How to Prune and Care for Ponytail Palm Trees

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Pruning shears
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About the Author

A passionate writer for more than 30 years, Marlene Affeld writes of her love of all things natural. Affeld's passion for the environment inspires her to write informative articles to assist others in living a green lifestyle. She writes for a prominent website as a nature travel writer and contributes articles to other online outlets covering wildlife, travel destinations and the beauty of nature.