you couldn't go wrong with Palm Talk
posted by bilabial at 1:56 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, seconding vers. Way, way more light (though acclimatize it or you may sunburn its leaves). It would prefer direct sunlight for most of the day, honestly, so however you can best approximate that. Do not repot it into a bigger pot right now, though if the soil is not a loose, gritty, porous soil you will want to change that out. Use fertilizer only sparingly while it's weak; more will just chemically burn the roots.

Palms are not great long-term indoor houseplants.
posted by vegartanipla at 5:13 PM on September 13, 2015

If you're after something vaguely palm tree shaped that will cope better in low light, perhaps a tree fern?
posted by flabdablet at 5:52 AM on September 14, 2015

Those aren't shoots; they are new fronds. I agree with people saying that it may be getting too much water. The fact that new shoots are turning yellow and dying lead me to suspect is also has a magnesium deficiency. Re-pot in good, well draining soil, in a small pot (they do well rootbound) that has a separate saucer so the pot can be raised above it with some gravel under the pot (do not put gravel in the bottom of the pot). Fertilize lightly with a palm fertilizer as well to provide some nitrogen and other essential nutrients.

ps: not a true palm- they are more closely related to Ginkgos than any palm.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:51 PM on September 14, 2015

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