Care to have a healthy and beautiful beaucarnea recurvata

Care to have a healthy and beautiful beaucarnea recurvata

You may not identify which plant we are talking about if we name it as beaucarnea recurvata, but surely you have seen it on occasion, you may even have it at home. This is the variety also known as elephant's foot, disheveled nolita or pot-bellied palm.

A slow growing variety with which we must be patient. It gives good results as a houseplant as long as we give it the care it needs, which may be a little different from other houseplants.

Origin and natural habitat of the beaucarnea recurvata

Origin and natural habitat of the beaucarnea recurvata

Knowing more about the place of origin and natural habitat of this plant will help you understand what type of environment and care you should provide for it.

It is a variety native to Mexico, very common in the states of Veracruz, Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosí. It grows in semi-arid regions, where it is exposed to full sun and has well-drained soils at its disposal.

It is not unusual for it to grow in rocky areas with little vegetation, which tells us about its great capacity to adapt to difficult environments.

It belongs to the Asparagaceae family, which includes a wide variety of plants, most of which are highly appreciated in gardening and horticulture.

Physical characteristics of beaucarnea recurvata

Physical characteristics of beaucarnea recurvata

Within palm type indoor plants, The elephant's foot has become one of the most popular. It is easily identifiable by its physical characteristics:

swollen base

Without a doubt, what is most striking about this species is that its base has a swollen and bulbous appearance. This base is known as caudex and can reach a size considerable when the plant grows in its natural habitat.

Water accumulates here, and this is what allows this variety to survive even in extreme drought conditions.

The swollen appearance of the base, together with its rough appearance, is what has earned the Beaucarnea recurvata the nickname elephant's foot.


The trunk is much narrower than the base, and can branch as the plant matures. Its appearance is usually smooth and the color can vary between gray and light brown.


This species It is characterized by its long, thin and arched leaves. In fact, its name “recurvata” refers to the curvature of its leaves.

They are narrow, leathery, with a somewhat rigid texture and edges that can be smooth or slightly serrated. Their color is bright green and they can measure up to 1,5 meters in length.


It is not common for this species to flower when grown indoors. The flowers appear on specimens that have reached maturity, and are white or cream in color, grouped in erect panicles that develop during the spring or summer months.

root system

This variety is characterized by having shallow but extensive roots, this allows it to absorb water and nutrients even in poor soils, and also stabilize in rocky soils like those found in its natural habitat.


This is a slow growing plant. Indoors it can reach between 1,5 and 2 meters in length if it survives for many years. However, outdoors, it can reach 9 meters in height and have a very thick caudex.

What care does beaucarnea recurvata need?

What care does beaucarnea recurvata need?

The elephant's foot requires specific care to grow strong and healthy, but it is not complicated. In fact, it is a fairly resistant variety, so It is not a bad choice for those new to caring for indoor plants.

Light conditions

This variety prefers bright, indirect light, although it can also tolerate some direct light. Therefore, the perfect location is near a sunny window, but where the sun's rays are previously filtered by a curtain.

If it does not receive enough light, you will notice that its growth becomes even slower and that its leaves become thinner and lose density.


Elephant's foot is very resistant to drought, so watering should be moderate. We have to let the substrate dry completely between waterings, since it is possible that the roots will rot if it receives too much water.

You can water once a week or every ten days, and in winter you can space out the watering frequency even more, because the plant is in a resting phase.

To water, apply water evenly around the base of the plant, so that it reaches all the roots. And remember to remove the water that drains after irrigation.

Beaucarnea recurvata planting medium

The best thing for this variety is to use a well-drained substrate. You can without any problem use a special mixture for cacti and succulents, since it has a lot in common with these plants.

If you use universal substrate, Add a little coarse sand or perlite to improve drainage. And, in any case, use a pot that has holes that help expel excess water after watering.

Every two or three years change the plant to a slightly larger one to give more space to the roots, and always use a new substrate.

Humidity and temperature

This is a variety accustomed to warm environments. The ideal temperature is between 15º and 26º C, Therefore, we do not recommend planting it as an outdoor plant in regions with cold winters.

As far as humidity is concerned, it is not demanding in this matter. It adapts well to typical home humidity. However, if the environment is very dry, you can sporadically spray its leaves with a little water.


It is recommended to use a balanced fertilizer every two or three months during spring and summer, which is when the plant is in the active growth phase.

However, Always keep in mind that this is a variety whose growth can be very slow, so you may not notice big changes after fertilization. Even so, do not hesitate to provide nutrients with the frequency that we have indicated, because the plant will appreciate it.

As you have seen, taking care of the beaucarnea recurvata is not difficult at all. Once you find the perfect location and watering frequency, you're all set to enjoy it for years to come.

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