Beaucarnea, a trunk like an elephant’s foot!


Beaucarnea is a magnificent indoor tree which many find appealing for its pony-tail leafage and its amazing elephant’s foot-like trunk.

Basic Beaucarnea facts

Name – Beaucarnea
Family Agavaceae
Type shrub

20 feet (6 meters) outdoors
Exposure full sun
Soil light, well-drained

Flowering insignificant

The planting, repotting, watering and care are are all good practices that will increase its growth and protect it from falling sick.

Planting beaucarnea

Planting beaucarneaEven though it isn’t really picky in terms of soil and substrate, proper planting of your beaucarnea should help you extend its lifespan.

Beaucarnea abhors excess water and must be planted in a pot with a hole in the bottom together with a bed of gravel or clay beads at the bottom of the pot.

It loves a tight fit and must never be planted in too wide a pot.

Indoor beaucarnea

  • Use special indoor plant potting soil.
  • Best-case scenario is to repot your plant after having purchased it and then every 3 years on average.
  • Upon repotting, select a new pot that is only fractionally larger than the previous pot, because feeling cramped is important for this plant.
  • Find a very luminous place, even in indirect sunlight, but avoid direct sun that would burn and dry the leaves up.
  • Avoid positioning your beaucarnea behind a South-facing window.

Outdoor beaucarnea

  • Potted beaucarneaOutdoor beaucarnea will only adapt well to tropical climates.
  • It can then be planted indifferently both in spring or fall.
  • Choose a full sun location.

Pruning and caring for beaucarnea

Caring for beaucarneaBeaucarnea is easygoing since it only requires minimal care once it is properly settled in in your house or apartment.

Beaucarnea loathes it when temperatures drop below 50°F (10°C) in winter.

  • Indoors
    It’s possible to shorten its leaves to work on its shape and give it a more compact bearing.
    Cut leaves that are too long slantwise so that they still naturally twirl.
  • Outdoors
    It doesn’t need any pruning.

Watering beaucarnea

Beaucarnea is a plant that only requires very little water. That’s why it is actually one of the easiest indoor plants to care for in terms of watering.

  • Watering beaucarneaWhen growing potted beaucarnea, watering once a month is enough, maybe twice during extreme heat waves.
    No need to water in winter unless the leaves start drying up.
    Take note that beaucarnea deals lack of water much better than it does with excess water. Too much water makes its roots rot.
  • Outdoors, no watering is required because beaucarnea must “suffer” to grow best.

A common disease infecting beaucarnea

If you discover cottony white clumps, there is no doubt about it: scale insects.

It is then important to treat immediately because a major mealybug invasion your spell death for your beaucarnea and might even spread to other plants in your house or apartment.

Learn more about elephant’s foot

Beaucarnea is native to Mexico and is particularly at ease in dry, arid soil.

It is particularly well suited to growing indoors, but you can bring it out from May to September to let it breathe fresh air.

It loves feeling cramped and so it doesn’t need huge pots or garden boxes.

Beaucarnea has a very slow growth, which makes it an ideal indoor plant in our climates.

Beaucarnea propagation

Propagating beaucarneaPropagation, for beaucarnea, is rare as an indoor plant.

When it’s particularly healthy, it will produce offshoots. These appear around the base of the trunk, at the crown. Wait until a handful of leaves have formed, and carefully dig away around the offshoot. When you can see it clearly, cut the bulblet free from the mother plant with a sharp knife. Take care to keep roots whole on the offshoot.

Seeds are also usually fertile and germinate well. However, the plant only ever flowers outdoors in its natural environment.

Smart tip about beaucarnea, elephant’s foot

When watering, best to use water at room temperature instead of cold tap water, because any temperature difference will put your beaucarnea in shock.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
Flower Council Holland
CC BY 2.0: Maja Dumat
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0: Jeff Oien