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Ponytail palm

March 9, 2018
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Springtime is just the right time to try a new plant, inside or out. The ponytail palm, Beaucarnea Recurvata, will be just the new plant to try.

It needs full sun, neutral soil and very little watering or other full time care. The ponytail palm is not a real palm; it is more like a desert plant in the yucca genera.

This interesting plant comes from Eastern Mexico and grown outside in the soil may reach almost 30 feet in height. I have seen very few of the ponytails in this area. I know of one in South Fort Myers in a front yard along McGregor Boulevard. The plant sets back from the road and is indeed about 20 feet tall and it does bloom some years. The flowers are white and make a pretty white cloud at the top of stem.

I was always going to drive around there and take a photo but never did that.

What makes this plant so interesting really is the fact that the bottom of the plant is a big firm round ball. The sturdy green stem rises up and has long thin, firm green leaves that sprout out from the top like a shower.

I know it is easy care because I had one long ago when we moved to the Cape and there on the deck of the pool cage was this 3-foot palm-like plant stuffed in a large concrete, Greek-looking urn.

I did think it was some kind of palm, the owners did not know for sure but said they did not do much for it so that sounded good.

They also had a huge bush with big fan blades and they said that was also a palm. We had a lot to learn. Finally got a Florida palm book and got things straight.

There was not one bit of soil peeking out of the concrete container and the fat rounded bottom. When I ventured to water it, it was a slow job because I had to wait for the water to seep slowly down past the big bottom.

The trailing leaves were not a problem; when they turned brown they could be removed easily. We lived there over 20 years and the prior owners 7 years, so we had a beautiful specimen of a ponytail palm.

I was starting to get worried that even though it never became any larger, squeezed in its concrete tomb, the concrete might burst and what a mess that would be.

We did not want to hire people to come and remover the pot and plant. So it stayed and lived on water. I did not want to pour liquid fertilizer on the palm-like base. once in a while a bird or a butterfly was in the cage, and onetime after a storm and no screens for a couple days, dragonflies and mosquitoes, otherwise no natural nourishments.

The dear ponytail still there. A good grandchild gift.

A good long-term investment, you will just have to live a nice long life.

Ponytails are in stores right now and are about 1-foot high, and are inexpensive and in soil. Large ones would have to be ordered at a large garden center.

Sunday, March 11, is time to change our clocks as we spring forward and will be able to walk around in the evenings with light.

So walk!

Happy gardening and walking till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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