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The Ultimate Cardboard Palm Care Guide: Water, Light, Nutrients

Cardboard Palm is an impressive and easy-to-care-for plant. Its unique appearance makes it an excellent choice for indoor gardens and greenhouses!

This post will go through the do’s and don’ts when raising your Cardboard Palm. We have a few affordable choices for you to consider if you want to purchase one for yourself. Read on to discover more about Zamia’s alluring qualities!

What Is Cardboard Palm?

The Cardboard Palm (Zamia Furfuracea), despite its common name, is not a real palm tree. It was named for its growth pattern, which resembles palm trees. Cardboard Palms have pinnate leaves or leaves made up of several little leaflets on either side of a stem. Each leaflet is deep green, oval-shaped, and has a cardboard-like texture.

Also known as Cardboard Plant, Cardboard Cycad, Jamaican Sago, and Mexican Cycad, this impressive plant is famous for its enticing foliage. The brightest windows or any brightly lit area indoors are the ideal locations for Zamia Palms.

When grown outdoors, it is only recommended for hardiness zones 9-11 for higher survivability.

Cardboard Palm Origin And Family

Believed to have existed since the dinosaur era, this prehistoric plant originates from the Zamia genus, which is part of the Zamiaceae family. The forests of Mexico are home to this plant.

Cardboard Plant has become a popular indoor plant in recent years, thriving in most households that give it plenty of sun.

Where To Buy

Are you looking to buy a Cardboard Palm? It may be purchased for a reasonable price from a nursery or home improvement center.

When shopping for houseplants online, we recommend Etsy– a reliable marketplace where most of our plants come from!

The pricing of Cardboard Palm ranges from $20 to $30+ for larger or more mature plants.

The plant may be affordable, but it is hard to come by for several reasons: it is considered endangered and not easy to propagate.

Cardboard Palm Plant Size

As a houseplant, the Cardboard Palm reaches between 3-5 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide when mature. This plant will thrive near the brightest window.

Cardboard Palm Care Needs

Most plants, including Cardboard Palm, are easy to grow with the proper care.

Known for its enticing foliage, it prefers sun and evenly moist soil.

Read on for more Cardboard Palm details.

Cardboard Palm Care Difficulty

The Cardboard Cycad is typically considered easy to care for in most circles. For growing conditions, the primary considerations are the well-draining soil and the amount of light that this plant has.

Cardboard Palm Growth Rate

The Jamaican Sago Palm grows 3-5 feet in height as a potted plant indoors. Its growing season is in the spring.

Most Zamia species, including Furfuracea, have a slow growth rate.

Cardboard Palm Potting

You can use a large pot size made of clay or terracotta for potting requirements. An essential requirement is that the pot has good drainage. Leaving your Cardboard Plant in wet soil for extended periods could kill your plant.

Cardboard Palm Repotting

Cardboard Palm typically needs to be repotted every 2-3 years or when you notice roots pushing out the drainage holes. When this happens, carefully remove the plant from its pot and do not disrupt the primary root ball. You can then transfer the plant into a bigger pot. When roots are put on the same soil they are accustomed to; they will adapt more quickly.

Cardboard Palm Soil

Cardboard Palm grows well when grown in standard commercial potting soil. If you want to make your own, add equal parts peat moss and sand instead of purchasing a medium. This plant likes its soil to stay evenly moist.

Additionally, adequate drainage is critical to avoid fungal diseases, root rot, and other issues.

These are some soil options we recommend:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $15.70 ($0.04 / Ounce)
Burpee, 9 Quarts...image Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant $12.99 ($0.04 / Ounce)
Sun Gro Horticulture...image Sun Gro Horticulture 8-Quart Black Gold 1310102 Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $14.68 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix,...image Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, Potting Soil for Outdoor and Indoor Plants, Enriched with Plant Food, 2 cu. ft. $34.54
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quarts | The Hydroponic City Stake $23.99 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)

Cardboard Palm pH

You’ll want to aim for a mildly acidic pH between 6. A standard commercial potting soil will have a pH level close to this range, so you shouldn’t worry too much.

If you see some problems with your plant, you could do a pH test on the soil to see if this is the culprit.

Cardboard Palm Water

Proper watering is essential for your Cardboard Palm Tree. Overwatering puts plants at risk for illnesses like root rot. The roots of your plant may dry up if you water it insufficiently, especially on warm days. Cardboard Plants should have a growing medium that is evenly moist and well-drained soil.

The Cardboard plant can store water in its trunk (reserved for times of drought), so you don’t need to regularly water this hardy plant. However, there is a quick and easy technique to tell whether your plant needs watering. Check to see whether muddy, damp soil is still adhering to a wooden skewer or pencil inserted into the pot. Alternatively, you may check for dampness with your finger.

Excess moisture may be reduced with the aid of an aerated, chunky soil mixture and a permeable container with drainage holes.

Cardboard Palm Light

Coming from the forests of Mexico, this plant is used to receiving partial shade to full sun. In an indoor setting, at least 6 hours of bright light is the recommended hours of exposure for your Cardboard Palm.

If the light is too bright for your plant’s liking, its leaves may get scorched. When this happens, move your plant away from the window or use curtains and blinds to filter the light coming in.

On the other hand, if your Furfuracea is not getting as much light as it needs, it may get leggy and grow lopsided if only a part gets enough light. In this case, you can move your plant closer to a window. You can also supplement it with grow lights. We recommend the following artificial lighting products:

Cardboard Palm Fertilizer

Feed your Cardboard Cycad to give it some extra nutrient boost. Use a slow-release fertilizer twice a year (once at the start of spring and another at the beginning of autumn) during its growing season in the early spring.

Here are some plant food options you can use:

When growth naturally slows down in the winter months, you don’t need to fertilize.

Avoid supplying fertilizers to your Cardboard Plant, as it may severely damage or even kill it.

Propagating Cardboard Palm

The Cardboard Palm can be propagated from the comfort of your home. However, it may be more challenging because regular cuttings or divisions won’t work. This plant can only be propagated through the seeds they produce.

Growers often collect the bright red, extremely short-lived seeds from cones developed by the female plant. If you can quickly harvest the seeds from your female plant, follow these instructions:

Fill a small seed starter pot with moistened sandy soil and plant the seeds you harvested from your female plant.

Keep the pots in a warm location with moderate light. Use a warming pad or make sure the temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Transfer the plant into a larger pot once two sets of leaves have grown and the roots are sturdy. Patiently wait for your new Cardboard Palm plant to grow.

Humidity And Aeration for Cardboard Palm

Your Cardboard Palm needs low to moderate humidity for rich-colored leaves and lush growth.

You can buy a humidifier and put it close to your plants if you’re worried about the humidity or see browning edges on the leaves of your plants. The health of your Furfuracea will significantly improve as a result of this upgrade.

Cardboard Palm Temperature

Your Jamaican Sago will prosper in a warm area, so keep the temperature between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Like most Zamia plants, this impressive houseplant loves consistent temperatures throughout the year and avoid watering with hot or cold water. Keep it distant from heat sources (such as furnaces and vents) and cold temperatures and sources (such as open windows during the winter).


The Cardboard Palm does not flower. Mature or larger plants produce egg-shaped (female plants) and oval-shaped cones (male plants) found in the center of the plant that, when ripe, reveal bright red seeds that are known to be toxic to pets and humans.


Be on guard if you have small children or pets in your home. The Cardboard Cycad is highly hazardous to pets, including cats, dogs, and humans. All parts of the plants from the Cycad family contain cycasin and an unidentified nervous system toxin that, when ingested, may cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, liver and kidney failure, paralysis, and eventual death. The seeds alone are poisonous enough that they can kill small mammals.

Currently, no treatment for poisoning is available, so this plant is considered life-threatening.

Toxic To Pets? Care Specifics
Botanical Name Cardboard Palm
Common Name Cardboard Plant, Cardboard Cycad, Jamaican Sago
Plant Family Zamiaceae
Origin Mexico
Plant Type perennial
Leaf Shape oval
Leaf Color bright green
Recommended Home Placement near the brightest window
Growth Rate slow
Light artial shade to full sun
Soil standard commercial potting soil
When To Water Water ?MISSING?.
When To Fertilize twice a year (once at the start of spring and another at the beginning of autumn) during growing season
Preferred pH 6
Humidity Range ?MISSING?
Toxic To Pets? Yes – symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, liver and kidney failure, paralysis, and eventual death
Common Pests & Diseases spider mites, brown tips, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, drooping leaves

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Cardboard Palm

Even with expert care, things can go wrong from time to time. Pests and diseases are unavoidable aspects of gardening. As a whole, the Cardboard Palm is a disease and pest-resistant plant.

Read the following sections for tips on diagnosing common problems and discovering ways you can help your plant return to a healthy condition.

Spider Mites

Indoor plants can sometimes bring uninvited visitors to your home in the form of pests. The spider mite is one such example. The adult mites can be seen quickly scurrying around when disturbed, but the larvae won’t be visible.

Neem oil mixed with water may be sprayed on the leaves of your plant to help get rid of spider mite larvae. Sprays made of organic Pyrethrin are also available and work well at eliminating adult mites. Be careful to pick pesticides that are safe for people to breathe when you apply them indoors.

Scale Insects

Scale insects might look like lumps on the stems or your Cardboard Palm’s deep dark green leaves. These little bugs, which can come as green, gray, black, or brown, usually stay sedentary once they’ve fastened onto a plant.

Use a teaspoon of neem oil mixed in four cups of water to prevent scale insects from attacking your plant if the infestation isn’t too bad. Spray the plant ferociously with a spray bottle.

Even while neem oil and horticultural oils may not completely eradicate pests, they will surely suffer some damage. There are numerous insecticide sprays against scales that are regarded as safe to use indoors.

Brown Leaf Tips

Brown leaf tips on your Cardboard Plant can be due to root damage, low humidity, underwatering, and soil compactness.

On occasion, flushing the soil with water for a few minutes may be necessary to remove extra minerals, salts, fertilizers, and pesticides. If you have a pot with drainage holes and a fast-draining substrate, you shouldn’t have any trouble accidentally drowning your plant’s roots.

Drooping Leaves

A wilting, droopy appearance on your Cardboard Palm indicates distress. Possible causes of drooping leaves are overwatering, underwatering, excessive light exposure, lack of light, and low humidity.

Yellow Leaves

Sometimes, you may see yellow leaves on your Cardboard Cycad, which can be a sign of trouble. Moisture stress, poor lighting, nutritional imbalance, insect infestations, bacterial or viral infections, shifting temperatures, and many more factors might contribute to this issue.

You must take into account recent weather changes or how you take care of your plant to focus on the issue.

Root Rot

Root rot is a significant threat to Jamaican Sago. Indoor gardeners tend to overwater their plants or need to remember to provide proper drainage. Rotting roots will appear black and mushy, leading to a plant’s decline and eventual death. Prevention is always better than cure, just as the saying goes.

The easiest way to prevent root rot is to regulate water intake. Prolong the gap between watering schedules, especially when your plant doesn’t receive enough sunlight and wind to dry the soil. Also, don’t forget to drill holes in the bottom of your pot to allow the water to drain!

Soil aeration is just as crucial in preventing root rot. If your soil tends to become compact and water-logged, add chunky and airy materials such as perlite, pumice, orchid bark, horticultural coal, coco chunks, river sand, and many others.

Similar Plants to Cardboard Palm

Love Cardboard Plant? Here are some other similar plant options you should try:

Ponytail Palm Tree – Not a palm, a tree, but a succulent. This fascinating plant has visuals like no other – lush, long, and curly leaves held together by a sleek and bulb-like trunk make up this stunning plant.

Parlor Palm – One of the most common indoor palms is the Parlor Palm which is valued for its ability to tolerate lower temperatures and adapt to relatively low light. Parlor palms are an excellent choice for beginners to start all palm plants.

Areca Palm – One of the palms most frequently utilized for indoor gardens is the Areca Palm. With graceful fronds that arch artistically, these hardy plants attract notice.


The Cardboard Palm is attractive if you’re looking for a fascinating plant with a bit of flair. Its enticing foliage is a true treat.

You can’t get enough of Zamia plant guides, can you? Check out these other posts from Two Peas In A Condo and see what else we have to offer!

Help us grow! This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. All opinions, however, are our own, and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

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