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How to Care for a Cycad Plant

Updated February 21, 2017

Growing a cycad is like taking a look into the distant past. Cycads are members of the ancient gymnosperm group of plants that originated some 240 million years ago. Cycads are frost-tender plants that grow outdoors only in warm climates. In most of the United States, cycads are better suited for container growing. With the right care, cycads are hardy, low-maintenance plants that will add a lush element to your indoor living space.

Select a pot one inch larger than the nursery pot. A terracotta pot is best as it allows for good drainage and encourages the soil to dry out between watering. Select a pot that has drainage holes in the bottom.

Fill the bottom third of the pot with a well-draining potting soil mix. Premixed formulas designed for cacti and succulents work well. Any potting soil medium is adequate as long as it provides good drainage.

Slide the cycad out of the nursery pot and place it in the new pot with the base of the stem about one inch below the lip of the pot. Push more soil mix under the root system until it stands on its own in the pot. Fill the soil in around the rootball and press down gently.

Soak the pot until water seeps through the drainage holes in the bottom and leave the pot in a sink or outside to drain. Place the potted cycad on a sunny porch or in a window. Bring outdoor plants inside before the temperatures drop below 1.66 to 4.44 degrees C.

Fertilise your cycad four times a year. The University of Florida recommends an 18-6-8 for younger plants or a 24-7-8 fertiliser for larger cycads. A balanced 10-10-10 fertiliser is also suitable. Check the package for the appropriate application method and amount.

Water the cycad when the top three to four inches of soil feel dry to the touch. Apply enough water so that it begins to seep through the drainage holes in the bottom. If you have the pot on a saucer, be sure to empty it frequently to avoid standing water around the root system.

Things You'll Need

  • Planting pot
  • Potting mix
  • Fertiliser
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About the Author

Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.