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.


  1. Hi Amanda, thanks for signing up as a member and commenting on my blog, what an interesting blog you have! I have just had a brief look tonight, but will come back again :-)

    1. Helene: Thank you for reading my blog! I enjoy reading your posts. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement. Although this blog goes back a few years, I've only started taking it seriously recently. At the top of the page are links to my other garden blogs as well.

  2. Hi Amanda,
    Awesome information. Looking at your plant, I would have thought that it was some kind of grass; but, of course it is not, and it's a palm. I need to look for the plant.

    Also, thank you for following my blog. How do I follow yours? Can't find any button.

    KL --

    1. KL: Another fun fact about pony tail palms is that they aren't true palms either! According to "The Healthy Indoor Plant: A Guide to Successful Indoor Gardening," These plants are actually in the Agave family. Wikipedia, however, lists the plant in the Asparagus family. Taxonomy, huh?

      Good question about following. I'm going to move this information to the top of the right hand pane. There will be a list of followers and a blue button that says "join this site." Let me know if that doesn't work and I'll contact Blogger with a question.