Re: Cycas revoluta Dilemma
Posted by Tom Broome on 3/12/2012, 12:26 am, in reply to "Cycas revoluta Dilemma"
: I hope someone will be able to help me
: with a dilemma I am having with my
: cycad. Even if it's too late for my
: Cycas, I would very much love to
: learn about what went wrong so that
: I can take measures to avoid similar
: consequences in the future.
: I have a Cycas revoluta that I
: purchased as a 3 gallon on sale at a
: local nursery last year. It did not
: appear to have produced any new
: leaves as some of the others in the
: sale area. It was the biggest one. I
: thought it was a great deal. I
: repotted it some time before I
: brought it in for the winter. I did
: not want to risk losing it to a
: harsh winter. Upon repotting it in a
: 5 gallon container, I noticed some
: odd growths on the roots (of which I
: thought might be the result of root
: nematode damage). Looking back, I
: realize that breaking off some of
: the root growths was probably not a
: good idea, but at the time I thought
: it might help the plant.
: Well, over the winter, my Cycas has
: slowly been browning from the bottom
: up. I have done my best not to water
: too much, and it has not been
: exposed to extremely cold
: temperatures. It's been kept in an
: unheated garage most of the winter.
: My questions are: Is it slowly
: succumbing to something that I did
: wrong or did not notice? Is there
: anything I can do to save it? Is
: there a potential that it may still
: survive? Or is it not dying at all
: and it is a situation that I am
: overreacting to?
: Any information or direction to a
: potentially helpful resource or
: learning guide would be greatly
: appreciated. Thanks! If there is a
: need for further information, do not
: hesitate to ask.
You are probably just fine. I get people calling me on the phone, or sending me a private e-mail trying to find out what is wrong with their plant like this at least every week of my life, especially in the winter. It always comes down to the fact that people are told that cycads want to be dry between waterings, which is not true at all. They keep it dry, where at the nursery they came from, the plants might have been watered every single day, or at least every other day. I get people from like Michigan who bring their plants inside and only water their plants once every other week to once every three weeks, and then they wonder why the lower leaves are turning brown. The fact is that cycads need good drainage, but like I talk about in my water article, in my website, cycads want to be uniformly moist. Not dry and not wet, just slightly moist. Bring your plant out soon for the spring and start watering it like you should now, and your plant should be fine.
On the other situation, did the weird root structure you saw look like a small corral head? I'm sure the people you bought it from would have no clues to what that could be, but cycads have a very special secondary root system, called corraloid roots. These roots grow to the surface of the soil, or out the holes in the sides of the pots. Cycads have a symbiotic relationship with a blue green algae that infests these roots, and then the roots can take nitrogen out of the air and turns it into fertilizer for the plant to use. This is why a cycad in habitat that is growing on solid rock can grow to be 1500 years old without any nutrients at all. If you removed the mass, you haven't done anything terrible, but the next time you see one of these come out, be happy it is there and marvel at how amazing cycads are that they have survived all these millions of years.