Watering a Sago Palm House Plant
I purchased two Sago Palm house plants and when I got them there were tiny rocks on the top of the dirt. These rocks seem to be almost glued together in place to cover the dirt as a decorative measure. I read the insert that came with it and it says to water when top inch of soil is dry; however, with the rocks on top I cannot tell when/if it is dry. I tried to dig some of the rocks away to give me a little nook so I could check the dirt but I really can't tell. The plants rest on my bay window with a lot of light, that being said, can you give me an idea of how often I should be watering it. Being I cannot feel the dirt, I've just been watering them a little bit once a week, is that sufficient or too much? I've always wanted these, I love these plants and am so afraid I'm going to kill them before I even have the opportunity to enjoy them. Your advice is greatly appreciated.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Water and fertilize as normal. Water the plant until water comes out through the bottom (allow water coming out from the bottom to run out). The exact amount will vary depending on the size of the plant and its conditions. Allow the soil to dry before watering again. If the plant is yellowing, you are most likely over watering. This article may also help: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/hpgen/how-to-water-a-plant.htm
Many people choose to remove these stones, especially when repotting. While there is nothing that will dissolve the glue well that won't hurt the plant, you can try to scrape or file away some of it, though you would be best leaving some of it there. Just remove what you can without damaging the plant. It is ok if some remains. After that, you can just care for the plant (or repot) as normal.
This article will help with caring for sagos: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/sago-palm/how-to-care-for-sago-palms.htm
P.S. Re: those rocks. Gluing rocks onto the surface of plants is only for the benefit of the shippers and retailers, not the plants or people who want to keep them healthy. Get them off any way you can. Don't be afraid of injuring the plant. (Well ok, don't get crazy, now.) If you like the look of the rocks or gravel, you can get a bagful at any craft store, and just put some on the top of the soil, so they can be moved aside for soil testing.
OK. Dig up those stones! If they're glued to the sides of the pot, get out your pick axe! You have to be able to examine the soil. Sago palms like well drained soil - hopefully that's what you have here , and they hate wet feet. So you need to test the soil all the way to the bottom of the pot. It should be almost dry, just barely sticking together if you squeeze it between your fingers, before you water again. When you do water, allow about 1/4" to collect in the saucer. No need to empty it. At first you might want to check the soil every few days, but when you know how fast your plant is using water, you will probably find that watering once a week, or even every other week, will work.