Separating and planting sago palm pups

Q: My prized sago palm bloomed last summer and died. I kept the stump and now I have eight saplings sprouting up from around the base . When and how should I separate them ?

A: Those little pups are relatively easy to separate from the father plant. I say “father plant” because the bloom reveals this is a male sago palm. All of the pups will be male. I think the best time to do the operation is in mid spring. A sharp, serrated knife will help cut the connection between pup and dad.

First thing is to vacuum the soil from around the pups… or you could wash it away. When you see how the connection works, firmly pull, twist and cut until you have each one separate.

On each, clip away all but a couple of leaves. Fill an 8 inch wide pot with cactus soil. Press each pup into the soil so it is half covered and half exposed. Place the pots in a bright outdoor area, not in full sun. Water occasionally but never let the soil get really soggy.

In a couple of months you’ll see new leaves growing.