Well used, cycads give gardens a lush, tropical feel with their majestic silver, blue-grey or green fronds in a crown of large leaves on top of soft thick stem or trunk. They also make handsome potted or feature plants. Cycads come from regions all over the world including from Australia. Native cycads are found in three plant families. The best-known genera are Macrozamia, Lepidozamia and Zamia.
They have been around for millions of years existing before the dinosaur period. The “Age of Cycads” was the predominate vegetation during the Jurassic period although their numbers and species have dwindled and some varieties have become endangered.
Cycads resembling palms and tree ferns. Some cycads are commonly known as palms – for example sago palm (Cycas revoluta), which is one of the most commonly grown cycads in gardens, even though they are not related to palms.
Cycads produce male and female cones on separate plants. They are classified as non-flowering plants known as gymnosperms as, like conifers, they produce seed in cones. Seed-bearing cones are found on female plants.
Aspect Most cycads prefer a full sun to light shade position and in nature often grow in dappled light under trees. There are however varieties that will grow in arid dry conditions with little rainfall.
Soil Cycads tolerate a wide range of soils but do best with good drainage. Cycads can be grown in containers using a premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix.
Climate There are cycad selections for every climate. Cycads are mainly tropical and subtropical but there are cycads from cooler and arid zones. Be guided in your selection by those that do well in your local climate. If you are unsure of a variety to suit your location, check with horticultural staff at your local hardware or garden centre who can advise you on a plant to suit your garden.