Ponytail Palm

Botanical Name: Beaucarnea recurvata

Often mistaken for a palm, Ponytail Palm is actually a semi-succulent more closely related to the Yucca.

This plant is easy to grow and drought-tolerant. Its swollen base stores water, so occasional lack of water will do no harm.

If you're forgetful about watering, this may be the ideal house plant for you. In fact, the most common mistake with this plant is overwatering it, especially in winter. When in doubt, keep it on the dry side.


At the top of its trunk, long, narrow green leaves grow in a cluster, curving downward like a pony's tail. Keep them dust-free by spraying leaves with room-temperature water, then wiping them with a soft cloth. Cleaning the leaves will also help to prevent spider mites that prefer the same dry living conditions as the ponytail palm tree.

ponytail palm, ponytail palms

Clusters of small, white flowers may appear on plants when they are several years old. However, plants that are grown indoors rarely flower.

Easy to Grow

Because of its tolerance for living indoors, ponytail palm makes an easy-to-please house plant and a striking accent for any room.

A native of the Mexican desert, this house plant tolerates the dry air of heated homes extremely well.

If you find that the leaf tips are turning brown, it is caused by overwatering and underwatering. Snip off brown leaf tips with sharp scissors or pruners, but take care not to cut too much off.

Good ponytail palm care will ensure that your house plant will live a long time. Slow-growing, it rarely needs repotted. In fact, it grows best when it's pot-bound. As it grows tall, it's a good idea to pot it in a heavy container to prevent toppling.

Ponytail Palm Care Tips

ponytail palm, beaucarnea recurvata

Origin: Mexico

Height: Slow-growing, it can take 20 years to reach 6 ft (2 m) indoors. It is easy to grow as a bonsai, reaching only 1-2 ft (30-60 cm) tall -- it doesn't need shaped or pruned at all.

Light: Bright light to full sun.

Water: Allow soil to dry out a bit between waterings. In winter, water only enough to prevent the soil from drying out completely.

Humidity: Average to low room humidity.

Temperature: Average room temperatures 65-75°F/18-24°C

Soil: A fast-draining medium such as cactus potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly in spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.

Propagation: Can be sown from seeds. In spring, you can remove the offsets that grow from the base of the plant and pot them in their own containers.


Careful with that water!

When watering, avoid getting the trunk wet because it is prone to rot. Water the potting mix instead.

Remember to always use room-temperature water when watering your plants.

Buying Tip:

Beaucarnea recurvata is a slow-grower, so buy one the size you want. Otherwise, you'll wait for years for it to grow into a large tree.