Beaucarnea recurvata, or Ponytail Palm, is native to Mexico. Beacarneas are closely related to Yuccas and thrive under the same conditions. Plants have dark green, grass-like leaves that are 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide by 6 foot (2 m) long. They have swollen bases for water storage and can store water up to 1 year. Plants in nature will reach about 30 feet (10 m) in height with a base about 12 feet (4 m) across. In containers, they will only reach about 8 foot (2.5 m) in height. They make an excellent houseplant if they are not over-watered.
Blooming Time: Only very old trees will produce this plant's inconspicuous creamy-white flowers.
Culture: Beaucarnea recurvata need full sun to light shade, with a well drained soil mix. We use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts loam to 1 part peat moss to 2 parts sand. To this mix, we add small gravel to ensure good drainage. In a container, they are very slow growing and very drought tolerant. We water ours every 3 weeks during the growing season and fertilize it only once during this period. During the winter months, the plants are watered only enough to keep the foliage from wilting (this usually equates to 1 dose of water during the winter). Over-watering is the single most frequent cause of failure when growing Beaucarneas.
Propagation: Beaucarnea recurvata are propagated by the removal of offsets and by seed. Seed is sown in the spring and will germinate at 68° F (20° C).
Beaucarnea recurvata was featured as Plant of the Week November 29-December 5, 2002.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.