Nolina recurvata syn. Beaucarnea recurvata is often called the Pony Tail Palm (although its not really a palm or indeed a tree at all, this is a succulent.
With about 20 species of Beaucarnea available the main features are the swollen trunk, thick trunk and the crown of foliage that hangs down. (like a ponytail).
Pictured right is a mature multi trunked specimen in full flower. The Pony Tail Palm is versatile and will grow well in cooler climates, easily coping with the winters as far south as Melbourne.
Beaucarnea recurvata or ‘Pony Tail Palm’ is the best known of the species available for sale and is widely used as a landscaping plant and indoor plant in Australia. Beaucarnea guatemalensis is the ‘Red pony tail Palm’ they are are also used in bonsai.
These wonderful trees will reach a height of 7 – 9 m over time, generally in cultivation a height of 3m is more normal. However when grown in a container size is easily constrained. This plant is closely related to Nolina nelsonii.
Beaucarnea require a warm frost free climate, good drainage is essential for beaucarnea.
A major problem is excessive water, the tree itself stores water in the lower swollen part of the trunk. These plants are excellent as indoor plants, slow growing and they seem to cope well with low light.
- A free draining soil is essential to prevent root rot and watering in winter should be once every 4 weeks depending on soil and climate.
- Pony Tail palms require full sun or very bright indirect light if grown indoors.
- If growing indoors rotate the plant every week to help even growth habit, otherwise it tends to ‘reach’ for the light.
- Fertilise every 4 weeks with a liquid fertiliser if growing in containers. In the ground very little fertiliser should be needed.
- Pruning can take place to tidy up the plant, or to rejuvenate it by cutting the top out completely.
- This is a long lived plant, it can take 20 – 30 years to flowers and can easily live 2- 3 times as long as this.
- Growth rate is regarded as slow, this makes it a great indoor plant.
- Moving the plant Outdoors. You need to increase direct sun slowly, over 6 – 8 weeks to prevent foliage damage.
Repotting Pony Tail Palms
As we said these are slow growers. So wait until the plant fills the pot. Every 2 years is a good idea as this will replenish the potting soil. Often you can keep the plant in the same size pot. Repot in late spring.
Try not to over pot as a restricted root run seems to help increase the size of the swollen base as well as increasing the density of the foliage.
Smaller pots and reduced fertiliser will keep the plant smaller, and if you are growing this plant indoors it is probably best kept small/
How to grow Multiple Trunks on your Ponytail Palm
- Cut the growing tip of the plant when it is established, but we do like to do this while they are still reasonably small. Seal the wound with a tree pruning sealer and keep that wound dry. In around 6 – 6 weeks you should see new shoots from the swollen base.
- Be patient, eventually it will happen.
- Brown Tips on leaves – This can be from under watering. Also from overwatering, if its overwatering the brown tips will be accompanied by a general yellowing of the foliage.
- Lack of Growth – Firstly they are slow growers. Secondly extremely poor soil. It containers use a liquid fertiliser every 4 weeks, OR a slow release type fertiliser, try a 6 or 9 month type.
Beaucarnea recurvata or ‘Pony Tail Palm’ are available for sale form the following nurseries
In Brisbane and Gold Coast Try
300 Oxley Drive Coombabah QLD 4216
Located on the north end of the Gold Coast at Runaway Bay. The 6 acre site is home to Queensland's biggest & best garden centre. Selling in volume direct to the public. Focus on top quality both in our plant & pot ranges.
20 Swan Street, Lara, Vic. 3212 Contact: Ph/Fax: (03) 5282 8704
Mail Order and Retail NurseryCacti and succulents. Wide range of trees, palms, ferns, shrubs & perennials.