What Is a Ponytail Palm?
The ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is a type of succulent that is ideal for growing indoors. Despite its name, the ponytail palm isn’t related to the palm tree family but rather is part of the agave family (Asparagaceae), making it a relative of lilies and the yucca plant. Native to Mexico, ponytail palms have long, green leaves and a thick, bulbous trunk. Another common name for the ponytail palm is elephant foot tree because the base of the trunk resembles the foot of an elephant.
How to Grow and Care for a Ponytail Palm
This popular houseplant is a slow grower, and it can last for years when cared for properly.
- Use well-draining soil. Similar to other succulents and desert plants, the ponytail palm is drought-tolerant and thrives in dry conditions. Use a potting mix specifically formulated for cacti and succulents.
- Use a porous pot. Whether you opt for terracotta or some other clay-based pot, porous materials help absorb excess water from the soil. Put your ponytail palm in a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom of the pot to ensure that water drains properly.
- Place a saucer under your pot. When it comes time to water your plant, a saucer underneath the pot will help catch excess water.
- Water sparingly but thoroughly. Overwatering can cause root rot, so allow the soil to dry thoroughly between waterings. When the soil is dry enough to be watered, soak the plant all the way through and dump any excess water that collects in the saucer.
- Keep your ponytail palm in a sunny spot. Ponytail palms require lots of bright light, ideally a mix of bright indirect light and full sun. You’ll know the plant is getting too much sun if the leaves develop brown tips.
- Apply fertilizer in the spring. Fertilize indoor plants in the spring with a formula designed specifically for succulents and cacti.
- Keep the plant warm. Ponytail palms do best in room temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the plant away from windows if outdoor temperatures fall below 50 degrees.
- Watch out for spider mites. Spider mites may show up on the undersides of ponytail palm leaves. You can easily wipe them away with a cloth dipped in a solution of water and dish soap.
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