Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cycad flush

I’m fond of many plants. Yes, there are the eponymous bamboos and succulents. But there are so many others. One plant group I’ve taken a particular liking to lately are the cycads. These exotic plants that hark back to the age of the dinosaurs lend a tropical look to any garden. Its most popular member, the sago palm (Cycas revoluta), is a staple of contemporary California landscaping. Like all cycads, it’s slow-growing, but it still grows faster and is hardier than many others.

Here is our sago palm. It’s over 10 years old now and it’s beginning to fill the large terracotta pot that has been its home almost since the beginning.

IMG_8246
Cycas revoluta next to our front porch.
(The succulent table is partially empty because we just got new gutters
and I had to make room for the installers.)
120610_Cycas-revoluta_16
Cycas revoluta

Once a year (or twice, if you’re really lucky) cycads produce a set of new leaves. This is called a “flush,” and I await it as eagerly as new bamboo shoots or cactus flowers.

I spotted the first signs of flushing at the very beginning of the month:

120601_Cycas-revoluta_04
Cycas revoluta
June 1, 2012

Nine days later the new leaves looked like this:

120610_Cycas-revoluta_15
Cycas revoluta
June 10, 2012

And now they look like this:

120610_Cycas-revoluta_14
Cycas revoluta
June 12, 2012

Unlike mature leaves, which are fairly rigid and have sharp tips, the new leaves are very soft and their edges curl inward.

                                                                                                                                                        
120610_Cycas-revoluta_13
120610_Cycas-revoluta_11
New leaves on Cycas revoluta
120610_Cycas-revoluta_03
New leaves on Cycas revoluta
120610_Cycas-revoluta_04
New leaves on Cycas revoluta

It won’t be long now before the new leaves have reached their final size. They will then harden over a period of four or six weeks.

Our sago palm isn’t the only cycad producing a flush. This small Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’ is also producing new leaves.

120606_Dioon-edule-Palma-sola_02
Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’

It’s exciting to see because this plant was pretty neglected when I bought it (and two others) earlier this year.

120606_Dioon-edule-Palma-sola_01
Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’

Here are some other cycad-related posts if you’re interested:

12 comments:

  1. The Cycas Revoluta flush is beautiful. Love the close-ups.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My Dioon edule started to push out new leaves but then just stopped and now they look sort of crispy, not a good sign eh? Congrats on yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, unfortunately crispy is never a good sign when it comes to leaves :-(.

      Delete
  3. It's exciting isn't it when you see your Cycads flushing :) I'm still waiting for any of ours to do the same but because of the cool summer we're having so far it may never happen this year, and if it does it may flush late and never get the chance to harden off before the winter starts. That's what happened to one of ours and it just got frosted away. Well done on yours!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ah my favorite things about sago palms, it's always surreal to see them doing their thing. Jealous of the dioon, I'll need to keep an eye out for that one. Great shots!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nat, I got my Dioon edule on eBay. 3 5-year old seedlings for $27.

      Delete
  5. I just noticed new leaves starting on my other cycads as well: Cycas panzhihuaensis, Encephalartos lehmannii and an Encephalartos horridus × longifolius cross. Keeping my fingers crossed that they'll turn into mature leaves...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Cool! Your C. revoluta looks fabulous. What kind of fertilizer do you give them? Mine looks a little yellow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I give it a liberal dose of Osmocote Plus 6-month time release fertilizer twice a year. Check out this article on how to get cycads to flush more often by fertilizing them more than you otherwise might.

      Delete
    2. P.S. In our area, yellow leaves are usually a sign of iron deficiency. Have you tried applying some supplemental iron?

      Delete
  7. Congratulations! I always enjoy a good flush. New leaves can only make a plant lok better. Good to know that you too are a cycad lover.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll post an update soon. The new leaves are so lush and beautiful.

      Delete