How to Grow and Care for Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) Indoors


Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata

Photo Credit: Succulent Native

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

Description

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

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

Size

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

Origin

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

Where to Buy

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

Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata

Photo Credit: Bloomscape

Beaucarnea recurvata Care Indoors

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) care indoors is easy as the plant is quite hardy. Elephant Foot thrives in bright light with some direct sunlight and moderately moist, well-drained soil. Being a slow grower, it has no need for frequent feeding or repotting. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to provide them.

Light Requirements

Ponytail Palm grows best in bright light with some direct sunlight. It can also grow under a grow light where natural lighting is inadequate.

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. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Watering

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

Cut down on watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is reduced at this time.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting of the bulb. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature

The best temperature for growing Ponytail Palm indoors is an average warmth with a minimum of 150C. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

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. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Ponytail Palm with a balanced, liquid fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing period.

Do not feed Elephant Foot during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Ponytail Palm during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. The best soil for Ponytail Palm is a fast draining soil that is rich in organic matter.

The best pot for Elephant Foot 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.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Refresh the soil for the large plants by removing the top 2-4 in. of soil and replacing with fresh soil.

Soil

The best soil 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 for Elephant Foot from Etsy.

Pruning

Prune Ponytail Palm by removing dead and dry leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Avoid wounding the trunk as it can result in fungal infections.

Propagation

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 Elephant Foot pup is well established after which routine care can begin.

Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata

Photo Credit: Beyond The Vine

Beaucarnea recurvata Problems Indoors

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) has few problems indoors which are brought about by cultural faults in watering and feeding. They include brown leaf tips, brown leaves, pests and diseases. 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 Ponytail Palm. 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 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Significantly, reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but never soggy.

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

Ponytail Palm 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.

Pests

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.

Is Ponytail Palm toxic?

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

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