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Beaucarnea (Ponytail palm) - Expert Tips

How to care for Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea) - Expert tips for Thriving Plants

The Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is a well-known houseplant with different names, such as Elephant's Foot or Bottle Palm. It's famous for its unique look and comes from the dry parts of Mexico. The plant has long, slender leaves that grow from a big, round trunk. Among other famous indoor plants like Snake Plants and Dracaenas, it belongs to the Asparagaceae family.

Fun fact! The plant owes this nickname to its large stem, which looks like an elephant's foot or a bottle, 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. That’s helpful!

Beaucarnea is best suited for someone who is looking for a low-maintenance plant that is relatively easy to care for. If you're new to houseplants or don't have much time to care for them, Ponytail Palm is a good option.

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Ponytail Palm care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully

  1. Give your Ponytail palm plenty of light. It loves bright, indirect light. Make sure it gets plenty of filtered sunlight by placing it near a window.
  2. Do not overwater your Ponytail Palm. It is better to underwater than overwater as they are susceptible to root rot. Wait until the soil has dried out before watering it again.
  3. Water the soil thoroughly and let the excess water drain away. Ensure the saucer beneath the pot is empty of excess water to prevent the roots from sitting in it.
  4. Beaucarnea can get pretty large, so it needs plenty of room to grow. If you put it too close to a wall or other objects, the leaves might rub against them and develop brown tips.
  5. If the tips of your Ponytail palm's leaves start to turn brown or yellow, it may be a sign of dry air, under or overwatering. You just need to adjust your care routine a little.
  6. Trim off any brown or yellow leaves or leaf tips with clean, sharp scissors. This will help to keep your plant looking healthy and beautiful. Only cut off the browned or yellowed parts of the leaf.
  7. Monitor your plant regularly for pests such as spider mites or mealybugs. In case of infestation, treat it right away with insecticide or insecticidal soap.
  8. Ponytail Palms grow slowly, so they don't need to be repotted very often. Young plants should be repotted every 2-3 years, whereas older, more mature plants may only need repotting every 4-5 years.
  9. Plant your Ponytail Palm in a cactus and succulent soil mix. It will reduce the risk of overwatering and root rot.
  10. Your Ponytail Palm will appreciate a cooler and drier environment during winter. This is natural for the plant in its native habitat and can help its healthy growth.

Beaucarnea Care Tips

Light and placement

Choose a bright spot with filtered light for your Ponytail Palm to keep it thriving. While they may tolerate some direct sunlight, keeping them away from south-facing sunny windows is better. Place the Beaucarnea 2 to 3 metres away from the sunny south window. Too intensive sun can hurt its leaves, especially when it's not used to it.

Although they tolerate medium shade for a short period, Ponytail Palms do not enjoy it. They will actually start to decline very slowly over time if placed in a location with insufficient light. So a north-facing window isn't the best option for it.

If a Ponytail Palm is placed in a location that is too dark, it can negatively affect its growth and overall health. The leaves may turn yellow or brown, making the plant weak and skinny.

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Watering

Since Beaucarnea plants naturally grow in dry areas, they don't need a lot of watering. It's best to let the whole soil dry out slightly between waterings. In the winter, you should be especially careful when watering and do it less often. It's because the soil takes longer to dry out, and the plant's roots can be sensitive to excess moisture.

Expert tip! Don’t worry if you forgot to water your Ponytail Palm. They store water in their thick stem and will survive for some time without water, but no longer than one month.

Ponytail Palms are very sensitive to overwatering, so keeping their soil on the drier side is best. Always check the soil moisture before watering and avoid giving too much water. Overwatering can cause root rot, which can be fatal to the plant. Watch out for signs like yellowing or wilting leaves, a bad smell from the soil, or mushy or blackened roots.

Fertilisation

Beaucarnea does not need much extra nutrition as they are not fast growers and heavy feeders. It’s totally ok if you forget to fertilise it for a while. For best results, use PLNTS Nutrition plant food once a month during active growth (from spring to fall). Just be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can harm the plant's roots. After purchase, Beaucarnea can do without for months.

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Temperature & Humidity

Keep the temperature between 18-24°C and relative humidity around 40-60% to keep your Ponytail Palm happy. If needed, raise your humidity with these tips. During summer, your Ponytail Palm can enjoy some fresh air outside on a balcony or terrace. Just be sure to find a spot sheltered from strong winds and provide shade to protect it from direct sunlight.

In winter, a slightly cooler temperature would be ideal, around 13-18°C. But it’s totally fine to keep it on average room temperature. During the winter months, when the days are shorter, and the sun is less intense, the plant's growth naturally slows down. Exposing the plant to slightly cooler temperatures can help conserve energy and prevent it from stretching out or becoming leggy.

Soil & Repotting

Ponytail Palms do not need to be repotted often and can actually thrive when slightly root-bound. Young plants may need to be repotted every 2 to 3 years, while mature plants may only need to be repotted every 5 to 6 years. When repotting, use cactus or succulent soil mix, which is well draining and slightly sandy.

Propagating Beaucarnea

Propagating a Beaucarnea is easy! A well-developed Ponytail Palm will produce side shoots in its crown, which are perfect as cuttings.

Just follow these easy steps to propagate it:

  1. You can cut these side shoots directly from the stem.
  2. Fill a pot with well-draining cactus and succulent soil.
  3. Carefully plant the cutting in it and water it.
  4. 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!
  5. Keep the cutting a little moist and air the cover every day.

Once your baby Ponytail Plant is established, you can give it the same care you would give its mother plant.

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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 Ponytail Palm 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?

Buy your new Beaucarnea at PLNTS.com

At PLNTS.com you can buy your new Beaucarnea online. Whether you like your PLNTS big from the start or prefer to grow them from tiny BabyPLNTS into full-grown PLNTS - buy Ponytail Palm online at PLNTS.com.

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Ciao, sono Emma, la tua guida PLNTS.com!

Ciao, sono Emma, la tua guida PLNTS.com!