My MIL has had this forever and it lives on. Orobably that is because of the dry apartment air and her forgettimg to water it. My real question is what is under those rocks? What do they usually use under that? Whatever in this case it has been unchanged for i f not know how many years.
ponytail aka beaucarnea with glued rock potting
One way to see what is there is to look, of course. Taking most pants out of their pots is not really harmful to them. Probably all you'll find are roots. Sounds like it has not been repotted in a while, I suggest you do so now. Great house plant. I believe the Latin name has been changed recently. I have several ponytails of different sizes. One is over 70 yrs. old. And, I even have a variegated one! What's a "MIL?" Gene
Thanks, I suppose you're right- my guess is all of any organic soil that might have been there has probably turned all the way to humic acid and washed away by now , leaving a network of generations of roots in various stages of life and death.
It's not even loose. Those rocks are as stuck as the day they did it. I'm not interested enough, given time constraints, to unpot it.
Mother in law.
Am I right in assuming saving the plant isn't much of a priority? I'm not asking in a judgmental way (at all) - just trying to decide if I want to launch into a discussion of how to best turn it around and set it on a prosperous course.
Gee, I thought on this forum most any plant was worth "saving." Gene
Have to be honest- This is MIL's plant and she is well into Alzheimers dementia so I could point to this plant every day and say, "See I bought you a new plant" and she'd be delighted. Yet, I can not bring myself to take 'her' plant away from her. I have enough plants in my house as it is.
I appreciate the comments, just curious about the unseen nether regions of such plants.
I had a little succulent I got off the sale rack at Lowe's a few years ago. When I got it home I tried to repot it, but discovered the nice rocks were glued together, like yours. I then left it in the pot for a year or so, but then it started to decline. I used a pair of pliers to break apart the rocks, I think they were strangling it by being glued into a circle that could not expand.. It survived, but now I can't remember which one of my plants it is or I would post a picture.
I have 2 old Pony Tail palms. One a single bulb--and the bigger pot with 5 bulbs in it.
NO rocks on the surface! :o)
Once they bulb grows bigger and bigger--there is, probably, not much soil left
down there. The bulbs displace the soil as they swell. These store water--as you
well know...so in that sense, they are "forever" (?) self-sufficient.
The bulb can grow to completely fill the pot--and it will still be OK.
As for the stones on top--I think they do that for decorative purposes and
so the plant(s) won't fall out.
I have seen, that when i am tossing the plants down the chute. the stone layer is,
maybe, 1/2" thick.It is just a thin, top layer of the stones--all sprayed with
some kind of "glue". All the cacti and succulents sold have the same stones.
Keeps the "arrangements" from falling apart. The soil below is usually very sandy.
The stones glued on top are a decoration and help keep the grainy soil from spilling from the container during transport or sometimes rough handling they get before they reach the new grower's home.
Two very common misconceptions about this plant are, 1) they like to be root bound or being root bound is good for the plant, and 2) they like to go dry between waterings. Both are myths.
Root congestion limits growth and vitality in ponytails just as it limits same in other plants. See the sticky at the top of this forum for more info on how root congestion affects growth and vitality.
The plant also doesn't LIKE to go dry between waterings. In fact, ponytails like a lot of water, but don't tolerate wet feet well. The plant performs best in very fast (draining) soils with lots of aeration and room for roots to run, regular watering, regular feeding, and lots of very bright light and warm temps.
This plant happens to TOLERATE drought stress and tight roots rather well, but what it tolerates is no measure of what it prefers.
Gita thanks for reporting what you have found. Yours are doing well, I have seen them.
Al I have read your posts. I may tackle my plant in spring. It did seem to respong by growing when I started watering it again in its current situation.
Meanwhile for interest of anyone looking up this plant and finding the thread , here is a ponytail growing more to its potential in Puerto Rico. On a shaded balcony and with its size I doubt it ever gets moved. Plenty of humid air with good breezes.. I am six feet tall.
I bought a 50 cent ponytail bulb (maybe an inch across) about 20 years ago from Home Depot or Lowe's. I moved it up to each successive size pot through the years until its final home at maybe a 15 inch pot where it has resided for the last 10 years. I topped it last year because it was over 7 feet tall. I see no reason to give it a bigger pot as it is difficult to move in and out each year. In tropical areas where it is in the ground I've seen them 6 feet across or more and the one in the Atlanta Botanical Garden's atrium is the tallest I've seen (maybe 30 feet tall or more).
When should one stop moving these up to a bigger pot?
My ponytail a few years ago. The ponytail at ABG (both photos are the same with the second one cropped to show the top of this massive plant).
"When should one stop moving these up to a bigger pot?" The short answer would be, "About the time additive growth is no longer something you desire. If the grower understands the results of growing the plant tight are slow growth and less vitality, he/she would normally make that decision based on how much larger he/she wants the plant to be. From the plant's perspective, the stress of tight roots is always going to be a bad thing. The plant wants to grow. A reduction in growth means less vitality and slower metabolism. Since the plant's defenses are a byproduct of its metabolic rate, tight roots = less growth = slower metabolism = compromised defenses. Plants that stop growing or are losing mass are actually dying, unless the trend is reversed. Plants MUST produce more energy than they use, the result of which is made manifest in added mass (growth).
From the grower's perspective, the stress of tight roots can be looked at as a tool. If we know tight roots inhibits growth, and we don't want the plant to grow larger, we can impose that stress to bend the plant to OUR will, instead of letting it do its own thing; but it's always better to know how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together if we're going to make growing decisions that affect growth and vitality. Unfortunately, what the grower likes/wants is so often mutually exclusive of what the plant needs and wants to be at its best.
One of the reasons bonsai can remain healthy in tiny pots for hundreds of years is because we don't allow the condition of tight roots to hold the reigns of vitality. We allow the plant to grow as fast as it wants, but then remove a large fraction of the growth mass (roots AND shoots) on a regular basis. That's a viable option for PTPs, too should a grower want to employ that strategy.
Maybe I will give this pot bound ponytail palm a good root pruning this spring as I don't want it any larger.
If you give it a good root-pruning along with a larger pot and appropriate soil, its growth rate should increase dramatically.
Really don't want it to get any bigger - thanks anyway.
It looks like the glued rock layer did not constrict the growth at all.
Oh thank you for the post, I bought the same type with glued rocks from Costco about 10 years ago. I am guessing your plant is doing good? I will repot mine this fall and see what happens.
Best time to repot this plant is around Father's day or a little before if you live in the deep south.
I slipped this guy out of his current pot and it has grown a lot of new roots. Thanks again tapla and all for advice. MIL turned 98 this week.
Good work, Sally. Wish your MIL a happy birthday for me?
will do Al, thanks! this will qualify as an heirloom plant , lol.
Did you know your PT Palm is not a palm at all? that it's from the family Lilaceae, and as such is closely related to the lily?
Have a good TG (in case we don't bump into one another before then).
fun fact! I'll make a personal committment to refer to them as just Ponytails, or Beaucarnea with or without recurvata. I've heard several other unrelated houseplants called 'palm like' by lay people due to having a single bare stem topped with a spray of leaves.
And same well wishes to you, Al
Kind of like Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei) or Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) or Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii). At least most everyone knows what you are talking about using a common name.
you got it.
Did you know Dracaena marginata is a 'palm tree' lol? A couple of people have told me so. (chuckkkle)
That is my battle as well--the common names vs. Horticultural names.
Once in a while I make a small fuss--and then people try to oblige
by using the common names. Some use both.
And then, slowly-it goes back to "Chinese'....;o
Some always do use common names along with the hort. names.--like Greenthumb.
I so appreciate it.
Some of the botanical names are too difficult to pronounce let alone spell so the common name is easier to grasp (for most folks) and an easy way to find the botanical name via Google.