How to Prune and Care for Ponytail Palm Trees

Written by marlene affeld
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How to Prune and Care for Ponytail Palm Trees
Trim ponytail palms with sharp shears, making a clean cut at the base of the plant. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The "Ponytail Palm," commonly called elephant-foot tree, nolina or bottle palm, is not a palm tree. Native to the deserts of Mexico, the unusual plant is a horticultural curious member of the lily family (Lilaceae). The plant presents leaves similar to a palm tree, a thin trunk and thick base, hence the name "bottle palm," Hardy, drought-tolerant and easy to grow, the ponytail palm is a popular houseplant.

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Things you need

  • Sharp knife
  • Pruning shears

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  1. 1

    Provide a sunny location with adequate air circulation. Ponytail palms do not like to live in an interior location where they are exposed to cold drafts or air conditioning. Outdoors, ponytail palms will thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 12.

  2. 2

    Avoid excess watering. Ponytail palms are extremely drought-tolerant, storing water in the base of the trunk of the plant. Overwatering can easily kill a ponytail palm.

  3. 3

    Trim dead or yellowed leaves. Cut the unattractive leaves at their base, using a sharp knife or pruning shears. Cut the leaf 1/4-inch from the trunk.

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