How to Dig Up a Sago Palm

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A sago palm is one of the easiest palm trees to care for, although it is technically not a palm tree but a cycad. A sago palm pushes out all of its new leaves at once. So, the best time of year to dig up your sago palm for transplant is in the winter or early spring, before it begins growing. Digging up the sago palm inevitably damages some of its roots. However, uprooting the sago early in the day takes the edge off some of the shock the sago experiences.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Garden shears
  • Shovel
  • Measure 6 to 12 inches away from the base of the sago's trunk. A smaller sago with a trunk diameter of 6 inches or less has less of a root ball than a larger sago with a trunk diameter of 10 inches. If the sago's trunk is much larger than 10 inches, lifting it is a nearly impossible task and professional help is recommended.

  • Cut off the lower layer or two of leaves using garden shears. This gives you more working room underneath the sago as well as protects the sago's apex, the point where the leaves emerge. If the sago suffers much root damage, the heavy leaves droop and tear the apex, killing the plant.

  • Push the tip of a shovel into the ground at the measured distance from the trunk. Lift it up, move down a few inches and push it in again. Continue until you have marked a circle in the ground, around the sago.

  • Angle the shovel slightly toward the sago and push it into the ground. Wiggle the shovel back and forth to loosen the dirt. Work your way around the sago. Ask a friend to help hold the sago in place as you work.

  • Stop digging once the hole is approximately 12 inches deep. Hold the sago palm near the trunk's base and carefully lift it out of the hole. Be careful not to damage the trunk during removal. Transplant the sago in its new hole as soon as possible.

Tips & Warnings

  • Tie the sago palm's leaves up with a zip-tie to keep them out of your way while digging.

References

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