[Arid_gardener] Care for Ponytail Palm [Beaucarnea recurvata]

Linda A. Guy laguy2@primenet.com
Tue, 02 Nov 1999 14:08:03 -0700

You've wisely chosen a southern/western indoors' exposure for a plant that likes plenty of good lighting. I've not had personal experience with this as
an outdoor plant, but the Sunset Western Garden Book (page 180) suggests that it is viable outside in our zone. I'd watch carefully for the amount of
summer sun, however.

In my personal experience, the single most important factor is your watering practice. This plant will like to be deeply watered, but infrequently;
drying out between waterings will be important. I drowned my last ponytail! Make sure run-off drains into a saucer and that it is not reabsorbed back
into the root ball, carrying back any salts that the first watering leached from the container's soil.

Tips on the end of foliage can mean lack of water, but overwatering or poor drainage are also likely candidates. Use a soil probe to check for the
moisture of the root ball. The plant could also have been overfertilized (meaning heavy salt content); of course lack of fertilization could also be a
factor. I normally stop fertilizing houseplants until spring growth recommences.

My personal practice and the recommendation of our Indoor Plant Selection and Care publication #8828 is to trim brown leaf tips and margins following
the shape of the leaf. I am not aware of specific advice to the contrary for Ponytails.

Hope this helps.

Linda Guy
Master Gardener

jbh@azstarnet.com wrote:

> How often should I water a ponytail palm? It is in a room that gets southern and western light.
> It is about 4-5 ft tall and has several branches coming out of the main trunk. i got it at an estate sale and it has a lot of browning on the tips.
> What can be done for that? I read you are not supposed to cut off the brown parts.
> Thanks for your advice