Despite its name and appearance, the sago palm (Cycas revoluta) isn't a true palm. Instead, it belongs to the cycad family (Cycadaceae), a group of ancient plants that dominated landscapes during the Permian Era more than 200 million years ago. Also known as the king sago and the Japanese funeral palm, this tree thrives outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. Following proper watering techniques helps you keep your sago palm healthy and attractive.
Create a 4-inch tall berm around the edge of the sago palm's root ball immediately after planting. Extend the berm out to about 12 inches away from the trunk. This berm helps direct the water to the tree's roots during irrigation.
Place a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulching material inside of the berm, keeping it at least 3 inches away from the trunk. The mulch helps maintain a consistent soil moisture while preventing the growth of nutrient- and moisture-stealing weeds.
Water your sago palm tree deeply immediately after planting. Place a slow-running garden hose inside of the berm, and let it run until the water reaches the top edge. Allow the water to soak into the soil, then refill the berm. Repeat this process until the top 10 inches of soil receives moisture.
Keep the root ball and the top 10 inches of surrounding soil consistently moist for the first four to six months after planting. This allows the tree to develop a deep root system, which will help it effectively handle future drought conditions.
Water established sago palms once a week during stretches of hot weather and about once every two weeks during cooler weather. Allow the water to penetrate the top 10 inches of soil during each irrigation session.