Beaucarnea recurvata (Elephant’s Foot Plant)
Native to eastern Mexico
Bright with some direct sun. Avoid low to medium light.
18-30°C (spring-fall). Give a rest at 10-13°C (winter). Protect from cold drafts.
Average. Tolerant of dry air.
Every 2 -3 weeks. Water moderately (spring-fall) and allow moist potting mix to dry completely. Water more sparingly (winter) and allow barely moist mix to dry completely. Drought tolerant. Never stand plant in water. Sensitive to overwatering and susceptible to root rot. Always check moisture level before watering. Aerate mix to improve its condition.
Once a month (spring-summer only). Use organic houseplant fertilizer, according to packaging instructions.
Every 1-2 weeks, rotate plant to ensure even growth. Every 1-2 months, give your plant a tepid shower: gently spray leaf tops/undersides to free them of dust, and soak mix to leach accumulated salts. Remove spent leaves at their base. Trim brown or dried tips to a point.
Potting and Repotting
Mix of 3 parts soil-based to 1 part coarse sand or perlite. Transplant once pot-bound. Every 2-3 years (spring) move plant into a planter 1-2” larger (diameter and depth). Top dress annually, once maximum convenient planter size reached.
Special Points/Common Problems:
- Not a true palm but a member of the desert-dwelling Agave family. Stores water in its bulbous, elephantine trunk.
- Brown or crispy leaf tips and pale, limp or curling leaves may suggest underwatering.
- Yellowing leaves, brown spots or mushiness around the plant’s base often suggest rot or root disease from overwatering.
- Mature plants may produce panicles of white or red flowers (summer). Flowering lasts for several weeks and seedpods develop over 3 months.