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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.

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

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Wednesday - March 10, 2010

From: Burnet, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Poisonous Plants
Title: Pruning the leaves of Sago Palm.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Is it a cardinal sin to remove all the sago palm branches? This winter they were so badly scorched by the cold that hardly a frond went unaffected. So I cut them all off as I needed to get around the base and remulch and see what was going on with the dirt. Sure enough, there were armadillo holes all around the area. I was also wanting to raise their canopy some. These are all well-established plants. But now I see where there are cautions not to cut back all the fronds, even if affected. Can you please respond as I am losing sleep over this? Even though it is too late to undo the deed, I thought the new growth would just come on and it would be like any other type of a palmlike thing; just give more of a trunk. Thank you if you can tell me all is not lost.

ANSWER:

The sago palm is a popular ornamental plant used in landscaping in central Texas, and many of the ones in the area took a hit from the freezing weather this winter. The reason for this is partly because they're not from around here. The plant, Cycas revoluta, is native to Japan and southeast Asia. It can survive down to 15 degrees fahrenheit, but not without some damage.
The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes. This leaves sago palms outside our area of focus and expertise.
However, I have included two links that will give you more information about sago palms , and tips for pruning them .  You should be aware that these plants are toxic to humans and pets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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