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How to Grow Beaucarnea — Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palm tree

Beaucarnea–commonly called Ponytail palm–is an evergreen palm that is native to semi-desert southern regions. Its swollen base and tuft of strap-shaped leather leaves give it specimen quality. It can be grown indoors in bright light.

Young plants are single-stemmed often with a flared base. Once a tree flowers it will begin to branch. Trees can grow from 3 to 25 feet tall. Leaves are evergreen, linear, and strap-shaped; they are leathery with finely serrated margins.

Beaucarnea is a genus of flowering plants native to Mexico and Central America. 

Get to Know Beaucarnea

  • Plant type: Palm native to deserts of Mexico
  • Growing Zones and range: 10-11
  • Optimal growing temperature: day 68° to 75°F (20°-24°C), night 50° to 60°F (10°-26°C).
  • Height and width: Mature plants can reach 3 feet (90cm) tall.
  • Foliage: Grassy clump of narrow leaves growing from a swollen, enlarged base. As plant ages, the base expands and the plant develops a greenish-brown trunk topped with a tuft of thin, leathery, strap-like, green leaves. Ponytail palm produces only one flush of growth a year in spring
  • Common name: Ponytail palm, elephant foot palm
  • Botanical name: Beaucarnea recurvata
  • Family: Agavaceae
  • Origin: Semi-desert and scru southern United States to Guatemala

Where to Plant Beaucarnea

  • Beaucarnea needs high to medium light.
  • Grow Beaucarnea in a well-drained cactus mix.

How to Water and Feed Beaucarnea

  • Water Beaucarnea thoroughly, then allow the soil to dry before you water again.
  • Fertilize Beaucarnea annually in early spring.
Beaucarnea palm

Beaucarnea Care

  • Too little sun causes limp, pale leaves; move the plant to a brighter location.
  • Wait several years between repotting.

Growing Beaucarnea as a Houseplant

  • Give Beuacarnea direct light, average room temperature, and low humidity.
  • Allow the soil to dry out substantially between thorough waterings; the swollen stem holds water to protect the plant against drought.
  • Fertilize once a year in spring or summer with an all-purpose feritlizer.

Beaucarnea Pests and Diseases

  • Spider mites and scale are problems indoors. Knock pests from the plant with a stream of water or spray with insecticidal soap.
  • Beaucarnea is sensitive to fungal diseases and stem rot.

Beaucarnea Propagation

  • Separate and repot offsets in spring.
  • Sow seed in warm soil in spring.

Beaucarnea Varieties to Grow

  • Beaucarnea recurvata, ponytail palm. Evergreen tree grows 12 to 25 feet (4-8m) tall and 6 to 12 feet (2-4m) wide with flaring to flask-shaped base; trunk branches sparingly with age; rosetted, mid- to deep green leaves to 6 feet (1.8m) long; produces mauve-tinted creamy white flowers.
  • B.r. var. intermedia is the houseplant variety with leavfes less than 36 inches (91cm) long.

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