How to Propagate a Ponytail Palm—and Why They Make Great Houseplants, Too
When your ponytail palm starts growing “pups,” congratulations! You’re about to be a new Ponytail Palm parent!
Ponytail palm propagation couldn’t be easier—great news, since they make excellent houseplants. After all, ponytail palms require very little watering as it is stored in their bulbous trunk, plus they’re drought tolerant and love full sun.
Some fun facts before we get started: The ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) may look like a palm tree but it’s actually part of the Asparagaceae family, which includes asparagus, agave, and yucca.
Outdoors, these plants can grow longer than Ariana Grande’s ponytail—up to 30 feet, and it’s said they can live for hundreds of years. Another charming thing to note: Ponytail palms are also known as the elephant’s foot, thanks not only to their shape but also their cracked, pachyderm-like skin.
Propagate your ponytail palm when pups are about 4 inches in length. The ponytail below, which lives in our garden editor’s yard, is about 15 feet high. You can see one large pup that’s ready to be propagated and a few smaller ones that are starting to grow.
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To propagate your palm you’ll need:
- A clean, sharp paring knife or sharp hori hori
- Gloves (You’re working with a sharp knife, and ponytail palms have serrated leaves.)
- Cactus or other well draining soil
- A new pot for your ponytail palm, unglazed as ponytails like drier soil (We picked a wide-mouthed terra cotta bowl.)
- Decorative rocks to help your new pup stay in place
- Extra credit: Rooting solution (not pictured)
Begin by gently cutting the pup away from the base. I choose to go all the way around rather than slicing through.
Next, take your cutting and remove leaves from the bottom to make a “stem.” Let your cutting dry out a day or two so the wound has a chance to heal (This will prevent rotting.)
Once dried a bit, dip the pup in rooting hormone, if you’re using it, according to instructions.
Plant your cutting about ⅓ of its length down, using decorative rocks to help it stay in place.
How to Care for Your Ponytail Palm
Ponytail palms do not like to sit in water, so only water it when the first inch or so of soil is dry. They prefer bright light, but if you put it outdoors in the summer sun, it can overwinter in lower light conditions.
If you don’t have a ponytail palm, get yours from your local nursery or Bloomscape can deliver a potted one right to your door. You may as well—ponytail palms are easy and, thanks to their spunky attitude, are rather cheerful plants if we do say ourselves!