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How to grow cycads

Information about cycads

Cycads are such amazing plants and although there is much information about growing them in this Houzz feature article which includes two Cultivart gardens, here is some special advice for us Perthites. Cycads prefer an acid soil like Camellias and Azaleas so they can absorb the nutrients they require. Driving around Perth, Im sure you have all seen those Cycads that look like they have a bad case of sunburn with their fronds emerging brown and withered. This is called Frizzletop and it’s because Perth soils can be  quite alkaline (limey) and on top of this, the mains water we use to water our plants also has a high ph making it also alkaline. To counter act this so that you have lovely healthy cycads, you will need to prepare the soil before planting.

Modify the ph of the soil

I use Greenlife low ph acid blend soil when planting but you could also use a good quality Peat with a low ph as part of the mix. I like to add plenty of organic matter to the soil too, but avoid Dynamic Lifter or fertilisers created from Chicken manure as it will be too alkaline. In fact, many Palms also require a rich organic acid soil; think Camellia, Gardenia and Azalea when you plant palms and cycads. Cycads also like Manganese but they can’t absorb it if the soil isn’t right. I feed my cycads at frondburst with manganese sulphate. I sprinkle it around the base of the plant and water it in well. If the growing conditions are right, this is a very hardy plant that will mature into a beautiful sculptural addition to the garden. If you already have a cycad that is suffering, you will need to modify the ph of the soil it is growing in. Cut off the damaged fronds as they won’t recover. Amending the soil after the fact is always more difficult to achieve but it is possible. Check online, for ways of lowering soil PH and then once you have your first burst of healthy fronds, you have been successful. Keep an eye on the soil ph with regular testing and don’t forget the feed of Manganese.