Monday, June 17, 2013

Sago palm flushing big

Like clockwork, the large sago palm (Cycas revoluta) next to our front porch is producing its annual set of leaves (this process is called “flushing”).

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Cycas revoluta, June 3, 2013

Like last year, flushing started at the very beginning of June.

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Cycas revoluta, June 3, 2013

At first it’s impossible to tell how many new leaves there will be, but after a week or so you’ll get a fairly good idea.

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Cycas revoluta, June 9, 2013

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Cycas revoluta, June 11, 2013

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Cycas revoluta, June 14, 2013

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Cycas revoluta, June 14, 2013

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Cycas revoluta, June 16, 2013

Last year there were 22 new leaves. This year there will be quite a few more: 31, if I counted right.

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Cycas revoluta, June 16, 2013

Initially, the new leaves are very soft but within a month or so they will have hardened and become as prickly as the old leaves.

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Cycas revoluta, June 16, 2013

I love the way the leaflets unfurl like tiny fiddleheads.

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Cycas revoluta, June 16, 2013

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Cycas revoluta, June 16, 2013

Here are the new leaves against the Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridividatta’):

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Cycas revoluta, June 16, 2013

Like we did last year, let’s take a look at my three chestnut dioons (Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’). All three are flushing. One has just started…

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Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’, June 11, 2013

…one is a little further along…

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Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’, June 11, 2013

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Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’, June 11, 2013

…and one is done already. It produced four new leaves.

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Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’, June 11, 2013

The leaves resemble Cycas revoluta but become more bluish as they mature. New leaves are a bright green.

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Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’, June 11, 2013

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Some cultivation tips:

  • Cycads benefit from extra water when flushing. Don’t let them dry out completely, otherwise flushing might stop and/or the new leaves may not develop to their full size.
  • Regular doses of high-nitrogen fertilizer may promote flushing. Some growers report multiple flushes per year. Since last fall I’ve been giving my cycads additional fertilizer (an annual dose of time release Osmote Plus plus monthly feeding with soluble Miracle-Gro). There haven’t been any additional flushes yet but my sago palm does have almost 30% more new leaves this year than last year.
  • Here is an in-depth article on how to properly fertilize cycads: http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/cycads/NewDevelopmentsinFertilizingCycads.pdf. It also mentions one important aspect many people overlook: Tap water in most communities in the U.S. is (slightly) alkaline. According to the City of Davis, our tap water has a weighted average pH of 8.3. Alkaline water can prevent the effective conversion of nitrogen in the soil and lead to undernourished plants. I routinely acidify the water I use to irrigate my potted plants by adding a few teaspoons of distilled or white vinegar (very cheap in gallon jars) per 5-gallon bucket of tap water. Acidification is also promoted by many cactus growers; here is a good article on this topic.

6 comments:

  1. Fantastic cycads. Their flush must be one of the most exciting events.

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  2. Thanks for the great info Gerhard..my Dioon has not put on a leaf in a couple of years. I'm going to put in a bigger pot and hit it with some Maxsea acid food.

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  3. Thanks for all the pictures over time, really interesting to see!

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  4. Beautiful plants! I had a cycas once, it didnot end well. You have wonderful climate there though, if you can keep them out all year long!

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  5. Lucky you! With the delayed 'warm' season here we're still awaiting for any of our cycads to flush. Beautiful group of plants!

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  6. WOOW! Great job, for documenting how cycads blooms.. Awesome cycads!

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