Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > March 2015 > EASY HOUSEPLANTS: PONY TAIL

EASY HOUSEPLANTS: PONY TAIL

On my first buying trip to south Florida, over 30 years ago, I was astonished to see a 25-foot tall Pony Tail Palm growing in a wooden planter that measured about 8’x6’x1.5’—the 1.5-foot measurement being the depth of the container.  The caudex, or swollen trunk, of the plant was almost as large in diameter as the planter allowed.  It was amazing how little root system this huge plant required.  And, it was sitting out in the sun in an unattended part of the property we were visiting.  Ignored, but happy in its location, the pony tail just waited patiently for each rain fall, and, as it was a summer trip, the rain was accompanied by horrific lightening!

These very hardy plants are not the “prettiest” of indoor plants, but they are some of the coolest in both appearance and ease of care.  Not a palm at all, the pony tail (Nolina recurvata or Beaucarnia recurvata) is a member of the lily family.  This small succulent tree has a woody trunk and swollen caudiciform base.  A rosette of long narrow pendulous leaves tops one or more branches, arching upward before drooping down.  The minute teeth along the edges of the leaves can result in a “paper cut” when handling.  The pony tail is native to Mexico and Guatemala.

This plant is not so particular as to light, although it prefers some direct sun.  Mine has been growing very very slowly in a moderate light location for years.  The pony tail is a great plant for those of you who don’t’ like to water (or, like me, forget to water) as it can store moisture quite a long time in the thick base of the trunk.  As with all succulents, care must be taken to avoid over-watering.  Sometimes suckers (offsets) will form at the base of the caudex which can be separated to pot up as new plants.  Keeping the pony tail a little pot-bound helps to form the fat interesting trunk as opposed to letting it just get tall and skinny.   
Posted: 3/25/2015 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
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