In its native ecosystem, ponytail palm grows as a small tree.

Some succulent plants and their friends do not mind being grown as houseplants. Ponytail palm, Beaucarnea recurvata, is one of those rare friends of succulents that actually prefers to be inside, at least during winter when they can be damaged by cool weather and moisture. Plants that are houseplants through winter and get moved out to the garden through summer should be protected from harsh direct exposure since their foliage is adapted to the home environment. Otherwise, ponytail palm likes the sunniest rooms in the house.

The weird distended caudex at the base of the stem is the most distinctive feature of the ponytail palm, which as actually neither a palm, nor outfitted with ponytails. However, almost like a palm, pruning a solitary top down will likely be fatal. (Pruning the terminal bud off the top of a palm will necessarily be fatal to the affected trunk.) Unlike (solitary) palms, ponytail palm can eventually develop multiple trunks, which can be pruned off if absolutely necessary.

In their natural environment, ponytail palms can get to be shade trees with sparse limbs terminating with tufts of narrow strap shaped leaves. Yet, as slowly growing houseplants confined to containers, they rarely get more than six feet tall after many years. They really need good drainage, and prefer to be watered only about twice to four times monthly.


13 thoughts on “Ponytail Palm

      1. Absolutely. I have what you have. The same thing you are showing in your photos. I have a large single one, and a cluster of them that were sold as “bonsai ” but are now not in a bonsai pot–there’s 5 or 6 of those in sore need of division, really. And I just got a third one with a cluster of 3 from Trader Joe’s of all places. I guess that I had better try to get them some brighter light although I shudder to think what might happen if I do. I will have more of them than I know what to do with.

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    1. The fanciest of hybrids are naturally sterile, although some of them produce a few seed. I have obtained seed from ‘Wyoming’, and have read of others obtaining seed from ‘Australia’. However, even if fancy hybrids produce a few seed, the seed may not be genetically stable. Of course, that could make growing such seed a bit more interesting, since the progeny could be surprisingly different from their parents. The simpler and less extensively bred sorts of Canna, particularly those with narrower floral parts, not only produce seed, but some produce an abundance of seed. Both my Canna musifolia and Canna edulis (or what resembles Canna edulis) do so splendidly.

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    1. If I remember correctly, I have seen only two bloom, both near Los Angeles. One was in Santa Monica, and the other was nearby, perhaps in Venice. They did not look happy. Their foliage was hanging limply below the foliage, which was already fading by the time I saw it. Is the bloom pretty?

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