Beaucarnea (Ponytail palm) - Care tips

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Beaucarnea (Ponytail palm)

Beaucarnea, is a species of plant in the Asparagaceae family. Despite its nickname, it is not closely related to the true palms (Arecaceae). The plant owes this nickname to its large stem, which looks like an elephant's foot, and to the top of the plant, which looks like a ponytail. Apart from its unique appearance, the thick stem is also very handy for the plant. The Beaucarnea stores water in it and has its own water reservoir. This means that you do not have to water the plant very often and it can go a long time without, which is very practical.

Beaucarnea has become popular as an ornamental plant in Europe, but also worldwide. There are even 350-year-old Beaucarneas recorded in Mexico. In its regions of origin, Central and South America, Beaucarnea can sometimes grow up to eight metres high. Because it is a slow grower Beaucarnea will not grow as fast at home or at the office, but it can still become a large houseplant. Beaucarnea does need space, because if the leaves rub against a wall, for example, it will develop brown tips.

Beaucarnea Care Tips

Light and placement for Beaucarnea

Beaucarnea likes to be placed in a light place and needs at least 3 to 4 hours of (indirect) sunlight per day. With a south-facing window it is better to place the Beaucarnea two to three metres from the window. However, do not place it on the north side; if the Beaucarnea is too dark, new leaves will have difficulty growing.


Water Beaucarnea moderately, a little more in the growing period from March to August than in the winter. It is good to let the soil dry out a little before watering again. Check this by feeling the first 2 to 3 centimetres of the potting soil. The Beaucarnea buffers water in the thickening of its stem. That is why it can even go a few weeks without water during the winter period! Easy right?


Beaucarnea does not need much extra nutrition. After purchase Beaucarnea can do without for months. Only add nutrition in spring and summer. Never give too much or too often as this can cause the roots to burn. It is not necessary to give nutrition in the winter because the plant is in a dormant state.


Propagating Beaucarnea

Propagating a Beaucarnea is easy! A well-developed elephant foot (Beaucarnea) will produce side shoots in its crown, which are perfect as cuttings. You can cut these side shoots directly from the stem. Fill a pot with growing soil or a mixture of peat and sand. Plant the cutting in it and water carefully. Tip: Place a transparent sleeve/plastic bag over the cutting to create a humid-warm micro-climate. Make sure this material does not touch the leaves. Keep the cutting a little moist and air the cover every day.

Most common pest on Beaucarnea

The Beaucarnea is usually not bothered by pests, but there are a few you should watch out for. Check for scale insects. These small, brown, disc-shaped insects can lurk on the underside of the leaves. Scale insects are sap-sucking pests that secrete honeydew, often causing sooty fungus to develop. Spider mites are attracted to dry conditions, especially in winter, and can destroy plants. They can be recognised by the fine webs between the leaves. Treat an infestation immediately and isolate the plant to prevent the critters from spreading to your other houseplants. Check our PLNTS doctor page to see which bugs are bothering your plant and how best to combat them.

Is the Beaucarnea toxic for pets or children?

The Beaucarnea is completely safe around pets and children. The leaves, the stem and the trunk are all non-toxic. We like this plant even more now, and do you?

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Hi, I'm Emma, your guide!

Hi, I’m Emma, your guide!