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Ponytail  Palm Tree

Ponytail palm tree in the greenhouse

The Ponytail Palm Tree, scientific name Beaucarnea recurvata, is well-known because of its stunning trunk that is greatly swollen at the base making this palm look like a giant onion. This slow-growing palm is great for small gardens. This palm can tolerate temperatures down to 15F and can be grown in states like Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas.

Ponytail Palm Tree Info

Scientific name: Beaucarnea recurvata

Common names: The Ponytail Palm is also known as Pony Tail Palm, Elephant-Foot Tree, Elephant Foot, Monja, and Palma culona.

Family: Arecaceae

Origin: It is native to Mexico.

Appearance: Young Ponytail Palm has no trunk, but as the palm matures it develops a brownish-gray bark that is greatly swollen at the base, reaching up to 12ft in diameter. When the palm is only a few years old it has a single smooth trunk topped with a crown of dark green fronds, but eventually develops a few branches.

Ribbon-like leaves grow clustered at the tips of branches. Thin leaves are 6ft long and only 1 inch wide. They emerge in a fountain-like fashion, curling downward. The cascading nature of the leaves gives much the appearance of a pony’s tail, hence the name Ponytail Palm.

Flowers/Fruits: Mature Ponytail Palm produces creamy-white flowers in spring or summer. They bloom for several weeks two or three times a year. Flowers grow in clusters on a long inflorescence that extend longer than the leaves. Male and female flowers are born on separate plants. Flowers are followed by reddish small fruit, about 1/2 inch long.

Growth Rate: Slow. The Beaucarnea recurvata is a slow-growing palm that can get up to 10 – 20 ft tall and 5-10 ft wide, but rarely exceeds 10ft.

Outdoor/Indoor Use: Both. The Ponytail Palm is a great indoor plant as long as you have enough light in the room.

Cold Tolerance: Beaucarnea recurvata can tolerate cold down to 15F when mature enough.  It is great for growing in USDA Zones 8b (15 to 20 F) to 11 (above 40 F).

Light Req: Full sun to partial shade. It prefers full sun but can also grow in partial shade.

Water Req: Moderate. Beaucarnea recurvata are closely related to Yuccas and thrive under the same conditions.  It tolerates drought very well. It likes moist, but well-drained soil. Allow the soil to dry between watering because it is easy to overwater this palm.

Maintenance: Easy. To prevent nutritional deficiency, apply good quality palm fertilizer that has continuous release formula twice a year during the growing season.

Propagation: Propagated by separation of offsets.

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