The history of the elephant foot plant
The elephant's foot (Beaucarnea recurvata) belongs to the asparagus family and grows in the hot and dry regions of South America. It is closely related to the Yucca and is considered one of the most popular indoor plants and Europe. Not only the curved long leaves make them popular, but also the thick tuber and the slender trunk.
The elephant's foot is also popularly known as bottle tree. It's great for the summer months on the patio, but needs to be brought back in as soon as it gets cooler.
The elephant's foot can grow up to 1.5 meters tall, but in the wild it can even reach 9 meters. It grows very slowly and can reach old age. The bark trunk serves as a water reservoir for the plant, so you hardly have to water it.
In sunny and warm locations, the elephant's foot can also form small white flowers. However, this only happens after a few years, but almost never at all in indoor culture.
The right place for your elephant foot
The elephant foot loves bright and especially sunny locations. Being a desert plant, it doesn't like the shade too much. It easily handles high temperatures, but it is better to soften the intense midday heat with curtains.
Drafts are not good for the elephant's foot. Put it in a sheltered place. Of course you can also put your elephant foot outside.
Tip: Get your elephant foot used to the outdoor location step by step. To do this, first put your elephant's foot outside in the shade and place it in a brighter place every few days.
Elephant foot care: It's that easy!
The elephant's foot is one of the easy-care indoor plants. Basically, you can't go wrong when it comes to caring for it. However, we have a few tips for you if you are concerned about watering, fertilizing, repotting and co. are not sure.
The right soil for your elephant foot
The right soil is important for the elephant's foot. So that your feet don't get too wet, the soil should be well drained and loose. Cactus soil is best suited here. You can easily get these in the garden center or on the Internet.
You should keep this in mind when watering
The elephant's foot stores water in its trunk and therefore hardly needs to be watered. Water it moderately during the vegetative phase. Water your elephant's foot until the first drops run out of the pot.
The elephant's foot absolutely does not tolerate waterlogging, so it is particularly important that the irrigation water can drain off completely and is then poured out of the cachepot. Avoid frequent watering, otherwise the leaves will turn brown quickly. Another plant that hardly needs water is Echeveria Elegans, feel free to read more about them in our article
Tip: Check with your finger whether the soil is still moist. Then you don't have to water them.
The correct fertilization of your elephant foot
The elephant foot needs very little fertilizer as it can store nutrients in its trunk. It is best to fertilize once in spring and once in summer with liquid cactus fertilizer.
Do you have to cut your elephant foot?
The elephant's foot doesn't need a cut, on the contrary, it could do more harm. You can easily cut off the brown tips of the leaves, but be careful not to cut into the green.
If the elephant's foot has outgrown you after decades, you can shorten the trunk.Wound treatment is not necessary. The houseplant will sprout again after a while.
Should you repot your elephant foot?
The elephant's foot grows very slowly and can do with little soil as it stores water and nutrients in the trunk. Only repot your plant when the spherical beginning of the trunk almost covers the pot surface or when the roots are already trying to push themselves out of the pot.
The elephant's foot is a shallow root, so choose a shallow container when repotting. The ideal time for repotting is in spring, from early February to mid-March. You can read more tips on repotting in our article on this topic.
Hibernate your elephant foot properly
In winter, temperatures should be between 10 and 15°C. If the elephant's foot is cooler in winter, it does not have to be watered. You don't have to fertilize your elephant foot either.
If the pots are placed on cold stone floors, you should definitely place a wooden board or styrofoam plate under them in winter to protect the root ball against the cold ground.
Increase elephant foot: how it works!
If you want to increase your elephant foot, then the side shoots of large elephant feet are very suitable for this. You can cut off the side shoots formed in the leaf axils in summer and place them in cactus soil.
The more common and better method is seed propagation, as this allows the stem to grow into the typical shape better. However, it is more difficult to collect your own seeds, since the elephant's foot only very rarely produces flowers and then fruits. However, you can easily buy seeds online.
Is the elephant foot poisonous?
For cats, the thin leaves of the elephant's foot are very attractive. They love to eat them, but be careful! Unfortunately they are poisonous. Larger amounts of the leaves harm the animals because the saponins they contain irritate the mucous membrane.
The right room for your elephant foot
The right room for your elephant foot should definitely be bright and warm. Since the plant is poisonous, it's best to keep it out of the reach of your animals.
Tips for problems with your elephant foot
If the leaves of your plant turn yellow and soft, you have usually made a mistake when caring for the elephant's foot. Reasons for this are, for example, root damage caused by waterlogging or strongly fluctuating temperatures in winter. If the air is too dry, spider mites and scale insects can infest your elephant's foot.
Tip: The infested plants should definitely be isolated from the other indoor plants. Rinse the pests under the shower or sink with lukewarm water and treat the leaves with some soft soap solution.
As you can see, taking care of the elephant's foot is not difficult at all. It should only get a bright place and not be watered too often. If you don't have an elephant's foot in your apartment yet, you can easily buy it in our shop.
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