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Care for Ponytail Plants

Ponytail plants, more commonly known as ponytail palms or bottle palms, are evergreen, succulent, palm-like plants typically grown as houseplants in the United States. Hardy in zones 10 through 11, only gardeners in the extreme southern areas of the country can cultivate ponytail plants outdoors. Luckily, the plants thrive in containers and adapt quite well to household conditions. Native to Mexico and Guatemala, ponytail plants thrive in hot, dry air and even tolerate mild neglect. Gardeners value the plants for their ease of care, attractive foliage and large, flared trunks that serve as water reservoirs.

Keep ponytail plants in a location that receives four to six hours of partial sunlight each day, such as a north- or east-facing window. Maintain a constant temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results, as ponytail plants need warmth to thrive.

Water ponytail plants once each week during the spring, summer and fall months. Reduce the frequency of watering to once every 10 to 11 days during winter, when the plant is not actively growing and its moisture requirements are much lower.

Fertilize once per month during the spring and summer months using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer to provide adequate nutrients for growth. Follow the manufacturer's directions for proper application. Do not fertilize during the plant's dormancy in winter.

Prune ponytail plants during early spring, just before new active growth begins. Use pruning shears to gently remove damaged, unkempt or diseased foliage, improving the aesthetic appeal and health of the plant.

Re-pot once every three to four years to provide a fresh growing medium and additional room for growth. Increase the size of the container by 2 to 3 inches each time. Water thoroughly after transplanting to compact the soil and minimize shock.


Keep ponytail plants outdoors during warm weather to improve growth. Bring back indoors before temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent cold damage.

Grow ponytail palms outdoors in zones 10 and 11. Indoor and outdoor plants have similar care requirements. Plant outdoors in a partially shaded to full sun area of the garden, water once per week, and feed during spring and summer for the best results.

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