Ponytail Palms (Beaucarnea recurvata) make terrific house guests. They’re a firm favorite to grow as a Bonsai tree too.
The leaves grow in clumps, eventually draping gracefully over the browny-gray trunk that shapes itself into an elephant’s foot.
Hence the nickname, Elephant’s Foot plant.
But, will it always stay that way, or will it produce gorgeous blooms eventually to wow us further?
Well, this article will certainly answer the question that’s piquing your curiosity since time immemorial.
Do ponytail palms flower?
Ponytail palms are flowering succulents but rarely do they flower indoors. They can surprise you though because they are dioecious, meaning they can produce both male and female flowers. Male flowers are cream-colored; the female’s pink. But, it usually takes about three decades of growing them outdoors to make them produce flowers. Indoors, Ponytail Palms are container grown so the growth of the caudex is restricted. Outdoors, the caudex can grow as wide as 12 feet giving it an abundance of energy reserves to help it flower.
Why Ponytail Palms Take Years to Bloom
Most literature about the flowering of Ponytail Palms suggests it only happens on really old plants.
It takes a few decades of maturity to make Ponytail Palms bloom, but some have been known to flower earlier.
They only need a big enough caudex, which is the part of the plant that looks like the bulb where the trunk shoots up from.
The caudex on a Beaucarnea recurvata can eventually grow to 12 feet wide.
The caudex is where bulbous succulents store their energy. Ponytail Palms need a lot of energy to flower. That’s why you’re rarely going to see a Ponytail Palm bloom indoors.
It’s usually on mature Ponytails grown outdoors that have been cared for over years, sometimes even decades.
The larger the caudex becomes, the more likely it is to flower. When it does, panicles grow on top of the leaves, much like the inflorescence usually seen on flowering palm plants.
It is another similarity this succulent has to the Arecaceae family of Palms.
Propagating Ponytail Palms from Seed
Being dioecious, only the female (pink) flowers produce seeds. The Cream or ivory flowers are males that don’t set seed.
Propagating Beaucarnea recurvata from seed is the surest way for them to root.
The best time to harvest the seeds is in the fall when they’re a tan-brown color.
The seeds are inside capsules. Hence, break the capsule open, collect the seeds from inside them, and place them either onto clean paper or into a plastic container.
The seeds are tough and should be lightly scraped with a nail file, then soaked overnight in water.
Pot them up in 3-inch containers that have drainage holes, and fill them up to near the top with a good seedling mix.
Lightly cover the seed in potting mix and leave it somewhere with high heat and lots of light.
Within weeks, a new caudex emerges.
Propagated Ponytail Palms start life looking like tiny onion plants, then, as the base enlarges, it takes more of an elephant’s foot appearance.
Frequently Asked Questions about Ponytail Palm Flowering
Are Ponytail Palms monocarpic?
Many succulents are monocarpic, meaning they flower, set seed, then die off. Ponytail Palms are not monocarpic. What you will notice is even slower growth of foliage production. That’s only because the plant is devoting so much of its energy to flowering.
How long do the blooms last on Ponytail Palms?
Blooms on Ponytail Palms last several weeks at a time but they can flower a few times each season, from early spring to fall. For propagation, harvest the seeds from spent flowers at the end of the season rather than in the spring or summer seasons.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.