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Care of a Ponytail Plant

plant image by Ergün Özsoy from

The ponytail plant, also known as the elephant's foot, originated in Mexico. The ponytail plant leaves grow from a large bulb that protrudes out of the soil and resembles an elephant foot. The leaves can grow to be 20 feet in height when the plant grows in the wild, but is much smaller when grown in the house in a container. The plant is easy to grow when given the proper care.

Place the ponytail plant in a sunny window so it receives full sunlight. The ideal windows would face west or south. Place outside on a deck or patio during the summer in direct sunlight.

Water the plant when the soil is semi-dry. Soak the soil when watering, but remove the drainage tray and empty out any standing water a few hours after watering. The plant needs low humidity, so there is no reason to leave the water in the drainage tray.

Keep the plant in temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees F. The plant withstand hotter temperatures during the summer, but make sure to keep the soil moist, or the tips of the leaves will start to turn brown from lack of water.

Use a fertilizer on the plant. Add 10-10-10 (nitrogen, phosphate, potassium) once in July and once again in April. Use a water soluble fertilizer and not a slow releasing granular.

Inspect the leaves for mealy bugs periodically. If you see a white mass on the underside of the leaves, scrape it off with your finger. Use a mild soapy solution and a small rag to gently wash the leaves and eliminate the mealy bug. If you don’t want to use a rag to wash the leaves, place the soapy solution in a misting bottle and mist the leaves with the solution.

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