Monday, December 10, 2007
A few years ago at an arts and crafts sale, a local garden book author was selling potted plants that he had grown from seed or offsets. When I admired his large collection of Ponytail Palms (Beaucarnea recurvata), he invited me to drive by his house and check out the huge specimen he had planted in his front yard. It had a southern exposure, and was at least 12 feet tall. Until that day, I had not thought about placing a Ponytail Palm in my garden. I had grown them as houseplants for years, but always thought they could not take full sun here in the Phoenix area.
When I found a good-sized specimen, I purchased and planted it right after all danger of frost had passed. It has a southeast exposure, and so far, it is doing fine. In the low desert, these plants usually do better with some shade, and although this location is sunny for most of the day, it does get some late afternoon shade, which may be just enough to keep it healthy.
The Beaucarnea genus is native to Central Mexico, with just a few species in the genus, and is part of the Agave family. It has a swollen base, which makes it interesting enough to be very popular as a houseplant. In the spring, any offsets the plant produces can be separated and repotted as separate plants. That local author I spoke of has a good side business of repotting offsets from his huge specimen into artful arrangements for arts and crafts shows. He always sells out.