A member of the agave family, the ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) grows readily outdoors in the ground or in containers. With time, it can reach a height of 18 feet and spread of 15 feet. The plant's bulbous trunk stores water and its leaves cascade like ponytails or pom-poms. Ponytail palms grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 to 12. Gardeners in zone 9 may have success with the plant so long as temperatures do not fall below 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Things You'll Need
- Spade (optional)
- 5-gallon container (optional)
- Potting soil (optional)
- Slow release fertilizer
Choose the right site for your tree. These palms grow in full sun to part shade and do well in a range of soils so long as the dirt is well draining. They also grow well in containers outside.
Prepare for planting your ponytail palm. Turn over the earth with a spade to loosen the soil and break apart soil clods. Next, dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball of your palm. If planting in a pot, fill a container with drainage holes halfway with balanced potting soil. Begin with a container suitable to your size of palm tree. A 5-gallon container is suitable for small palms.
Remove your palm from its container and massage the root ball with your hands. Unwind tangled roots then place your tree in the prepared hole or in the container. Push soil over the tree's roots, or pour additional potting soil over the roots and trunk, until your tree sits at the same depth as it was planted in the container.
Water the soil to saturate it. Allow the soil to dry out thoroughly between waterings, and water deeply to saturate the earth.
Fertilize your palm each spring using a slow release fertilizer. Apply the appropriate amount for the size of your palm, sprinkling dry fertilizer on the ground and watering to work it in.
Tips & Warnings
- Transplant container-grown ponytail palms into new containers when they appear too large for the original one. If you see roots growing through the drainage holes in the bottom, it's time. Always choose the next size up.
- Start your ponytail palm at any time of year, since frost is not a concern.