Beaucarnea recurvata
Common Name: ponytail palm 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Asparagaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Mexico
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 10 where it is best grown in sandy soils with sharp drainage in full sun. It is a very popular houseplant in more temperate climates. Houseplants should be placed in a sunny window. Plants like sunny, warm, dry conditions and overwinter well with furnace heat. Houseplants are best grown in relatively small pots with excellent drainage. Plants may be moved outdoors after last spring frost date with gradual adjustment to full sun locations and cooler temperatures. Fading leaves may be peeled off. Brown leaf tips may be clipped off. Outdoors in summer, plants should be given regular water but allowed to dry out between applications. Reduce watering for plants brought indoors for winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Beaucarnea recurvata, commonly called ponytail palm, is an evergreen caudiciform shrub or tree that is native to semi-desert areas of southeastern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala where it typically grows to as much as 30' tall. Where not winter hardy, it is commonly grown as a houseplant that over time will eventually rise to as much as 6-8' tall. Notwithstanding its common name, ponytail palm is not a true palm. It is noted for having a large, swollen, often flask-shaped, water-retaining base (caudex) from which rises a trunk-like stem bearing narrow, flat, palm-like, spreading to recurved leaves (to 6' long but only 1" wide) that droop fountain-like in clusters from the branch ends. Trunks are usually single with young plants, but several smaller trunks as well as some sparse branching near the top may develop with age. Old plants may produce tiny creamy white flowers in clusters. Flowers rarely appear on houseplants.

Genus name is of uncertain origin.

Specific epithet means curved backwards.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Houseplants are susceptible to spider mites, mealybug and scale. Potential disease problems include leaf spots, stem rots and bacterial leaf streak.

Garden Uses

Excellent specimen in dry frost-free areas. Elsewhere ponytail palm makes an excellent houseplant that can be moved outdoors each year after the last spring frost date.