How to plant and cultivate a cycad?

Tips and tricks for growing cycads

The cycad is this funny plant that looks both like a fern and a palm tree, but which is not. A plant from hot countries is ultra-decorative which it is better not to rub against or get stung … but which has its place in the garden or in the house, provided you know how to take care of it. From planting to maintenance, we’ve prepared a complete guide to grow cycads!

The characteristics of the cycad

  • Type: tree plant
  • Height: 60 cm to 10 m
  • Flower colors: yellow
  • Desired exposure: sunny
  • Soil type: potting soil
  • Foliage: persistent
  • Sanitizer: yes
  • Varieties: Cycas rumphii, Cycas circinalis (false sago palm or large cycad), Cycas debaoensis, Cycas revoluta (sago palm or Japanese cycad), Cycas panzhihuaensis (blue cycad), Cycas revoluta Aurea (yellow cycad)…

Origins and particularities of the cycad

Cycads include 107 species of the Cycadaceae family, scattered in hot countries from East Africa to Southeast Asia. They are found in Madagascar or New Caledonia, in the Great African Rift, or in Tonga … This is why cycads evoke vacations and tropical paradises, are popular in the south or near swimming pools! Cycads are above all one of the oldest shrub plants still present on the planet. Venerable old ladies, therefore, who grow slowly, but long, and turn into trees several meters tall in their natural habitat.

Be careful, there is no question of bringing them back in the suitcases: all cycad species are protected by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Last detail to know, these shrubs are poisonous: we do not touch them without washing our hands and we closely monitor children or pets.

Plantation of cycas

The cycad is a plant from hot countries and does not support the cold. To plant it outside, we first find out about the species, some hardy varieties withstanding lower temperatures, such as cycas revoluta. When in doubt, it is better to reserve the planting of cycads in the garden in hot regions and moderate climates. If the weather is too chilly, however, one can easily grow potted cycads to the inside, just take it out on the terrace in the summertime to enjoy the summer.

As for planting it well, drainage is key! In the ground, we dig a good size hole, we deposit a layer of clay balls, pebbles, or gravel to facilitate the evacuation of the water. Once the cycad is installed, it is then filled with a mixture of half earth, half compost, or potting soil to enrich. All between March and April or October and November. In pots, beware of the size of the cycad: it must be comfortable, especially as it will grow. We, therefore, choose a pot of good size, we place there again balls of clay or pebbles then we repot the cycads with a classic soil for green plants.

Maintenance of the cycad

Once properly planted, the cycad will grow quietly, at its own pace. A shrub planted in the ground requires almost no maintenance, a simple annual surfacing with sufficient enrichment such as compost to boost it. In pots, growing cycads requires regular repotting in a larger pot, every two to three years on average. The rest of the time, it needs water and sun: if its location suits it and the watering is well dosed, it flourishes easily.

Arrosage du cycas

Watering the cycad is one of its two essential survival conditions, the second being light. The cycad likes humidity but hates excess … in other words, it is watered rather little and regularly than a lot at once. The higher the temperature and the greater the amount of sunshine, the more water it needs. In spring and summer, watering every two or three days is often necessary. In winter, once a week or every two weeks is sufficient. The right reflex? We touch. If the earth is dry for several centimeters, the plant is thirsty, we water.

Cycad diseases

Rustic and resistant, the cycad is not very susceptible to diseases. Its leaves can sometimes warp if the plant lacks water or sunlight, especially for potted cycads. In this case, we try to place it in a place more exposed to the sun and increase the watering rate, without flooding it. Yellowing and falling leaves, on the other hand, are a normal phenomenon in the leaf renewal cycle, no need to worry! And if the phenomenon persists, then again, it is usually a problem of exposure or watering.