Ponytail Palms look like a plant straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. These thick trunks produce a matching “ponytail” of grassy green foliage at the top. The leaves twist and curl as they cascade, resembling human hair. Ponytail Palms may look silly but they’re no joke in terms of how easily they are to take care of. Ponytail Palms like to stay mostly dry, and occasionally need water. They prefer bright indirect or some bright direct light, and a well draining soil. These entertaining plants do well in small containers staying root bound.
Growing Zone: 9-11
Mature Height: 40″ – 48″
Mature Width: 30″ – 36″
Classification: Green Foliage
Sunlight: Bright indirect or some direct light
Habit: Tree form, clear trunk
Flower Color: White, rarely flowers
Foliage: Green, grassy
Soil Condition: Well draining, cactus or succulent mix (part sand)
Water Require: Likes to dry out between watering
Uses: Excellent indoors as focal point or background
Does Not Ship To: AK, AZ, CA, HI, OR, WA
As part of the Agave family, Ponytail Palms do well indoors when given bright indirect or some direct light. They prefer to stay fairly dry, and can sometimes be found in the cactus or succulent sections of garden centers because they despise staying wet. These Seussical trees stay fairly compact when kept as houseplants because the container holds back their growth and development. Ponytail Palms like to stay rootbound, and do well as an accent plant or focal point in a room.
Light Requirement of Ponytail Palms:
Indoors, Ponytail Palm does well with bright, indirect light or some direct light. An eastern or western facing window would be ideal. Southern exposure would work as well, as long as some shade is provided while the plant transitions (otherwise leaves will burn or turn brown from too much light).
Watering Ponytail Palms:
Ponytail Palm likes to dry out almost completely between watering. It does not like to stay or sit in water. Plants that are watered too often will not survive. If unsure, do not water.
Fertilizing Ponytail Palms:
Any all purpose, foliage fertilizer will work for Ponytail Palm. Indoor houseplant fertilizers fall into two groups: water soluble, liquid quick release, and granular, slow release fertilizers. Jack’s Classic Indoor plant food works well as a powder, quick release fertilizer that is mixed with water to quickly provide nutrients to a plant that has been in a container for an extended time. On the other hand, Biotone Starter or Osmocote Indoor/Outdoor is an option as a granular, slow release fertilizer that can be applied while potting and planting. Any type of fertilizer offers nutrients that help plants with the transition to a new environment. All of these fertilizers may be used when planting Ponytail Palms.
Best Growing Soil for Ponytail Palms:
Ponytail Palm needs a very well draining soil, and prefer to have dry conditions. Regular potting mix with sand mixed in works well for plants potted in containers, otherwise a cactus potting mix would work. The cactus potting mix already has sand and other ingredients to encourage drainage.
History and introduction of Ponytail Palms:
Native to eastern Mexico, Ponytail Palms are not closely related to other palms. True palms are found in the Arecaceae family, whereas Ponytail Palms are a part of the Asparagaceae family, and is more closely related to Agave than true palms. As a result of being in a family with cactus and succulents, the Ponytail Palms prefer to stay very dry with infrequent watering. Ponytails need a lot of bright light, several hours a day of bright, indirect or direct light is necessary. In Mexico, there are Ponytail Palms that are registered at a whopping 350 years old. These plants tend to grow very slowly, and are incredibly drought tolerant. Ponytail Palms store water in their swollen trunks.
Beaucarnea recurvata is the Latin name for Ponytail Palm. Genus name, Beaucarnea, is of uncertain origin, while recurvata means curved backwards.