Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pony tail palm, a living statute that adds interest to any residence

A large Beaucarnea trunk surrounded by tropical foliage
at Nashville's Opryland Atrium, 2010
When the garden slows down in the winter, many gardeners turn their attention to their houseplants.  If you're anything like I am, caring for a green, living houseplant is like a form of gardening life support -- it keeps me focused through the winter.

One of my favorite interior plants is Beaucarnea recurvata, more commonly known as pony tail palm or elephant-foot tree.  The pony tail palm can develop lovely curly foliage that cascades over the edge of whatever piece of furniture it's sitting on.  The trunk has a nice gray bark, and the base of the plant will swell creating a bottle-neck appearance.

Pony tail palms are extremely slow growing, but given time a tree can reach 30 feet in height.  Beaucarnea recurvata prefers a high light situation when
I strike a pose with a large pony tail palm in
 Nashville's Opryland Atrium, 2010.
grown indoors, and will grow best by a sunny window.  Native to the deserts of the North American South and South West, pony tail palm does not require a lot of water.  The base of the plant actually serves as a water reservoir.  To prevent over-watering, I tend to wait until the base starts to get a puckered, wrinkly appearance instead of watering when the soil is dry.

Small specimens can be purchased from a local garden center, box store, florist, or grocery store.  Between the low maintenance requirements and statuesque form, pony tail palm is a great choice for any residence.

If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions, leave a comment or shoot me an email.

How has pony tail palm grown for you?  What's your favorite interior plant?  How do you beat the winter blues?

My small pony tail palm serves as a living statute in my residence.

As seen from this specimen grown in Nashville's Opryland Atrium, pony tail palms can be multi-stemmed.