Ponytail Palm TreeBeaucarnea recurvata
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Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Ponytail Palm is a unique plant that looks like no other. It has a tall gray trunk flaring out at the base into a broad ‘foot’ like that of an elephant. This foot develops as the plant becomes older. On the top is a swirl of narrow, leathery leaves that cascade downwards, sometimes reaching the ground as they slowly taper to a long tip. The plant has a striking ‘modern’ and exotic look, that makes it a very special choice as a houseplant. Combined with very low care requirements, this makes it one of the easiest plants there is to grow indoors. It thrives in a hot, sunny spot, even behind a south-facing window. It will grow slowly to become several feet tall in time, or as much as 15 feet tall outdoors, if you live in zones 9 or 10, where this plant can be grown in hot and even arid conditions.
Choose a pot with drainage holes for your Ponytail Palm. Use a potting soil for cactus and succulent plants, and only water when the soil has become completely dry. It is only necessary to move your plant into a bigger pot when the ‘foot’ has filled the pot it is in. Unlike other houseplants that only grow in shady spots, this plant will thrive in the hottest, sunniest window, or in any bright spot in your house. It never needs pruning or trimming, and will survive extended periods of neglect, and still look dramatic and special. It is a great outdoor choice in hot parts of the country where watering the garden is limited or not permitted.
The Ponytail Palm is a unique and exciting houseplant, that combines a dramatic appearance with easy cultivation and high drought-resistance. It is not a palm tree at all, but in fact related to asparagus, but it does have a straight, upright trunk and a crown of long leaves on top, so there is a superficial resemblance to palms, which accounts for its common name.
The Ponytail Palm forms a tall, upright trunk covered with gray bark, that is smooth when young, but developed irregular cracks in older plants. When young the trunk is straight, but as it grows the base widens into a broad, flared ‘foot’, which is why this plant is also often called ‘elephant’s foot’. With the rough gray bark, it really does look a lot like the foot of an elephant. The purpose of this enlarged trunk is to store water, so this plant is extremely drought-resistant. Once established, plants can survive months without water, and when grow in pots they should be allowed to become completely dry before being watered. This makes the plant ideal as a houseplant if you are busy, and forget to water your plants, or spend periods of time away. You can go on holiday for weeks, and then return to find your ponytail palm perfectly healthy and happy.
On top of the stem is a spray of leaves, that are narrow and strap-like. These tumble down the trunk, and can often reach the ground, at least until the plant has grown tall. It is these leaves, which are thick, leathery and gray-green in color, that give the name ‘ponytail’ to the plant. Because they are such a prominent feature, they should not be trimmed. If dead tips develop, this is a sign of either over-watering or under-watering – you will be able to know which by considering your watering habits. If you do need to trim these tips, use a sharp pair of scissors, and cut as little as possible. Remove any lower leaves that eventually yellow by peeling them away from the trunk, one at a time. Dust or wash the foliage regularly, to improve the appearance of your plant, and to reduce the risk of pests developing.
The Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata, comes from dry parts of eastern Mexico, from San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz. There are plants 350 years old growing there, and Mexico has a national collection of the ten different species of this plant. Plants older than 10 years may produce a spray or two of small white flowers, but plants grown indoors very rarely flower. Our plants are grown from seed taken from selected specimens, and they take several years to reach a good size, so avoid cheaper plants, which will be very small and difficult to establish.
The Ponytail Palm is hardy to 23 degrees, so it will grow outdoors in zones 9 and 10, where it makes a striking specimen, especially in hot, dry areas. It should be planted in sun or light partial shade for the best growth. Its drought-tolerance makes it ideal for locations where water is not available. In areas with colder winters it is a popular houseplant, where it will grow in a bright spot indoors, with very little care needed. It will thrive in those sunny windows that other houseplants find too hot and dry, so you can grow plants in more locations around the house, bringing living green everywhere inside.
Make sure the pot you use for your Ponytail Palm has drainage holes, and never leave this plant sitting in a saucer of water. Use a potting soil for cactus plants, and you will rarely need to re-pot the plant, as it is happy in a crowded pot for years. If you do need to re-pot it, do not disturb the roots – simply place it in the new pot surrounded by some fresh potting soil. Use a foliage-houseplant fertilizer at half-strength about once a month, during spring and summer, when you are watering. Older plants can be heavy, as the ‘foot’ develops, so you may need to use a heavier pot – a porous clay pot is preferable to a plastic one anyway, for more rapid water and air movement through the soil.
For a spectacular and dramatic houseplant, or outdoor specimen in warm areas, the Ponytail Palm is a top choice, especially if low-maintenance is high on your wish-list. This is a popular tree with many houseplant lovers, and we know that our top-quality stock will not last long. So order right away, while our stocks last.