Flowers & Blooms

Caring for Ponytail Palm

The “Ponytail Palm tree” is an interesting plant many people like to grow in their homes. This plant is not a palm at all: it’s a member of the Lilaceae (lily family). It’s known under several names so it’s not surprising that there is a slight confusion about this beautiful plant.
For example, it’s known as the “elephant’s foot” due to its bulbous base. Similarly, it’s also called “a bottle palm” because of this base and thin trunk.

The Ponytail Palm tree is native to Mexican deserts. This natural habitat allows them to survive in dry climate. For example, it means it’s well-adjusted to interior winter heat.

This plant looks great in any garden and many home owners choose to grow it in their yard. Some people even choose to grow it indoors.

As a container plant, it can be kept in containers about 14 inches or larger. If you wish to make it appear more bush-like you should plant several 6 to 10 inch pots. A single Ponytail Palm tree can grow to about 6 to 18 feet in height, depending on where it’s planted.

Ponytail plant is unique in its appearance because of the large base and a head full of smooth-edged, flat leaves. With these plants, there are no two specimen alike – each one is unique in its appearance.

Ponytail Palm

Development

This plant is popular for both its foliage and interesting trunk. When it’s young, the plant has almost no trunk. At this stage, the trunk resembles an enlarged onion bulb with leaves emerging on the top.

As the plant matures the trunk becomes thicker until it resembles a bottle or an elephant’s foot. After a few more years the plant will probably develop several branches towards the top.

Remember: if you grow Ponytail Palms outdoors, they can reach a height to 16-18 feet, maybe even more.

When grown outdoors, a Ponytail Palm will produce flower stalks. They consist of clusters of small beige blossoms.

Care Tips

What you need to keep in mind is that this plant stores water in its base. This is why you should never let water sit in the bottom of the saucer or pot. There is always a risk of root rot. To minimize it, it’s best to use a sandy mix soil. Don’t use the peaty mixes commonly used for tropical plants.

It’s important to allow the soil to dry out between waterings. If you’re in doubt, skip the watering and wait till the next week.

On the other hand, it’s possible to underwater your Ponytail plant. A clear sign of underwatering are dry, brown leaves or a shriveled stem and desiccated roots.

When it comes to light, it’s important to give your Ponytail plant bright indirect sun or even full sun. If you keep it indoors, you can place it near north window and it will survive. However, in order to thrive a Ponytail plant needs full sun.

Ponytail plants don’t have many pests. It can attract mealybugs, spider mites and scale on occasion, but these situations are not common.

Photo credit: unprose via photopin cc