How to grow multiple trunks on a Ponytail Palm?

Discussion in 'Caudiciforms and Pachycaul Trees' started by ringangela, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. ringangela

    ringangela Member

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    I would like to grow multiple trunks, on my Ponytail Palm. Can anyone give me directions on how to do this? I have one that has 5-6 trunks but I have never seen one like this before and would like to learn to do it myself.
     
  2. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    It is unclear how to actually stimulate multiple trunks or branching of Beaucarnea other than taking the chance on cutting the main trunk. Whether it will regenerate 1, 2, or even 6 trunks appears to be a matter of chance. I have viewed several posts where trunks have been purposely cut, animals have damaged the main trunk, or cold weather has damaged the plant...then several weeks to months later, new foliage begins to grow on the caudex of the plant. I have seen small Beaucarnea sold as "bonsai" at stores, many of them have had the main trunk cut and have 2 to 4 new stems growing from the caudex.

    If you have an "extra" plant to experiment with, give it a try...but no guarantees. If it is an older specimen plant, I probably wouldn't take the chance on shocking the plant to death.
     
  3. ringangela

    ringangela Member

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    Thank you!
    I will experiment with another plant. I am excited to see what is generated.
     
  4. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    6 weeks ago I cut the top off of one of my 20-year-old Beaucarnea recurvata's. Look what I found today. It looks like there may be 6 new buds on the top of the caudex. I will try to update this with new photos each month. I am curious how this is going to grow.
     

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  5. ringangela

    ringangela Member

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    Wow! They shoots look really good. I'm sure it will be beautifull.
     
  6. rockminer

    rockminer Active Member

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    Good job Mark! Gutsy move doing that to an old speciman. Did you coat the cut with somthing? I have been toying with cutting one of mine to get sprouts but have not worked up the nerve--lol.

    Bill
     
  7. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    When I cut the top I coated the wound with tree pruning sealer. I have also used candle wax on other plants.

    Yes, it was a gutsy move. However, this particular plant is the smaller of the two Beaucarnea recurvata that I own. If I lost this one, I'd still have the other.
     
  8. rockminer

    rockminer Active Member

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    Mark, Thanks for the information.

    Bill
     
  9. cochemiea

    cochemiea Member

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    Well, cutting the stem works, but you could also be patient, keep potting the plant into bigger pots as it grows, or plant it in the ground. When it flowers the stem will bifurcate and after a few years of flowering you will have all the branches you want. Of course there is no telling how long you might have to wait for it to flower.
     
  10. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Agree. The only Beaucarnea's that I have seen branch "naturally" were mature, in-ground specimens. Unfortunately, for many of us in the North, planting them in the ground is not an option. We're kind of stuck with stem cutting our potted plants.
     
  11. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Update: July 30, 2007. This is about 2 months after cutting the main stem of the plant. I originally thought I had 6 new stems, but it looks like 8.
     

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  12. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    Hey Mark...you might want to pot that plant up, the pot looks a tad small to me...my two cents worth anyway

    Ed
     
  13. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    I actually downsized the pot slightly, a month or so before I cut the top. With many caudiciforms and pachycaul trees in containers, this technique fattens them up and forces thicker foliage. I believe it may be a stress response of limited root growth that may trigger the thickened growth of the caudex/trunk in these plants.

    Check out the Highland Succulents link we have posted in the "Caudiciform and Succulent Culture Guide". It goes into a fair amount of detail with this technique and comparative photos.

    That said, once the new foliage begins to fill in over the year, I may find myself transplanting it into a slightly larger container. Since this plant is indoors most of year, along with the rest of my collection, I have limited space and I force my plants to stay small using bonsai techniques.

    Mark
     
  14. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    No worries mate...didn't realise that was the effect you were after, good luck

    Ed
     
  15. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Update: August 25, 2007. It now has 11 new shoots...with 3 more wanting to poke through the surface.
     

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  16. AglaonemaAddict

    AglaonemaAddict Active Member

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    Funny story: I was watching eBay one day, and saw a "rare ponytail palm" (their wording, not mine). I clicked on the link, only to see a small ponytail palm with three sprouts on the top. They said they didn't know what caused this rarity. As soon as I saw it, I thought; "I'll bet I can figure this out". I didn't want to damage my 15 year old plant, so I went to Home depot, found some in 4" pots for $1.00 on clearance. I took it home, cut the top off and sure enough, they sprouted six shoots (there were two plants). I cut some more off, and they sprouted more. So, I now own a "rare" plant for $1.00 and the time it took to snip it with scissors!

    I've also heard that if you cut the sprouts off, it will help develop a large caudex. Haven't tried repeating the process but I may, since this is my experimental plant.

    Thanks for the photos. Be glad to post mine if anyone wants to see them.
     
  17. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Update: Sept. 24, 2007. It is beginning to get too cold out overnight to keep this one outdoors. It will spend the rest of the year indoors and come out again in the Spring.
     

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  18. aleph19

    aleph19 Member

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    Hi Mark

    I join the forum to find answers to the new developments of my 7 year old ponytail. I live in Miami and I had this plant in a large pot for about 6 years, then I decided to plant it in the ground and get rid of the pot. As soon as I place it in the ground I noticed it started flowering at the top, then when the flowers dry out I cut the dry stem.

    Now comes the good part, the top has develop 4 or 5 new set of foliage and the bottom (the big foot) has develop what looks like new trunks. Someone told me those where suckers that will eventually dry the main plant, I though those could be removed and planted as new trees but they told me that new palms grow from seeds not from trunks. I'll try to post some pictures so you can see.

    BTW I like the way yours looks after cutting the trunk and new foliage came out. P9300061Reduced.jpg

    P9300059Reduced.jpg
     
  19. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    1. Those are new trunks, not suckers, and they certainly will not dry out the main plant. Removing them will not make new trees, just dead foliage...unless you have a very elaborate botanical laboratory with cloning equipment. ; ) Leave them alone and let them grow....or simply cut them off, depending upon how you want the plant to look.

    2. You are correct that Beaucarnea will mainly propogate by seed. However, under certain conditions, they do have the ability to produce offsets, but not as common. Offsets production will generally be like most plants, from underground suckers.

    Good luck. Your plant is going to look awesome in a few years.

    Mark
     
  20. paralaxvu

    paralaxvu Member

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    I found this site while looking for info on how to care for ponytail palms. I think I have another way to multiply the trunks of ponytail palms...I did it by mistake. I bought three small palms and placed them in one pot until I could get around to putting them in separate ones. I never did, and the plants just kept growing until they have now grown together into one three-footed plant! It's too dark right now to take a picture of it but I will tmw and post it here.
     
  21. aleph19

    aleph19 Member

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    I think I'll leave them and see how they look when they grow.
     
  22. aleph19

    aleph19 Member

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    That is very interesting, yes post a picture here to see how it looks.
     
  23. jano

    jano Member

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    many thanks for all this great, hopeful info. Waiting to exhale..... an easier holiday season now w/"stumpy" brot indoors for the winter just south of Austin, TX. She used to be my masterpiece of a central plant in room, but she'll take a back seat this year. Hopefully will have successful photos to share in spring, but none of these events I've read about seem to speak to an overwet situation where nothing but top was rotted off.... I believe I cut back enough of the stem to find something that looked woody and healthy. May go ahead and do the candlewax sealing process, even tho it's seemingly dried out and looks to be doing a wound healing thing....
     
  24. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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  25. kellie83fla

    kellie83fla Member

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    I just purchased my first ponytail palm, while unloading it out of the back of my truck the tallest trunk/branch snapped off! Do I leave it the way it broke? Do I cut it straight across and put the tree pruning sealer on it? I'm going to pot the piece that snapped off in cactus soil and hope for the best but I'm worried about the main tree. HELP PLEASE!
     

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