Common Name: Ponytail Palm, Elephant’s Foot, Sago Palm
Botanical Name: Beaucarnea recurvata, Cycas revoluta
Be honest -- you love houseplants, but you can be a bit neglectful. If you want a plant that can thrive despite your busy schedule, then the Ponytail Palm (or Elephant’s Foot) ,or the Sago Palm are the perfect choices for a potted plant. The pop of green, palm-like leaves (surprise -- this is not an actual palm tree!) grow atop a flask-shaped base that retains water on the Ponytail Palm. The Sago Palm has sharp point foliage so be sure to handle with care! Simply let them bask in indirect sunlight, and they will remain happy while you are out somewhere remembering that you should have watered them. There is no need to repot these indoor plants right away. Allow the roots to start forcing their way out of the container and then in the spring, replant them into a pot that is one or two sizes larger in diameter than the root ball.
Ponytail palms and Sago Palms thrive in bright indirect light for at least five hours a day. Without this sunlight, their health will decline, as indicated by the leaves turning yellow and dropping. It’s a good habit to rotate your plant every week or so to help promote a well-proportioned, full figure.
The large basse of the Ponytail and Sago Palms will store lots of water, so always err on the side of dryness. You will only need to water these plants approximately once a month, but the ideal frequency of watering will be determined by pot size (the smaller the pot, the greater the frequency), soil type, and amount of light and warmth they receive. If you are using a potting soil that retains water, then allow the soil to completely dry out between watering. If you are using a potting soil with significant drainage, then be sure to keep an eye on the soil -- Both Ponytail and Sago Palms can suffer if left without water for extensive periods of time. If these houseplants are in bright indirect light and the temperatures are high, then they will need more water than if placed is a cooler, darker spot.
The ideal temperature for these plants is 65-85℉, but they can survive in temperatures as low as 50-55℉.
Ponytail and Sago Palms will do well in average household humidity, but if you find the tips of the leaves are rapidly turning brown, you should consider increasing the humidity through the use of a humidifier.
Fertilizer for the Ponytail and Sago Palm is not necessary, but it will benefit from you top dressing it with worm castings early in the growing season. Be careful to not add too much; just work the compost into the top inch of the soil.
- Instead of manually cutting off old leaves, let them become dry and simply pull them out by hand.
- Plant three plants in one pot for a fountain-like effect.
- Repot only when you see the roots coming out of the top or bottom of the pot. The Ponytail Palm likes to be root bound.