Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm) Indoor Care, Propagation, Problems with Solutions

Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm) also called Elephant Foot is an easy care plant that does not require a lot of attention which makes it ideal for a beginner or the forgetful plant parent.

Ponytail Palm has a large, swollen bulb that stores water which resembles an elephant's foot and hence the common name 'Elephant Foot'.

A thin trunk arises from the swollen bulb and is topped by a plume of long strap-like leaves which give this plant its common name 'Ponytail Palm'.

Though called a palm, Ponytail Palm is not a true palm. It is a member of the Asparagaceae family along with Yucca, Asparagus and Spider Plants.

Elephant Foot is a hardy, slow-growing succulent which requires very bright light with some direct sunlight and moderately moist free-draining soil. It does not like soggy soil.

Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata

Botanical name: Beaucarnea recurvata
Family: Asparagaceae
Common names: Ponytail Palm, Elephant Foot


Beaucarnea recurvata is native to the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz and San Luis Potosi in eastern Mexico.


Under the right conditions Ponytail Palm can grow to a height of 6 ft or more.


Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is non-toxic to both humans and pets as indicated by ASPCA. It is safe to grow indoors.

Where to Buy

Ponytail Palms in various sizes are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) online from Etsy.

Beaucarnea recurvata Indoor Care

Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm) prefers bright light with some direct sunlight, average warmth and moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.

Ponytail Palm has no need for high humidity. Pruning is needed to keep the plant neat as well as minimize pest and disease infestations.

Repotting is necessary when the plant becomes extremely pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to provide them.

Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata


Water Ponytail Palm liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist.

Cut down on watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is reduced at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting of the bulb. Learn more on how to water houseplants the right way.

Light Requirements

Beaucarnea recurvata grows best in bright light with some direct sunlight but it needs to be protected from hot direct sunshine as it can cause scorching of the leaves.

Elephant Foot can also tolerate direct sunshine. However, it needs to be acclimatized before moving it under direct sunlight to avoid sunscorch marks on the leaves.

Ponytail Palm will also grow under grow light where the natural lighting is not sufficient. Check out these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Temperature and Humidity

The best temperature for growing Ponytail Palm indoors is an average warmth of 18-280C. Room temperatures that are comfortable for you are ideal for this plant.

Average room humidity is ideal for Ponytail Palm. It has no need for high humidity. Mist the leaves occasionally and clean them by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust as well as discourage pests and disease infestations.

Potting Medium

The best potting mix for Ponytail Palm should be rich in organic matter, loose and free-draining to avoid getting soggy soil. The soil should be loose enough to allow water to drain out fast enough as the plant is prone to root-rot disease.

Cactus and Succulents soil is ideal for this plant as it drains easily. Buy quality Cactus and Succulents Soil online from Amazon for your Elephant Foot.


Feed Beaucarnea recurvata with a balanced, liquid fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing period.

Do not feed Ponytail Palm during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn.


Repot Beaucarnea recurvata during the growing season only when the plant has become extremely pot-bound as it grows best when slightly root-bound.

The best pot for Ponytail Palm should allow 1 in. of space between the plant's trunk and the rim of the pot.

Ensure that the trunk remains at the same soil level as it was in previous pot and that the bulbous part is not covered under soil to avoid rotting.

Confirm that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting. Check out these succulents pots available on Amazon.

Refresh the soil for the large plants by replacing the top 2-4 in. of soil with fresh soil. Take care not to injure the bulb and the roots.


Prune Ponytail Palm by removing dead and dry leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy and also reduce pest and disease infestations. Avoid wounding the trunk as it can result in fungal infections. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

Propagation Guide

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is not easy to propagate but can be propagated from offsets (pups) at the beginning of the growing season.

How to propagate Ponytail Palm from offshoots (pups)

Allow the Ponytail Palm pups to grow to a length of about 4 in. or more to ensure the best chance of survival.

Remove the soil around the base to expose where the pup joins the mother.

With a sterilized, sharp knife, cut the pup away to separate it from the mother.

Pot the pup in moist, potting mixture which is sand-based and free-draining to prevent rotting.

Cover the set up with a clear plastic bag in order to create humid conditions that are necessary for rooting.

Keep the soil surface moist through out until the Beaucarnea recurvata pup is well established after which routine care can begin.

Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata

Beaucarnea recurvata Problems

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) has few growing problems which include brown leaf tips, brown leaves, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Brown leaf tips

There are two possible causes of brown leaf tips in Beaucarnea recurvata. Snip off the brown tips with a sharp sterilized scissors to keep the plant neat.

One possible cause of brown leaf tips in Elephant Foot is underwatering or overwatering.

Water the Ponytail Palm liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist but never soggy.

Significantly, reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

The second possible cause of brown leaf tips in Ponytail Palm is overfeeding which leads to fertilizer burn.

Beaucarnea recurvata is a slow-grower and therefore does not require heavy feeding.

Feed the Elephant Foot monthly during the growing season and withhold feeding during the cold season.

Lower leaves turning brown

The lower leaves in Ponytail Palm turn brown as the plant ages. Pull out the dry leaves to maintain the plant neat as new leaves grow from the top of the trunk.


Ponytail Palm is highly resistant to pests but weak plants can be attacked by Scale Insects, Mealy Bugs and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests. Read on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.

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