En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - February 01, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Frost damage to Mexican palm and non-native Sago palm in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have frost damage to the leaves on my mexican palm tree which is about 12 feet high. Can I cut back all of the damaged leaves and what month? Also, Sago palms have some frost damage on the upper most leaves. Do I cut back just the damaged portion and what month?

ANSWER:

Sabal mexicana (Rio Grande palmetto) is native to Texas, mostly to areas along the southern coast and the Rio Grande. It is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11, and can tolerate temperatures down to 12 deg F with little or no leaf damage. Austin is in Zone 8a, but the whole country has had most unusual cold weather recently.

The Lady Bird Johnston Wildflower Center is committed to the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area where they are being grown. Cycas revoluta,  Sago Palm, is a subtropical, native to the southernmost islands of Japan, an area of high rainfall and warm temperatures. The Sago Palm (not really a palm, but a cycad) is hardy from USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 10. Here is an article from Floridata that might give you some clues on what to do about the yellowing branches. Please note this article's warning about the toxicity of the entire plant. 

In both cases, we feel the plants are safe, and the damaged leaves can be trimmed away any time. Right now, while most plants are somewhat dormant, would be a good time to tidy them up. 

Pictures of Sago Palm from Google

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Sabal mexicana

Sabal mexicana

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Identification of red lily-like blossom in Austin, TX
September 21, 2012 - Rain at last in Austin! The rain lilies are up, but wait, what on earth is this? Lily like, 6 petals, but a cluster of 6 stalks w/blood red blooms slightly larger than our rain lilies - Off under a ...
view the full question and answer

Wrapping a newly planted non-native Japanese maple from Fraser MI
October 01, 2013 - Does a newly planted Japanese maple need to be wrapped in burlap for the cold and snowy winter of Macomb County, Michigan?
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive mimosa trees in Vincennes IN
April 29, 2014 - I have 3 Mimosa trees here in Vincennes, Indiana and so far none of them are leafing out this spring (4-28-14) Do you think that this past winter could have killed then?
view the full question and answer

Non-native Meyer lemon problems in Dripping Springs, TX.
July 02, 2014 - I have a Meyer lemon that looks very sick. The leaves, limbs, and fruit all have brownish gold raised spots that are the size of a pin head. The spots on the leaves seem to run along the center of t...
view the full question and answer

Invasive thistles in wildflower field from Dripping Springs TX
February 17, 2014 - How to get rid of "native" thistles.. I have a large natural field that used to grow a variety of wildflowers, but in 2011 and 2012 it was taken over by thistles. I'm sure they are "native" Texas...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center