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April 2010
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Beaucarnea Recurvata – Pony Tail Plant, how to grow and what are the growing conditions.

The Pony Tail plant is also known as the Pony Tail palm, although it is not really a palm. It is actually a member of the lily family and grows well in USDA zones 9a to 11 but can be grown indoors in other climates. The plant is native to the deserts of Mexico and is not prone to pests or disease, although it may attract spider mites or mealybugs.

Ponytail Palm is also known by the name “Beaucarnea recurvata”. With the increase in the age, the trunk of ponytail palm normally develops some branches. It makes a surprisingly interesting desktop plant, considering that in nature, it’s a full-size tree that can tower over homes. Indoors, these novel little palms are often grown in shallow pots, with a tuft of strappy green leaves emerging from a bulbous stem that seems to erupt from the soil.

The normal height of a ponytail palm is 30 feet tall with the base exceeding 12 feet. However, ponytail palm plants which are normally planted in the house don’t grow beyond 6 feet or eight feet. The leaves of the plant are flat and thin with a length of 6 feet. The ponytail is basically a “plant it and forget it” kind of plant, providing it has enough light to thrive and somewhat steady water throughout the growing season. Because this an arid plant by nature, periods of dryness are not deadly for an established plant. Normally, the flowers are creamy white in color and although individually invisible are observed in showy upright clusters, which draw out above the leaves.

Growing Conditions for Pony Tail plant

Light: Bright light. Ponytail palms can be acclimated to full sun.
Water: During the growing season, water every 7 to 14 days. The bulbous stems store water, so be careful not to over water. During the winter season, cut back water to monthly.
Temperature: They prefer warm, arid temperatures, above 60ºF. However, they will survive down to 50º, providing they are not exposed to prolonged cold.
Soil: Rich, organic, fast-draining potting soil.
Fertilizer: Feed weekly with liquid fertilizer during the growing season, or use a slow-release pellet fertilizer in the spring. Reduce feeding during the winter.

Division of Pony Tail Plant

Once the plant is established, divide in March to April. It is relatively easy to propagate by division. Do this in spring, not autumn, as some newly divided plants may rot before they’ve developed a good root system.

Plant Uses

Architectural, Cottage/Informal Garden, Drought Resistant, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Low Maintenance or Mediterranean.

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