Ceratozamias are a group of cycads that mainly come from Mexico, and a few of the other central American countries. They all seem to prefer at least partial shade, and a little extra moisture compared to some of the other cycads. They all make a good choice for the landscape, and do very well in Florida. Many of them are very cold hardy. There is a little confusion with some of the names of these plants. The "robusta types" need some more work done to get them separated. Many of these are named with a locality name. See information below for more details on certain species.



  Ceratozamia hildae, from Mexico, is probably the best cycad in this genus for landscape purposes. It prefers to be in partial shade, but can grow in deep shade. If grown in full sun, it will grow well but will get a little washed out looking. During a freeze with a low of 14F, these plants were not damaged. They react very well to fertilizer applications, and I have had these mature as early as 41/2 years from seed. This is my favorite cycad in my collection.

   Ceratozamia kuesteriana, also from Mexico is another good choice for our landscapes here in Florida. These plants have a beautiful brown emergent leaf. They look their best in partial shade, but can tolerate deep shade. In full sun they can also look a little off color. The stems have shown to be cold hardy to 17F. The leaves are very frost tolerant. The stems are subterranean, so these plants can survive a freeze below this temperature if the stem is covered. They attain a six foot spread, and have a medium growth rate. This is one of only a few cycads that have no spines, making them very landscape friendly.
   Ceratozamia latifolia is one of the best landscape plants in this genus. It prefers to be in the shade to look it's best. It has proven to be very cold and frost hardy. A freeze in Florida of 14F did not even burn the leaves. It grows fairly fast and reacts well to fertilizer applications.This plant will attain a 7 foot spread. There are variations of this species, but this plant has beautiful red emergent leaves.

 Ceratozamia mexicana

This plant is known as the "true" mexicana. The true mexicana has thin, green emergent leaves. Mexicana has proven to be one of the most cold hardy of the Ceratozamias. It is very rare in cultivation. This plant can attain a spread of 9 feet over time. If you have what's called Mexicana robusta, this is totally different. Mexicana can grow in the sun or in shade, and reacts well to fertilizer applications.

   For now, this is Ceratozamia norstogii. Soon there will be a new name for this plant. The plant known as the "plumose"form of norstogii, will soon have the norstogii name all to itself. This plant has red emergent leaves, and is moderately cold hardy. If unprotected in any way, the foliage can be burned by frost. I have seen trunk damage at 18F. The leaflets are thin, much like C. kuesteriana. The leafstalks on this species have many spines on them, where kuesteriana has none. This plant looks best under some shade, so this will help protect it from frost as well. C. norstogii will attain a 6 foot spread, but is rather slow to grow.
   Ceratozamia miqueliana is a beautiful plant with very wide leaflets. The new leaves are bluish in color with a redish leafstalk. Miqueliana prefers to be in the shade, and should not be concidered frost tolerant. Stems are mainly under ground, so the plant can survive freezes in the low twenties. I have found that these plants can grow quite fast if given enough fertilizer and root room in the container. They can easily attain a spread of 15 feet, or more. It is not common in cultivation, but attainable from time to time.
   Ceratozamia "plumosa" is known today as the plumose form of C. norstogii. It will be re-named soon. This plant has reddish-purple emergent leaves and is very simular with norstogii as far as leaflet width and spines. The interesting difference with this one is that the leaves twist spirally. Notice the leaf in the bottom of the picture. The leaflets are on different planes. This plant also prefers shade, and is also not frost hardy. Stems have been damaged at 18F. This plant is fairly slow and does not react very much to fertilizer applications. This plant can attain a 5 foot spread over time.
   This is one of the robusta types called "Palma Sola", because of it's habitat locality in Veracruz Mexico. This has a green emergent leaf, and is very cold hardy. I had slight leaf damage at 20F. "Palma Sola" can grow in shade or sun, but looks a little better in some shade. It grows moderately fast, and can attain a 12 foot spread. This also can grow well with fertilizer applications and extra root room.

 Ceratozamia "Santiago Tuxtla"

This is an upright growing form of robusta with reddish-brown emergent leaves. Notice the new leaves still have the red color on the ends. This individual is a double headed plant that was grown from a seed with two embryos. Both sides were female. This plant is not frost hardy, and stem damage can occur at temperatures around 20F. "Santiago Tuxtla" grows better in partial shade. This plant grows moderately, but can easily attain a 15 foot spread in time.

   This is the little seen Ceratozamia sabatoi. According to the description, the plant looks like a C. kuesteriana with green emergent leaves. I have found that it has slightly wider leaflets, and the leaflets are spaced wider apart than C. kuesteriana. It has proven to be cold hardy, but I have not tested it for frost tolerance becuase of its rarety. It also prefers to grow in some shade. This plant grows a little slow and will have a 6 foot spread over time.