Cold Temperatures Damage Your Sago Palm? Why You Should Wait To Prune

If you love the look of your sago palm, you probably cringe when you hear the weatherperson say that the temperatures are about to dip below freezing. If the forecast is correct and you soon notice damage on your palm, you might think that replacing it is the only answer. If you prune the damage off, your sago will flourish once again. However, don't run out and prune it immediately because this can lead to more problems. This guide explains why you need to wait to prune your sago palm after a freeze.

There May Be Hidden Damage

Frost or a deep freeze can hurt your sago in ways that you can't see right away. The thinking that you can prune off damaged limbs and all will be okay is somewhat flawed because if the freezing temperatures last for several hours, the damage can spread to the roots and you may not see it until later.

Wait until the spring to prune so that you can see all of the damage that's occurred and remove it as well.  

More Freezing Weather Can Occur Later

Because the majority of sago palms are in areas where the weather is mild and freezing temperatures don't happen often, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that another cold snap won't occur. Be wise about bipolar weather conditions, and realize that freezing temperatures can occur during the early spring.

If you prune off damaged leaves and think that you're in the clear, more freezing temps could come later and do even more damage to freshly pruned fronds. At this point, your sago could end up damaged past the point of repair.  

Damaged Leaves Can Protect the Sago

As unsightly as frost-damaged leaves are on a sago palm, they provide a little protection to the trunk, roots and new spouts from additional frosty conditions. The fronds grow to about 3 feet, so they take on more damage themselves. If you take them off, leaving newer sprouts and undamaged leaves exposed, you'll only wind up pruning more off.

Pay close attention to weather forecasts when the temperatures begin to cool off. If a freeze or frost warning is called for, cover your sago palms with plastic the night before. The plastic helps protect the tree from damage that freezing temperatures can do by creating an insulation barrier. Remove the plastic in the morning when the temperatures rise above freezing. Ask your landscape professional at places like 5 Star Lawnscaping for other ideas to protect your sago palms and for other seasonal pruning tips.