How to Prune a Sago Palm

Hi Judy! I moved into my home and four of these plants are lining the sidewalk to the front door. Problem is they’ve grown so much that they are now beginning to block the door. I can’t find what they are so I can take care and move them properly. Please help!

Hi Jason,

Long green Sago Palm fronds
Sago Palm

Your plant is called a Sago Palm. A Sago Palm is not really a Palm but a member of the Cycad Family and a relative of Conifers and Ginko Trees. Cycads, often called “living fossils,” are one of the oldest most primitive plant families and have not changed very much in the last 200 million years. A Sago Palm has a very rugged trunk 1”-12” in width depending upon the age of the plant. The trunk is topped with stiff narrow arching fronds that grow in a circular pattern. The Sago Palm is a very elegant slow growing plant, but remember, all parts are poisonous.

A Sago Palm does not like to be pruned when it is actively growing, so wait until the fall or early winter before trimming your plants. Sago Palms are very poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants plants, always wear gloves and long sleeves when pruning it. Be sure to wash any cutting tools you use when you are finished working on your plants. You can expose as much of the trunk as you want. This should hopefully clear the walkway leading to your front door.