Each month I join Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow-up on the day after Garden Blogger's Bloom Day which is the 15th and that should make this the 16th. I'm a day late this time and it's a good thing Pam is always flexible. November's choice is Cycas Revoluta or King Sago Palm.
When I post photos of the front yard, readers will occasionally ask questions about the large cycad near the mailbox. It's apparently hard to miss for those who love these plants. A few days ago Loree of Danger Garden asked why I never mention the cycad and, while I replied in the comments section, it's time to feature it for Foliage Follow-up and try to answer questions a little more in depth.
Despite the common name, Cycads are not true palms. While there are
native cycads in Mexico, the Sago palm is native to Japan. The revoluta means "curled back" which apparently refers to the curved leaves. Right now the tips in the upper part of the plant appear to be having a "bad hair day" since they are somewhat unruly perhaps due to our crazy weather with both unseasonably warm and cold in the same week. They could be crowded in there too. The lower part is pretty while the upper leaves are going every which way.
There were two cycads near the mailbox in 1995 when we bought the house. Along the way one of them froze but this one has managed to survive nearly 20 years of searing heat waves, drought, torrential rain, and the occasional deep freeze which are all part of weather in South Texas. You can see browned leaf tips around the base. In the winter the cold concrete burns the leaves and
in the summer they are burned by radiating heat.
At nearly 10' diameter (just over 3 meters) it is growing over the walk by the mailbox and those fronds have sharp points. We plan to keep it and hope it doesn't get much bigger. Much of the girth is from the seven pups growing out of the base as you can see here. We never tried to remove any pups since there's no way to avoid multiple stab wounds so we simply cut out dead fronds after winter freezes. Since we haven't had a big freeze in two years it's been a while since we've dealt with it. At 6' (just under 2 meters) tall, this guy is hard to miss.
It is a male plant with two stamens over a foot long. Female seed pods are round.
How do we protect it when it does get cold? In February 2011 we covered it with a tarp to protect it from a prolonged 3-day freeze followed by snow. The idea is to keep the cold from settling into the core. Many of the cycads in the neighborhood lost their leaves that year but most regrew from the base over the next several months.
Why don't I mention it more? They are fairly common in my neighborhood. Just within a few blocks in either direction there are probably 50 or more planted in front yards I can see on my daily walks.
There are some good points. It makes a good background for this pennisetum which is about where the second Sago used to be. Can you imagine if both were the same size now?
It also fills the need for some type of structure at the entrance to the driveway. You'll notice the horseherb is looking a bit shaggy at the base. That goes back to the stabby nature of the leaves so I typically leave the groundcover to die back in the winter.
It's also absolutely deer proof. I have never seen one antlered, and deer certainly will not eat it. Since that's a top requirement in plant selection for the yard, this cycad is perfect for this conspicuous spot in my garden.
For more Foliage Follow-up posts, be sure to check out the comments sections at Digging.
Well, it's a beautiful plant, even if the top is growing every which way.ReplyDelete
I'm appreciating it more now that I've noticed it there.Delete
It IS a plant that we Texans tend to take for granted since there are so many of them. I had a request for a photo of one the other day and realized I'd never bothered to get a good picture of one, despite the fact that they're all over my neighborhood. Funny!ReplyDelete
They are so common we don't actually see them. Funny how plants that grow well here escape our notice.Delete
We do tend to take for granted those plants that thrive without too much attention in our climates. The rest of us can salivate over this stunning plant that would no doubt pout if we tried it.ReplyDelete
All these comments are getting me to take another look. It's nice to know there are plants doing well here that won't grow elsewhere.Delete
That is one impressive cycad! Attractive, resilient and big! I don't think I've ever seen one that large in our neck of the woods, except perhaps in an arboretum. Pam's probably right that we tend to take for granted the plants that are common in our own areas - I do the same with our Yucca gigantea.ReplyDelete
Wow, arboretum quality is pretty impressive. We do tend to long for the very plants we can't grow.Delete
Very pretty clumping plant. I hope you can successfully dig out some pups when the time comes.ReplyDelete
We will try but it doesn't look easy and we might not have room for more given the size of this one.Delete
Wow, I didn't realize that they were so common there. I have one in a pot that gets pulled inside during really cold weather. Don't suppose one could do that with a specimen the size of yours. Beautiful!ReplyDelete
I can't imagine carrying a small one anywhere but i know they don't like really cold weather. This one must weigh a ton so no chance.Delete
I think I would do the same thing you have done. It seems right for the spot, and the fact that it works in your climate so well is a plus. I think it's an attractive plant. I'm pretty sure I saw some trimmed the way you describe when I was in Florida last March. Good plant for Foliage Follow-Up!ReplyDelete
It's fairly common to see them trimmed up, especially after a freeze or drought has burned the lower leaves.Delete
That has to be the biggest Sago that I have ever seen. I never realized exactly how large it is. The ones growing up here are pretty small and often die back after the winter.ReplyDelete
It is as big as some of the agaves in the neighborhood. I need to look around and see if I find any larger ones.Delete
Thank you so much for all the photos and more info about your gigantic cycad...it is simply fabulous, at least to my eyes. I do remember Pam mentioning once that she didn't really care for them, and sharing photos of some crispy ones after a bad cold spell. Bravo that you guys have taken steps to protect yours even when it's not a favorite plant.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I do like the way it graces the driveway entrance and it is evergreen.Delete
That is quite the behemoth sago palm! A few years ago in the Austin area, we had a big freeze that killed many of sago palms. Mine sustained some minor damage, but came back just fine. So far, I've managed to keep it to a single plant, but if it ever manages to get as big as yours, I'll be in trouble because it will completely block my path. Luckily, they are pretty slow growing, so I can enjoy it for a while longer before I have to take action.ReplyDelete
They are slow but this one seems to grow very fast in good weather. A few were lost around here during the big freeze a few years ago.Delete