What is Attacking My Sago's?

Angela Elder
by Angela Elder
Anybody know what the white stuff is? It is on 2 of my Sago's in my front yard.
  14 answers
  • Your Sago is infested with either Scale or Mealy bugs both which need to to be treated with insecticidal soaps & horticultural oils and sprays. You will also have to treat the soil because of these pests lay eggs and will come back. You can also use rubbing alcohol by rubbing each leaf with a cotton ball or q-tip with rubbing alcohol but it appears your Sagos are rather large. You can also try rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and spray the plant. I have read that putting coffee grounds around the base help deter the pests. Whatever you do, you need to take action now. I would make sure to treat these plants every few days to eradicate any future infestations. So if you have nothing to treat right now, then I suggest giving your sagos a shower with a solution of water and Ivory dishwashing liquid. Getting all the white pests off. then rinse well. Then get to the store for insecticidal soap to treat the plant every few days. Repot? Or are they in the ground? Treat the soil accordingly. good luck
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Oct 29, 2013
    A particular type of scale affects sago palms, Cycad Aulacaspis Scale, and it can kill them if you do not act. It has been a problem in Florida for years, and there are are sections of the state where there are almost no sagos left. See advice here: http://polkmastergardener.ifas.ufl.edu/hot_topics/sago_palm_white_stuff.shtml
    • Sandra R Sandra R on Oct 30, 2013
      @Douglas Hunt Verdegro's in Bunnell will not carry Sago's due to the scale problem. it can affect other plants in the nursery.
  • K4_249269 K4_249269 on Oct 29, 2013
    I agree
  • Angela Elder Angela Elder on Oct 29, 2013
    Thanks so much for the info, I will start right away! They are quite large, at least 4-5 feet across and about 5 feet high, in the ground. I have also heard since I posted this that others all over town are experiencing the same thing. This is the first time I have ever had a problem. I will definitely have to spray them, as there are too many leaves to wipe by hand. I also drink a lot of coffee and will use those grounds around the bottoms. Thanks again!!
  • Kendra Jones Kendra Jones on Oct 30, 2013
    I would have to agree. when I first saw it my thought was scales. good luck!
  • Kathy Kathy on Oct 30, 2013
    I saved mine by spraying it with Pam. Tried and true. This really works!
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Oct 30, 2013
    yuck that makes me skin crawl! Good luck to you !@Douglas Hunt has provided some excellent information and advise for you. Let us know the results
  • April E April E on Oct 30, 2013
    fuzzy scale 1 you need to use a systemic insecticide. 2 cut off any real bad fronds and then clean the insects off with dishsoap and water. you will need to reapply the systemic every 3 weeks for at least 4 applications then you can cut back to every 6-8 weeks to maintain them insect free. I would also soapwash them at the same time I applied the systemic for the first 4 applications. you can use a hose on sprayer for the soap application to make it easier but you do need to clean them off so they can transpire. because scale doesn't nessessarly kill by feeding they kill by suffocation
  • Sandra R Sandra R on Oct 30, 2013
    our local large nursery will not carry them due to the severe spread of the scale.
  • Kat Davis-Moran Kat Davis-Moran on Nov 03, 2013
    white scales, grrr just got these nasty things on my cat whisker plants, take off the infected parts, i washed them in lemon dishsoap, sprayed with alcohol then a good insecticide
  • Beth Barney Beth Barney on Nov 04, 2013
    Also remember that this becomes air borne, too. So after treating with your insectidical soap spray for several times then carefully cut off and place in a bag so as not to spread. Just treat like it's a communicable disease, :) To manage my 2 sagos, I spray periodically with a mixture of Murphy's oil soap and water and they have become beautiful again.
  • Angela Elder Angela Elder on Nov 04, 2013
    I can't really cut off the infected parts without cutting the entire plants leaves off. The whole thing is infested. All that will be left will be the trunk. If I spray them will the ones that come off into the grass affect some other plant or is it just the Sago they like?
    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Nov 05, 2013
      @Angela Elder This scale is particular to cycads, of which your sago is one member of the family. Follow the directions I gave above.
  • Angela Elder Angela Elder on Nov 05, 2013
    Thank you Douglas!
  • Angela Elder Angela Elder on Oct 28, 2016
    An update......I ended up removing them altogether and replacing them with pygmy palms. Turns out, almost every single sago in our town is infected. There are some really old ones here too, some that were kept as "trees" instead of bushy, about 25 feet tall, and even those are infected. Our whole town may lose all of them. I live in Lake Jackson Texas....(about 60 miles South of Houston, and 8 minutes from the coast)