Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata) is a very common and popular houseplant due to its drought-tolerant nature and adaptability to almost any environment. They are native to areas in Mexico, but have been cultivated for hundreds of years are were one of the first ‘houseplants’ ever kept!
These ‘palms’ are actually not palms at all, but rather a type of caudiciform, which is a fancy way of saying a plant that stores water in its trunk, similar to a succulent or cactus. This helps the plant adapt to drought and low-water environments, like deserts, or your home when you forget to water it! They grow best in bright, direct sun, but can adapt to almost any light level, with appropriate waterings. Remember, less light = less water, always.
In the wild, ponytail palms can grow up to 15′ high, but usually never get bigger than a couple feet indoors and grow very slowly. They can also take on interesting forms in lower light environments, stretching their fat bases towards the light source. As they age, their trunks develop a mosaic-like pattern in their bark. The oldest known ponytail palm is 350 years old in Mexico.
Care for these plants is minimal, but for the best experience keep your ponytail palm in a bright, dry location and try to pot it in a natural material, like terra cotta, to avoid excess water build-up. Water your plant thoroughly, until water runs from the drainage hole in the bottom, making sure to dump any excess water that may run into the saucer. Water again when the soil is completely dry to the touch. If you notice the ends of your ponytail palm browning excessively, shorten the amount of time between waterings, keeping everything else consistent. The oldest fronds on your plant will always brown and die and must be removed, this is what gives the trunk its distinct look and keeps pests away. Ponytail palms benefit from a regular misting to remove any dust or build-up in the small crevasses between their leaves. You can fertilize your ponytail palm with all-purpose houseplant fertilizer to help it grow faster, follow the fertilizer instructions.