Beaucarnéa (Elephant foot) : maintenance culture repotting and watering

Genre Beaucarnea brings together different species of delicious, some of them reaching a height of 10 m in their natural environment. Native to semi-desert regions of Central America and Mexico. In regions with a temperate climate, the representative of the genus most cultivated as a houseplant is Beaucarnea recurvatanicknamed elephant foot or bottle tree due to the swollen shape of its trunk. Beaucarnéa is easy to grow indoors and under certain conditions outdoors, but you have to be careful when watering it. Let’s do a check in.

Caring for a Beaucarnéa

With some good care, this beautiful tropical plant can live for many years.


Elephant’s Foot foliage likes to be misted regularly between April and September. Occasional misting in winter is also necessary.


From the beginning of spring to the end of summer, contributions offertilizer for green plants are welcome. This type of fertilizer is to be diluted in the irrigation water. These contributions must cease during the entire period of vegetative rest.


On be glad remove dry leaves. However, pruning is necessary in old subjects. This promotes the formation of new shoots. In this case, it is in the spring that it is necessary cut the trunk below the crown of leaves, because at this time vegetation resumes. After pruning the trunk, apply charcoal on the wound to promote healing.


The Elephant’s foot grown in the ground must be protected in winter by a thick mulch and one winter sail which is removed as soon as spring returns.

Pests and diseases

Beaucarnéa is sometimes infested with spider mites or, more rarely, scale insects, especially if it is grown in a greenhouse. These pests can be avoided by regular spraying of the foliage. On the other hand, this plant is not sensitive to no particular disease if it is cultivated in good conditions of course. Beware of excess water that causes root rot.

Cultivating Beaucarnea

The spring is the best time of year to plant a Beaucarnéa. It appreciates a light and rich substrate, composed in equal parts of heathland and of leaf mold or potting soil for green plants. For a pot culture, it is better to avoid plastic and offer it a plastic container. terracotta preferably wider than high, the bottom of which is pierced.

We take the precaution of depositing at the bottom of the pot a drainage layer such as clay balls, non-calcareous gravel or terracotta chips, which are then covered with the substrate. All that remains is to install the root ball in the center and fill in with the culture mixture, taking great care not to damage its roots because their reconstruction is very slow. Small feature: the swollen base of the foot must not be buried.

If you want to grow a Beaucarnéa in the groundit is installed in the sun, in a hole slightly larger than the root ball, at the bottom of which it is essential to deposit a thick layer of sand to ensure perfect drainage for the plant.

The Beaucarnéa being chillyhe must be able to benefit from a minimum temperature of 10°C. Note that below 4°C, it suffers. On the other hand, it supports up to 30°C. Cultivated as a houseplant, it likes a very bright room provided that it is kept away from the glazing so that it is not burned by the direct rays of the sun.

on outdoor cultivation is only possible in our southernmost regions and it is important to install it in a corner sheltered from drafts. Everywhere else, we just take it out in the summer. But don’t forget to bring it back in September.

Repotting a Beaucarnéa (Elephant’s foot)

In a pot, an Elephant’s Foot grows very slowly and does not exceed 2 meters in height, whereas it can reach 8 meters in its natural environment. In addition, this plant likes to be cramped. There is therefore no rush to repot a Beaucarnéa. Let’s say a repotting every 4 years is sufficient to renew the entire substrate. The new pot should be slightly larger than the previous one.

Watering a Beaucarnéa

This succulent can’t stand having its roots soaking in water. For an Elephant’s Foot to remain in good health, we therefore absolutely avoid installing it in a water tank and we ensure that watering is moderate. The ideal is to plant your Beaucarnéa in a well-draining substrate and, as we specified above, in a small container with a pierced bottom.

Throughout the hot period, it can be watered at most once a week. In winter, monthly watering is sufficient. It should be noted that Beaucarnéa suffers more easily from excess water than from drought. Moreover, if it is grown outdoors, it can absolutely not be watered because a little rain from time to time is enough for it. But inside and out the saucer must be emptied where there should never be standing water.

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