Pony Tail palms

grullablue(5)January 16, 2012

So I bought a "cluster" of pony tail "palms" (I know they are not palms) yesterday. I don't know if it would work, but I thought it might be suitable for having out on my deck in the summertime, and in the house in the cold weather. I've always loved the looks of these plants/trees.

What I bought was actually four plants clustered together. I suppose their thinking was that they would become a larger, multistemmed plant.

Can I separate them, do you think? I think I'd rather have a single ponytail or two, and then maybe keep two of them together. I don't know how to separate....or if it would kill them if I did so, but thought I would ask. This cluster of four nice looking plants was only $5 where I got it.


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I bought a group of over a dozen in a 4 inch pot last year. Yes, they can be easily separated, but I would wait till Spring to do so. Then, I would take them out of the pot, remove as much soil as I can, and gently pry them apart. Of course I would repot them in a clay pot with fast draining potting mix, if they were mine, and put them in a sunny window. Good luck with them.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 4:13PM
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And after you repot them a la the fashion Christopher describes, wait a few days before watering your baby Beaucarnea recurvata plants - this will give time for any root / caudex wounds to heal over.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 6:02PM
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Thanks for the replies! LOVE this plant, but would love it even better if they were single specimens.... I will take the advice, and wait until spring!


    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 10:39PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

I bought mine a few years ago. It was three plants in a 4 inch pot. I separated and potted them individually.

This pic is from early summer. I repotted them since.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2012 at 8:46AM
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deburn(6 - Boston MA)

Whip, what size are those two pots, and how many years ago did you get the plants? Those trunks look huge!

I have 4 small ones in a 4" pot and can't wait till spring to repot them

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 9:38PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

The terra cotta pots are 4-5 inches. These guys were tiny when I bought them. I've had the plants 4-5 years. If I get a chance, I'll take some pictures of them in their new pots. Also, I was at Lowes yesterday, and they had one gallon size for about $12.00. Nice looking plants.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 6:58AM
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I didn't know how good a Lowe's (or Home Dodo) deal could be until I see y'all talk about the $5 Adeniums and $12 gallon-Beaucarneas - wow, I have one and would have bought two more.

I'd encourage you to get a B. stricta, too, if you ever get the chance. - it's an awesome plant, too.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 9:44AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

I thought about buying the gallon Beaucarneas. The ones pictured above are some of my oldest plants. Oddly, I feel like I'm cheating if I buy a bigger one.

Sorry for the poor pictures.... I was in a hurry. These are the same plants I repotted over the summer. There's a quarter on each plant for a size reference. When I bought them, there were four tiny plants in a four inch pot. They have grown incredibly well since I've had them.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 8:54AM
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deburn(6 - Boston MA)

Rob, thanks for posting those - they look great. I have 4 in one pot, that I bought from Lowe's on clearance about 9 months ago, but didn't repot or anything, so they've stayed more or less the same size.

I also wasn't giving them enough light. I'm definitely going to repot them in the summer.

I got lucky and got 2 fairly large ones for 2.50 each from HD which are in much better shape. I love their leaves; they're almost springy

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 10:08PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

Post pics once you repot them. I keep mine outside in the summer. Slowly acclimate them to the sun. The more light the better they do.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 11:41AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

I found a pic of when I first got my Ponytail Palm. This was right after dividing and re-potting. This was maybe 5 years ago, and I believe that's the same pot I posted in the first picture.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 12:23PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

"I thought about buying the gallon Beaucarneas. .... Oddly, I feel like I'm cheating if I buy a bigger one."

I get it .... thought I was the only one. ;-)

I very often purchase small plants and grow them through several repots before passing them along to someone and moving on to something different. With bonsai, it's just the opposite. I buy or collect something very large ...... in relationship to the very small it eventually becomes after some manipulation and a considerable amount of reduction.

Best luck!


    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 12:52PM
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I just wanted to say that I have had a cluster such as yours for 5 years more or less. It was pretty small, the bulbs where maybe the circumference of a quarter. Up until last year I kept them in the arrangement, bad idea. Some bulbs grew bigger than others and stunted some growth. One ended up dying altogether, that was when I decided to separate them last year. The three that survived remind me of the three lil bears. The biggest has a bulb the size of a softball, the smallest is the size of a golfball, and the middle is right inbetween. It is a very hardy lil plant. I also at times have left it in low light conditions for months without a problem, but when I put them outside in the summer they flourish! So obviously more light is better but they will survive with very little light. In case you didn't know their bulb is made to suck up water and it stores it there. It prefers to live in dry soil, I believe it is indigenous to desert like conditions. It can go 2 weeks without water but I water it when the top of the soil is near bone dry. This usually takes a week and a half in non summer months.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 5:03PM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

If you have one that's softball sized in 5 years, your doing something right. I've had mine about that long, and the biggest caudex is just a bit bigger than a golf ball.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 9:32AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I have a ponytail palm that's about 25 years old. The caudex was about the size of a softball when I bought it. It's over six feet tall now, and the caudex is about 12 inches in diameter, almost filling its three gallon pot. This thing seems to be virtually indestructible. There is very little "soil" in the pot (gritty mix, actually). I only water it and give it a light feed in both summer and winter. It has grown slowly but steadily over the years.

Five years ago when I adopted two wild and crazy kittens I gave them the PT as a sacrifice to try to keep them away from many other plants. They thundered through the house each morning, climbing the PT and leaping off it onto one another. The trunk was torn up by their antics. (You can probably see the scars in this photo.) I assumed the poor thing would eventually die, but it soldiers on. It seems to love summers in full sun outdoors, but it survives winters at a north window.

I took this photo today of one of the cats who used to torture the PT, Hobbes. He's in his favorite spot "hidden" by the PT's leaves at a window where he can watch the bird feeders. He's much more mellow these days, but he still likes to play jungle.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 3:48PM
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I wanted to share my pictures of the "ponytail palm" that I bought as a cluster of 4 small bulbs at Walmart about 5 years ago. Dumb me, I never separated the bulbs, and just kept transplanting the whole thing to larger and larger pots over the years. The other morning I was at the computer and heard a "clapping sound" several times. For a moment I thought it was my husband greeting the morning in some weird, new fashion, but as I turned, no one was there-he was still in bed. My cat however, was peering intently at the ponytail palm. I went over to investigate and low and behold, the clapping sound I heard had actually been the sound of the large plastic pot finally cracking apart under the stress of growing plant! I guess its time to finally separate and re-pot!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 12:36PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Wow! That's awful, and really cool, all rolled into one! Hey, it might be an interesting discussion to start - what plants can break a pot? Sounds like that poor thing needs some new soil (and kitty needs a time out.) Aren't you glad you were there? It would have been so much less fun if you just found the pot that way after being away from home. How funny the pic before yours has a cat!

I just bought the same pot a couple weeks ago, the babies!! Only that pot had 4, I separated one and planted the other 3 in - yes, you can laugh, so get ready - a mini garden. The planter is wood, so I don't know which will come first - the bottom rotting out, or the tri-tree cluster squashing the other plants and pushing them out? Of course it couldn't be permanent, being wood, but that may be an objective mistake.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 5:07PM
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Hi every one,
I think I have one of these plants it said it was on the pot and tag but it look like the leaves but not the round ball thingy. it just looks like a straight base. weird huh and I water when dry and clip off the dried up leaves but I just dont know what I have...at the top of the stem it has a 4 separate leaf growing system sorry I just dont know how to word this plant. maybe it has to much soil on it because it looked like it may have toppled over and the store put some soil back in the pot. right now I trimmed the dead ones and moved it to get more light. I am in the deep south and we have had a weird summer it has been rainy and humid and not hot. I have had to keep all my plants inside this summer due to the weather everything would be soaked and dead.

Well I hope it gets better were not even getting much sun light and my poor plants are under my grow lights and have to move them around a lot. O could this plant NOT be a pony tail palm?

Thanks all for listing I try to explain so you understand sorry so long.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 2:30PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hithere, JS, welcome to Gardenweb! It could be a Dracaena or Cordyline, maybe something else. If you look at images of those two and can't decide, or it's definitely something else, feel free to start a new discussion, preferably with a pic. Somebody will know what it is. (The form at the bottom of the house plant forum is for starting a new discussion. Click the browse button to include a pic from your computer.)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Hi everyone
I'm not new to the gardenweb site but am new to the ponytail palm gang! All the threads are helpful but I need advise. My ponytail palm has 4 large balls that I am going to repot now that I have read some of the threads. I have a real problem with mealy bugs on my pony tails. Had one and lost it to the mealy bugs. Please Help!!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 2:46PM
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