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Plant Diseases/Sago desease


My king sago puts out new growth that is yellow/brown and wilted. I think it points to a Mg deficiency in the soil. I treated it with Epson salt twice and the new growth is still yellow/brown and wilted.  Can I save these sagos by doing something different?

Dear Philip, First a bit about the Epsom salts.  Generally speaking, your soil will only be deficient in Magnesium if the soil is badly eroded or you have depleted top soil, or you have a pH imbalance.  To be sure that you are lacking in Magnesium, I would run a soil test.  However, I don't think that is the problem.  Yellowing or browning and wilting of the new growth in a cycad usually points to a problem with the crown.  See if the top of the plant is soft or yielding to the touch.  If it is, then your Sago is beginning to rot.  You can carefully cut off the soft rotting areas and treat with a strong fungicide and hope for the best if that is the case.  If the top is not yet soft, then there are a few factors to look at.  Is the area with the Sago overly shaded, or is this area wetter than usual, or does the plant itself receive excess water?  Sagos do like to dry out quite a bit.  Also, unfortunately, Florida is a state that has many reports of lethal yellowing, an appropriately labeled lethal plant disease for which there is no cure.  It causes crown collapse.  So your most likely problem is going to be either the lethal yellowing, for which there is no cure, or the crown rot.  Otherwise, if the area by the Sago is very wet, then try to dry the area as best as you can, weather permitting.  If that is the problem, you have a chance to turn the problem around.  Oh, by the way, the Epsom salts may actually aggravate this problem by adding more salt or alkalinity to the soil.  I'm sorry this news isn't more positive, but let me know if you have more questions, or more symptoms/descriptions of this Sago.  I hope this information helps.  Good luck, Melissa

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Melissa Johnston


Plant diseases, landscaping, tropical plants, roses, herbs, plant care, grafting, horticulture, plant identification, anything about plants I can likely answer.


35 years experience in various plant businesses, 1984 Certified Texas Master Gardener.

Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

none as of yet, but I have a plant q&a book I am in process of submitting.

Magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M, 1978

Awards and Honors
Plant growing awards, highest grade for Texas Master Gardener graduates.

Past/Present Clients
Past member of and was very highly rated. Owned landscape company in the past, Almost Paradise, and was very successful despite little equipment, no help, and no advertising. Lived well for two years until 9/11.

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