The ponytail palm is a low-maintenance plant perfect for beginners. Boasting a bulbous base and lush, curly leaves, this delightfully quirky houseplant is a great new plant to add to your collection. Here is how to take care of a ponytail palm plant!
Elephant foot tree
Bottle balm tree
What is the Scientific Name?
The scientific name for this houseplant is beaucarnea recurvata.
What Soil Works Best for Ponytail Palm?
Ponytail palms require fast-draining soil designed for cacti or succulents. You can also even make your own potting mix by combining potting soil, perlite, and sand in a ratio of one to one to one. In addition to soil, you can also use cacti or succulent fertilizer sparingly during the spring and summer months, which is the ponytail palm’s growing season.
How Much Sun Does a Ponytail Palm Need?
The bottle balm tree requires bright, indirect sunlight. Fortunately, this plant is forgiving and can adapt to many situations, like being in an area with direct sunlight. Your plant will do just fine if put in a location of your home that gets low levels of indirect light, as long as it is no more than half the time.
What Temperature Works Best for a Ponytail Palm?
Bottle balm trees do best when kept in a room between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your plant away from windows during the winter months, as the freezing overnight temperatures may cause damage to the roots and bulbous base of the plant.
Do Ponytail Palms Enjoy Humidity?
Dry conditions are best for your elephant foot tree. Ponytail palms are initially from the desert of southeastern Mexico and prefer dry air to humidity.
How Often Should You Water a Ponytail Palm?
It is essential to let the soil of your houseplant dry out completely between waterings, which takes about two to three weeks in the summer. During the winter, it may take a month or more for the soil to dry out enough to warrant a watering.
You should water it until the liquid flows out of the pot’s drainage holes when it is time to water your Bottle balm tree. Make sure to wipe away any excess water collected in the saucer before placing your plant back.
Overwatering your ponytail palm can cause stem or root rot. Signs of these conditions include yellowing leaves and a soft or squishy trunk. Brown tips on the leaves of your succulent may indicate you are underwatering or overfertilizing.
What Size Do Ponytail Palms Grow to Typically?
When grown inside as a houseplant, the leaves of ponytail palms can grow up to three feet long, with the bulbous trunk reaching heights of up to four feet.
Those that live in a dry climate and can keep their plant outside. You can expect your plant’s leaves to grow up to six feet long, with the bulb-like truck growing as tall as ten feet when grown outdoors.
Most Common Bugs
The most common bugs that infest a ponytail palm are spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, thrips. Spiderwebbing on the leaves of your ponytail palm is a sign of the presence of spider mites. You can remove these bugs by rubbing a towel with dish soap and water on the plant.
Mealybugs also leave behind a webbing residue on your plant. To get rid of these insects, you can rub the leaves with a cotton swab with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution.
Most Common Diseases
The most common diseases affecting your ponytail palm are root rot and stem rot.
Overwatering your plant will cause the leaves to wilt and turn yellow. Yellowing leaves means that the plant is no longer absorbing enough nutrients from the soil. If you don’t address this issue, the trunk of your plant will feel mushy, and the roots will rot. Root rot can eventually kill your ponytail palm.
Does it Like Coffee Grounds?
Sprinkling coffee grounds directly on top of your plant’s soil or mixing a small amount into the potting soil is part of proper ponytail palm care. Not only do coffee grounds help increase the acidity of the potting soil, which ponytail palms prefer, but the grounds also provide your plant with additional phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and nitrogen.
How Often Should You Repot this Plant?
Most ponytail palms only require repotting every other year. The new pot should only be an inch or two larger than the previous pot to prevent overwatering it. Leave an inch of room between the trunk and the bottom of the pot for the roots to grow.
A terracotta pot with proper drainage holes is the way to go, as the porous material can help absorb extra moistures.
How Do You Propagate Ponytail Palms?
While rare, some ponytail palms may sprout a baby plant, known as an offset. This offset can be cut off the base of the adult ponytail palm when it is at least four inches tall.
Once removed, the cutting should be rubbed with commercially available rooting hormone and planted in a small pot filled with succulent soil.
What USDA Zones Works Best?
This plant does best in USDA Zones of 9.
Conclusion — How to Take Care of a Ponytail Palm
In summary, caring for a ponytail plant is simple. The plant does best with bright light, dry climate conditions, and temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only that, but the plant doesn’t need watering too often, which is great if you tend to forget now and then.