Ponytail Palm, also known as Bottle Palm Tree or Elephant Foot Tree, is another houseplant whose common name is based on what the plant looks like, but is actually a misnomer! Ponytail Palm – a member of the Asparagaceae family, is neither a palm or a tree – it’s actually a succulent! Known as Beaucarnea recurvata (though formerly known as Nolina recurvata) in its official capacity, Ponytail Palm does look like a tiny palm tree, but it’s actually storing its water in that “trunk” like other succulents store water in their thick “leaves.” This little “trunk” can grow to be up to four feet tall, and long, thin leaves will sprout out of the top of the plant in the shape of a ponytail. These little leaves are sensitive to injury, so you may see brown tips from time to time. Just trim these off, but only cut off the discolored spots.
Because Ponytail Palm stores its water in this little “trunk,” you won’t need to water it often. Allow the soil to get very dry, and then wait even longer to water! Try watering once a month(pro tip – have a set “Water Day” for your plants depending on how often they need water so that you never again wonder when you last watered!). Just give the plant a good soak so that the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. If your pot does not have drainage, use extra caution when water to make sure the plant does not sit in soggy soil, as this can cause root rot.
Ponytail Palm will not flower indoors, but it is both pet safe and air cleaning! When it comes to light, Ponytail Palm has some interesting options. In general, it likes bright, indirect light like most houseplants. But if you’re able to put it in direct sunlight outside in the warmer half of the year, you can actually place Ponytail Palm in any lighting conditions indoors for the rest of the year! Think of it as the Alaska of the houseplant world where lighting is concerned.
When potting your Ponytail Palm, use a well-draining substrate that will dry out well after watering – remember, the plant will store its water in its “trunk” rather than take it from the soil between waterings. Succulent soil is a great option. You’ll want a pot that has good drainage to avoid root rot, but if your heart is set on a pot that doesn’t have any drainage, take care when watering and use a Moisture Meter to determine the level of moisture at the bottom of the pot. Keep Ponytail Palm in a place where temperatures range between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, keep it away from drafts and windows and vents, and even a beginner should have an easy time with this little succulent!