Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sago Palm White Spots

I'm writing this article only because there are still people destroying their Sago palms because they think they're dying of white spot disease. I saw one person a couple of streets away rip out a once large, beautiful Sago because the plant died due to white spot.

What is Sago palm white spot? It's cycad aulacaspis scale infestation(also known as Asian cycad scale and sago palm scale), which is a pest not a disease. Originally from Southern Texas it has migrated to northerly regions that can sustain a Sago in the winter months. The Sago, contrary to popular belief, is not a palm but a cycad.

Wikipedia defines Cycad as: Cycads are a group of seed plants characterized by a large crown of compound leaves and a stout trunk. They are evergreen, gymnospermous, dioecious plants having large pinnately compound leaves.

Left untreated the scale pest can destroy a Sago in as little time as a month. The white scale pots are unmistakable as they look like severe dandruff in the middle of the plant, spreading out onto the green of the branches. Essentially, the scale sucks the life out of the plant until it's no longer able to sustain it's life anymore.

Treatment options are many. Ones that actually work, few! Various schools and extensions recommend herbicidal sprays and oils, even pressure washing the plant to dislodge the scale. I don't know about you but getting hit with the spray of a pressure washer hurts me so what will it do to the slender shoots of the plant? There is an alternative that I found on ONE post on the Internet that actually worked! It didn't cost and arm and a leg and it's easily found in any stores pet department that sells Hartz Mountain products.

Hartz Ultra Guard Plus Flea & Tick HOME Spray. I must be specific here because there are 2 kinds of this spray, one that will work and one that won't. The one for the dogs will burn the plant, evidently it's stronger. You MUST get the one for the Home, not the pet! Last year my Sago was so white I thought I'd have to dig it up to prevent it from spreading but I surfed first and found this spray. I applied 2 treatments a day apart when it would be dry outside, not rainy. I still have that Sago in the yard and I treated it today due to new white spot popping up. The end of the week the plant will be all green, no white left. I've used it and it works and the spray bottle will last you several seasons and is not expensive. Sago's aren't cheap and if you want to keep yours alive this is an economical way to do it that won't hurt the plant. See photo below for product description.


Anonymous said...

Our sago had white scale all over it at the end of last season, even after spraying with a flea spray (guess we got the wrong one!). So my husband cut off all of the fronds and left the entire trunk. Will we have any new growth this year?

Dave said...

I know the spray for the pet itself is not the right one. Other articles I came across also stressed this point. The one I have pictured, Hartz for the home, is the correct one. The scale almost never completely disappear and several treatments will get it looking pretty nice again. I'm in the same situation you are right now but for a different reason. A couple of hard freezes in Florida slammed my palms (Sago isn't really a palm plant, it's a member of the Cycad family and are as old as the Jurasic era dinosaurs) and my Sago is brown to the base. Sago's are very attractive but do require attention to remain that way and sometimes they die anyways.
Good luck and let me know how you make out, be patient.

Anonymous said...

Our sago had a particularly severe scale infestation, so severe that my husband cut off all the fronds last winter. There it stood, totally "naked" all winter with evidence of the white scale appearing on the seeds. Miraculously, beautiful new fronds appeared in April. We continue to treat the sago regularly with oil spray but will try the Hartz treatment instead.
Be patient. Good luck!