Recently, a newsgroup contributor asked for advice with regard to the frost
hardiness of Cycads. Over the ensuing thread of discussion my veracity was
questioned and impugned by one person (no big deal, I've read over some of
his posts and he contributes a big zilch to this newsgroup).
As a bonsai enthusiast I both raised and sold Cycas revulata as 'faux
bonsai' while living in Chicago. Sago Palms, while not thought of
traditionally as bonsai, were often potted in small groups in shallow
containers in southern Japan, where in the 1950's Sagos and miniature
banana trees enjoyed a sort of fad as whimsical bonsai. I was first
introduced to the concept of Sagos as bonsai through the video series 'New
Horizons in Bonsai' by Brian Batchelder, and then through John Naka's book,
'Bonsai Techniques, vol II'. Sagos as bonsai are also found in tropical
bonsai books as well as 'The Japanese Art of Miniature Trees & Shrubs' by
Yuji Yoshimura. Here is one post I made in 1996 concerning cycads as bonsai
in the newsgroup 'rec.arts.bonsai':
----begin quoted text----
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Flex123)
Subject: Re: Sago palm
organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)
Cycas revulata are extremely tough plants. My experience has been that
they can take a wide variety of growing conditions and pruning habits.
While the caveat of pruning fronds only during the warmest months is true,
they can take it if you prune at other times of the year as well. Bear in
mind they are extremely slow growers, and put out a new frond only about
once a year. So, if you take too much of the total foliage mass at once,
you could be putting the health of the tree at risk.
I just had one of mine put out a new frond for the first time, and it was
really a fun experience. The new growth exits from the top and looks kind
of like a fiddlehead, then shoots out to full length in about 2-3 weeks.
New growth can also occur along the sides of the thorny body of the plant,
when small bulbules (called 'Pups') push out, and then fronds exit from
that protuberance. That only happens when the plant is extremely happy and
mature, however. Cycads make excellent 'faux bonsai', in my opinion.
----end quoted text-----
There are several other posts of mine converning my Sagos archived in
My experience over 4 years of growing cycads in Chicago was that, at
temperatures below 45 degrees, some frond damage was likely to occur,
especially near the base of the frond, which would yellow or bronze out
several weeks later.
David J. Bockman, Fairfax, VA (USDA Hardiness Zone 7)
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