Ponytail palms are an eye-catching indoor plant with a long lifespan that benefits from mild neglect. As long as you don’t overwater them, they are quite simple to grow. Here’s information on how to grow and maintain a ponytail palm at home.
About Ponytail Palms
The ponytail palm is not a true palm despite its name and palm-like appearance “palm. Actually, it has more in common with desert plants of the Agave and Yucca genera (such as Joshua trees).
Ponytail palms typically have a big, domed “tapers off into a thinner stem from the stump. As the plant becomes older, one or more rosettes of lengthy, green, leathery leaves emerge from the top of the stem. The leaves can grow up to three feet long indoors, but they may be double that length outside.
The entire plant has been observed to grow up to 30 feet tall in its natural habitat (eastern Mexico). Ponytail palms, on the other hand, rarely grow taller than 10 feet when grown in gardens as landscape plants. They rarely grow taller than 4 feet when kept indoors.
The most frequent challenge in caring for this plant is needing to change your watering routine to meet its watering requirements!
Choosing Soil and a Pot
- Use a soil that quickly drains, such as cactus and succulent potting soil. You can make your own desert soil mix if you already have potting soil, sand, and perlite on hand: Simply combine 1 part perlite, 1 part sand, and 1 part potting soil.
- Choose a pot with a hole in the bottom so that any extra water may drain. Ponytail palms do not enjoy spending a lot of time in wet soil.
- If at all feasible, use a clay pot; the porous material will absorb part of the water, speeding up the soil’s drying process (a good thing for cacti and succulents).
How to Care for Ponytail Palms
- Place the plant in a bright area as ponytail palms want to get as much light as possible. The optimum light is direct, bright light.
- Dry out the soil somewhat. Water your garden from spring to fall, waiting until the top inch or two of soil is fully dry before watering again. Only sporadically water in the winter.
- Water the soil by soaking it, then let the extra water drain into a dish via the pot’s bottom. After letting the pot rest in the dish for a while, drain any residual water.
- For the summer, move the plant into a room with more light after fertilizing in the spring with a cactus/succulent fertilizer.
- For the majority of the year, keeping the plant at room temperature is good, but in the winter (50-55F / 10-13C), keep it a little cooler to mimic the natural dormancy cycle.
- Avoid placing the plant too close to cold windows at night during the winter months since freezing temperatures can cause serious damage.
Repotting a Ponytail Palm
- Ponytail palms may be kept in a little pot and will stay that size. They don’t usually need to be repotted for many years. A ponytail palm only requires repotting every other year at most.
- The plant can expand its height and girth by being moved to a larger pot. However, if elder plants are not kept on the smaller scale, they may become difficult to manage because of their sheer bulk and weight.
- Pick a pot that is big enough to give the ponytail palm’s trunk about an inch or two of room between it and the rim when choosing a new one.
- Be careful when handling a ponytail palm since the edges of its leaves are minutely serrated.
- Rarely, a ponytail palm will create an offset, a little young plant that grows from the main plant’s base. When they grow to a minimum height of 4 inches, these can be pruned at the base and put in a succulent potting soil. To encourage the offset to root, use a small amount of rooting hormone (available online and in nurseries) once the cut incision has healed before planting.
- The plant’s peculiar form and coloring have earned it the odd moniker “elephant’s foot palm.”
- Stem rot can be caused by overwatering. Withholding watering may allow the plant to address the issue on its own. Yellowing leaves and a soft or squishy caudex (the plant’s base and stem) are indicators of stem rot.
- Spider mites are present on the leaves, but they can be removed by wiping the stems with a cloth dampened with dish detergent and water. Spider-like webbing on the plant is a sign that there are spider mites present.
- The appearance of brown tips on leaves may indicate overfertilization or underwatering; therefore, modify your husbandry techniques as necessary. They might also indicate that the plant is receiving too little water and too much direct sunlight.
Can you cut a ponytail palm?
Ponytail palms can be pruned at any time of the year, but spring through early fall is the best time to do so. To prune the plant’s top-level leaves, use tidy, razor-sharp bonsai shears. The foliage will be forced to grow downward and resemble a ponytail as a result.
Eliminate any wilted or brown damaged leaves. To avoid taking too much of the plant away, make sure you are seated at eye level with the plant and take frequent breaks to monitor your work.
After clipping ponytail palms, if cuts start to seem frayed or brown, you can use pruning paint. The healing of your ponytail bonsai palms will be aided by this.
How big can a palm with a ponytail grow?
Ponytail palm can withstand extended periods of dry weather because it has a large, bulbous trunk that can store water. When planted inside, this slow-growing native of the desert can grow to a height of more than 6 feet.
How should a huge ponytail palm be cared for?
Ponytail palms are simple to grow indoors. A ponytail palm tree technically needs bright light, but because it is such a tolerant plant, it will be fine if you only provide it with bright light sometimes. In fact, it will be content if you maintain it in low light conditions for half the year and give it high light conditions for the other half. This implies that as long as you keep it inside during the winter and place it outside in the summer, it will tolerate any indoor lighting.
Being a succulent, this plant thrives in semi-dry environments. If you’re cultivating a ponytail palm inside, you should allow the soil get quite dry in between waterings.
How much room is required by a ponytail palm?
- By separating them from the parent plant and repotting them, you can grow more ponytail palms.
The ponytail palm (Beaucarnea), which is easy to cultivate indoors and has a long lifespan, is not a palm tree at all. It’s a succulent in its place. Ponytail palms belong to the agave family, but despite having rough-to-the-touch leaves, they lack the stiffness and thorns that one would often associate with agaves. Those leaves have a ponytail-like appearance and shoot from the stem’s apex in a fountain-like fashion. Ponytail palms are frequently referred to as because of the plant’s broad, dingy base with peeling bark “trees with elephant feet. One common name for this plant is the “ponytail palm,” since each one has a base that tapers up to a slender, graceful trunk “container palm Ponytail palms are native to Mexico and may be grown outdoors in well-drained, sunny locations where they can grow up to 20 feet tall by gardeners in zones 10 and 11.
Where to Grow Ponytail Palms
Ponytail palms require intense light, so place them near windows but out of direct sunlight in the house’s sunniest room. They thrive in dry environments and are ideal for the low humidity seen in most indoor environments.
During the summer, you can move your ponytail palm outside to give it a vacation from the house. Place it in a safe spot, perhaps on a porch or patio close to the home, to give it a few days to adapt. If desired, relocate it to an outside location with indirect lighting after that. When it is at its brightest, outdoor light—which is significantly stronger than inside light—can hurt plants that are accustomed to growing indoors.
How to Plant Ponytail Palms
Choose a pot that is no wider than 2 inches around the plant’s base because ponytail palms prefer to be a little crowded in their containers. It ought to have a drainage hole as well. Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix should be poured into the container up to a third of the way; this will provide the plant the ideal drainage it requires. Once the root ball has been gently teased loose, place the plant in the pot with the bottom of the stem and the top of the root ball meeting about an inch below the rim. The plant will rot if any part of the stem is buried. More potting mix should be added to the area around the root ball. Before relocating the plant to the location where you want it to flourish, give it a thorough watering and let it drain.
How to Water Ponytail Palms
Ponytail palms are succulents and can endure for extended periods of time without water. You shouldn’t overwater them, but it doesn’t imply you should never water them. Between waterings, let the top 2 to 3 inches of soil dry up. Then, give the plant a vigorous soak. This means that if you have a ponytail palm indoors, you’ll probably need to water it every three to four weeks. If you’re letting your plants spend the summer outside, keep an eye on the weather forecast and bring them inside if several inches of rain are expected. Don’t let plants stand in water that is still.
How to Feed Ponytail Palms
Ponytail palms should be fed Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food a month after planting since it delivers immediate nourishment and is especially developed to promote succulent plant growth. Use one pump for small pots and two pumps for larger pots (those with a diameter of over 6 inches), directly on the soil, and then water as usual. Make sure you adhere to the label’s instructions.
How to Prune Ponytail Palms
The terse response is, “Don’t!” Ponytail palms are slow-growing and shouldn’t require pruning when cultivated inside. However, you can clip off the growing tip and let the plant re-sprout if you want to encourage it to grow several trunks. Small stems will start to sprout anywhere outside the clipped edge.
How to Grow More Ponytail Palms
At the base of the stem, ponytail palms may generate offsets, or young plants. You can break or chop these off if you’d like to replant them (chances are, they will already have roots). After a few days of drying out, pot the cut sides like you would fresh plants (see above), being careful not to bury the stems.
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How Fast Do Ponytail Palms Grow?
Ponytail palms usually don’t grow more than 12 inches a year, and more often than not, it takes a while for a one-foot plant to grow to a two-foot plant.
How Long Can Ponytail Palms Live?
Your ponytail palm will probably live for a number of years, and it can even outlive you because some plants can live for over a century.
Are the roots of ponytail palms invasive?
During the hottest part of the summer, when the temperature reaches 90 degrees or higher and there isn’t any rain, be sure to water your ponytail palm more frequently. Prior to watering again, always make sure the ground is totally dry.
When watering, saturate the area immediately surrounding the caudex of your tree with a high-quality garden hose. Make sure the soil is moist 12–18 inches down. Ponytail palms do not have deep roots, unlike what many gardeners believe. They share the shallow root systems of many other succulent and cacti-like plants.
Soil and Fertilizer
Put at least 1 of mulch around the base of your ponytail palm using a leaf rake. To prevent moisture gathering and leading to decay, maintain the mulch layer 4-6 away from the tree trunk.
You must provide it with soil that drains adequately. Your plant will get root rot if the soil is left damp for an extended period of time. The ideal soil types for growing outside are sand and loam.
Use one tablespoon of a 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer per square foot of soil to fertilize your ponytail palm once a year in the spring. Fertilizer should be applied in a circle, six inches away from the base of your tree. After thoroughly watering the area, rake it into the top 3 inches of soil.
Spray them with water from your hose if you detect any pests relaxing on the ponytail palm tree’s leaf. This removes them. Aphids and spider mites should especially be on your radar because they both feed on the sap from your leaves. You may have mites if you notice thin, spidery webs because they can quickly consume the leaves. As a spot treatment, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Pruning an Outdoor Ponytail Palm Tree
Trim brown or yellow leaves from your tree by cutting them 1/4 above the stem junction if you wish to shape it. Use a good, clean set of pruning shears to complete the task. Use a 9:1 ratio of water to bleach and dip your pruning shears in it to sanitize them and prevent disease.