The Q&A Archives: Young Bottle Palm

Question: I am starting three bottle palms to grow in individual pots. What is the technique to have them form the 'bulb' at the base and to feed them for continued growth?
They seem very fragile sitting on top of the soil. Each time I water (using Miracle-Grow to help) they fall over easily. The roots appear extremely shallow and offer little support.

Answer: Beaucarnea is an extremely slow-growing plant indoors. Also called ponytail, elephant's foot, and bottle palm, as house plants they are almost indestructible. They can last months without water and are not affected by low humidity. As the ponytail ages the base becomes larger. It almost looks as if the base had been covered with elephant skin which gives the plant its other common name of "elephant foot". Usually the larger the base the more valuable the plant. A sunny location is best for this plant. Keep on the dry side and no pruning is necessary, except tips of leaves that may yellow a bit. Simply cut off the dry part of the leaf and prune the remaining green part to a new slender tip.

The roots will develop as the plant grows, so until then, water sparingly and carefully so as not to dislodge your plants.

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