Plant of the Month
Photos: Rachel Cobb
Common Name: Ponytail Palm, Elephant’s Foot
Growth Habit: Upright shrub with one to several trunks
Cultural Requirements: These plants are very easy to grow in well-drained soils as they are very drought tolerant. They prefer full sun, but tolerate shade. In fact, they are so shade tolerant that small specimens are good houseplants and require less water than most other common house plants.
The plants can be damaged at temperatures in the mid twenties so outside they are probably best in coastal areas or other mostly frost-free sites.
Features/Uses:The most remarkable feature of these plants are their thick swelling trunks, which resemble elephant’s feet. Another attraction is the graceful weeping, evergreen foliage, which hangs down in a ponytail fashion. If planted in full sun upright clusters of small white-cream colored flowers often bloom in late summer or fall. The bronze seed clusters are attractive later.
These dramatic plants, which are native to eastern Mexico, are best used as specimen plants in the landscape either singly or in small groups. They can also be used in containers or as houseplants.
Bloom Time: late summer and fall
Where in the Garden: Undersea Garden, Hamilton Children’s Garden – Elephant Foot Forest
Photos: Rachel Cobb and Herb Knufken