Sago Palm Dead or Alive After Frost Damage: A Short Guide

Is your sago palm dead or alive? Especially for new plant caretakers, the signs can be hard to distinguish from. 

sago palm dead

The confusions are often associated with the condition of your sago palm after a freeze. In most cases, you thought your sago palm was dead. 

But out of the blue, as you for some reasons decided to keep it in your yard, it came back to life after several months.

How to know exactly if it is time to bid forever farewell with your plant?

By understanding the indicators of plant health, we can take necessary steps to revive and protect these tropical beauties from common threats and environmental stressors, ensuring a healthy and vibrant garden landscape.

In this article, we will delve into the visual cues and methods that experts use to determine the health of a sago palm.

Sago Palms and Cold Temperatures

sago palm dead

A healthy sago palm boasts vibrant green leaves and a firm trunk. These resilient plants can thrive in various settings, contributing to a lush and tropical atmosphere. 

Protecting sago palms from frost is crucial, as they are not cold-hardy and can suffer severe damage from freezing temperatures. 

Sago palms are hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11, but severe winter weather can damage or kill them. Usually, sago palm is able to undergo a short snap of 15° F.

But if it is left untended under the cold of 23° F or lower for a sustained period, it can perish.

When it does suffer frost damage, what you’ll see are yellow-ish brown or even leaves loss, which are sure signs the leaves are dead.

However, even as the fronds are unsalvageable, you still have one last hope with the trunk, which may still manage to hold tight to its last breath of life. 

How To Tell Sago Palm Dead or Alive After Frost Damage

sago palm dead

The first thing you should do after noticing your plant turning all frost defeated is to remove the dead fronds off if they are still attached to the palm.

Wait at least a month and check the trunk of the palm by trying to pull some of its nubs off. If they stay hard and stick to the trunk vigorously, it means the plant is still full of life even as the leaves are yet to resprout.

If they disintegrate easily, you’ll know the palm is gone. 

This does not mean you’ll have to purchase a new sago palm to fill in its place. Check its base if your palm has been producing babies. If it does, simply chop off the top of the palm and let them grow from it.

How Long Will Sago Palm Recover from The Dead

sago palm dead

Sometimes your sago palm won’t take until 2 to 3 months until new fronds are re-emerging.

Some other times, if it is so severely damaged by the freeze, you won’t see it exhibiting visible signs of life and thrive until 8 or 10 months later. 

Therefore, don’t be anxious if it is April already and the fronds are yet to return. Continue to give your plant the best care and love, it will come back eventually.

In the meantime, try not to fertilize it if it has not fully recovered. Instead, you should focus on proper watering and sufficient light. 

Sago Palm Going Dormant

Sago palms (Cycas revoluta) do not go fully dormant like deciduous trees, but they do experience periods of reduced growth during the winter months. 

This may result in yellowing or browning leaves, which can be removed to maintain the plant’s appearance. 

Even during this reduced growth phase, sago palms still require regular care, such as watering and fertilization. 

It’s important to note that sago palms are not true palms but rather cycads, with unique growth and care requirements.

sago palm dead

Proper Care for Sago Palm

To maintain a healthy sago palm, follow these care practices:

  • Ensure proper watering
  • Provide bright indirect sunlight
  • Maintain indoor temperatures of 65-75°F (18-24°C)
  • Fertilize twice a season with a slow-release, balanced formula
  • Prune selectively to remove dead or yellowing leaves

Adhering to these guidelines will help prevent a dying sago palm and maintain its overall health and appearance.


Determining if a sago palm is dead or alive requires careful observation of its leaves and trunk.

A sago palm with green leaves and a firm trunk is likely to be alive, while brown and withered leaves may indicate a dead plant.