How to grow Cycas or Cycad plant and care it?

A primitive, even prehistoric green plant, the cycad or Cycas is often likened to a palm tree because of the shape of its foliage and its stipe, a sort of thick, conical trunk. It has broad, pinnate, arched leaves edged with thorns. Lovers of light and heat, the Cycas or cycad is endowed with exceptional longevity. In pots, it’s very slow growth will however rarely allow it to exceed 1 m in height.

Description of Cycas

  • Latin name: cycad
  • Synonyms: fern-palm tree, mini-palm tree
  • Family: Cicadaceae
  • Origin: Japan
  • Flowering period: from June to August
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Plant Type: shrub plant
  • Type of vegetation: perennial
  • Type of foliage: evergreen

Characteristics of the Cycas

The cycad is a shrub plant belonging to the Cicadaceae family, often wrongly assimilated to the palm tree. Native to Japan, it can reach 6m in height in open ground, rarely more than 1m when grown in pots. It is distinguished by its exceptional longevity: several decades when all the growing conditions are met.

Its broad trunk, or stipe, blooms in long, pinnate, arching leaves that can reach 2 to 3 m in wingspan, and are inserted into the trunk by a long petiole. Large yellow flowers appear in summer in the heart of this wreath of leaves. The fruits of female cycads are ovoid in shape, measuring 3-4 cm in length.

The cycad is readily cultivated indoors, in pots, provided it benefits from sufficient light. It appreciates mild climates and does not support too large amounts of water.

How to maintain the Cycas?

Exposure Full sun except at noon
Watering Spring: every 2-3 days
Autumn & winter: once every 15 days
Fertilizer Spring: special liquid fertilizer for green plants every 15 days
Growth Maximum 1m
Diseases Mealybugs, red spiders, and thrips

Exhibition / Location

The cycad likes mild temperatures (20-22 ° C) and good exposure to the sun. Install it near a south or west-facing window, in full light. However, avoid placing it directly under the rays of the midday sun, as it could burn its foliage.

How to water the Cycas?

Neither too much nor too little: in spring, favor regular watering, every 2-3 days, letting the soil dry well.
In fall and winter, gradually space the waterings up to once every 15 days. The soil should be dry for a few centimeters.

Which fertilizer to use?

In spring, during the growth period, add a special liquid fertilizer for green plants every 15 days. Be careful, moisten the soil well beforehand.
Stop all intake between October and March-April.


The roots of the cycad cannot stand stagnant water. Leave a bed of gravel or clay balls at the bottom of its pot to facilitate water drainage.
Provide your palm fern with both hummus and porous soil: a mixture of potting soil, compost or garden soil, and sand.

To keep your cycads green foliagespray it daily.

How to report the Cycas?

Repotting is carried out every 2 to 3 years in a special green plant soil, possibly enriched with 1/3 of compost, and well-drained. Every year, a simple surfacing is enough: scrape over 4 to 5 cm and replace the old soil with fresh potting soil.

How to multiply it?

To obtain new cycads, propagation must carry out by seed.

How to prune the Cycas?

The growth of the mini palm is very slow. In pots, the plant rarely exceeds 1 m in height. Its longevity is however very important, and can follow you for many years … or even be passed on to your children!

No pruning is required. However, if you want to remove the yellowing leaves, use clean pruning shears and rub some charcoal over the cut area to help to heal.

Diseases and Parasites

Too much water or a lack of light can cause deformation or yellowing of the leaves. Correct the waterings if necessary, add more draining soil, and favor a sunny position.

If the leaves turn yellow but shoot appear, this is the natural course of the plant. Optionally remove the dried leaves, or let them come off on their own.

Young cycads are more easily preyed upon by pests such as mealybugs, red spiders, or thrips.


Cycad is poisonous, especially to animals. If swallowed, contact the poison control center.

Some species of Cycas

  • The cycad revoluta: one of the most cultivated species of cycads. Native to Japan and Taiwan, hardy to -8 ° C for short periods;
  • The cycad revoluta Aurea: cycad revoluta with leaves edged with golden yellow;
  • The cycads debaoensis: rare variety bipinnate leaves, glossy, green;
  • The Cycas Rumphii: not rustic, this variety has long flexible sheets;
  • The cycad panzhihuaensis, or blue cycad: hardy down to -10 ° C, these leaves offer a dark green to bluish-green color;