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Plant Diseases/browning of sago palm plant leaves


When I first bought the plant the leaves were all green. I didn't remove it from its container and place it in my front yard with full sunlight exposure. A week ago I notice the browning of its leaves, then lately most of the leaves start browning. Daily I water the plant with a good drainage as shown by the quickness of the drying time. I look underneath each leaves but could not find any disease on it. What do you recommend should I do to stop the browning of the leaves.

Dear Gene, When you say you didn't place the sago in the yard with full sun, do you mean that you had it in a shady location or indoors?  At any rate, once the leaves are brown, they will stay brown and you must simply wait for new fronds to appear.  The sago has a very interesting growth habit.  The leaves appear from the center as a group, and each set of leaves will increase by one in number.  So if you have four fronds on the inside layer of leaves, the new set will have five fronds, and so on.  These leaves may have turned brown from too much water.  If you have the plant kept in a pot, you must make sure that the water drains completely out the hole in the bottom, and that it is never left standing in water.  That will cause the plant to develop rot which is usually fatal.  I also wouldn't water it every day unless you have the plant in a lot of sun.  The biggest problem is that the state you are located in will probably be very difficult to grow a sago in.  Some areas near the coast will have a higher numbered growing zone, but most of Washington will be too cold for sago palms to grow.  You could grow it in a greenhouse with good lighting, but small plants will need a lot of protection from the cold.  I have seen sago palms come back after all the leaves have turned brown, but it can take several months for a new set of leaves to emerge.  Be sure that you don't have the plant too wet, put it in good lighting, and hope for the best.  I hope this information helps, but write back if you have more questions.  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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