A small plant of easy cultivation, the beaucarnea has distant origins, in the semi-desert areas of central and southern America, where it develops like a real tree, reaching 7-9 meters in height. Cultivated in an apartment instead it has a decidedly more limited development, even if over the years it can easily reach two meters; this plant, also called nolina, is characterized by a bottle-shaped stem, technically called caudex, whose top develops a thick tuft of long thin leaves, often curled. In nature, in summer, from the center of the tuft of leaves develops a thin erect panicle that bears many small white flowers, which are difficult to find in the specimens grown in pots.
The cultivation of Beaucarnea recurvata
These plants are easy to grow, are semi-succulent and can adapt even in non-ideal development conditions. They prefer a good soil that is not excessively rich, but very well drained, then add a little sand to the universal soil and place a layer of pumice stone or lapillus at the bottom of the pot, underneath the substrate, to improve the water flow of the watering; in particular it is good to avoid excessively capacious vases, because the thin root system of the nolina seems to enjoy better health when it is "squeezed". As mentioned above the roots are thin and the root system has little development, and is very delicate, so we avoid the huge pots, and try not to repot our plant too often, to avoid touching the roots too often.
Display and watering
There beaucarnea recurvata loves well-lit positions, even when exposed to sunlight during the coolest hours of the day; however, avoid placing it near heat sources or in areas of the house subject to drafts and sudden changes in temperature. During the winter it is good to avoid placing it in places with temperatures below 10 ° C, but it is advisable to allow the plant to spend a short period of vegetative rest, placing it in the winter in a not too heated room, or in a stairwell, so that the maximum temperature does not exceed 12-15 ° C. In any case, even if always cultivated in an apartment, with 15-20 ° C, even during the winter the plant tends to adapt without excessive problems.
It is a semi-succulent plant, which stores excess water in its thick caudex, which is why it tolerates even prolonged drought; for optimal development we water the plant from March to October with regularity, intervening only when the soil is dry; during the winter months we water only sporadically. If the plant spends the winter in a cool place the waterings can also be suspended completely.
Eat smoke - Beaucarnea recurvata: Some tricks
Although the species eats smoke is accustomed to drought, if in addition to the soil in the pot the climate is also dry, this plant is attacked with great ease by the cochineal, which nestles at the center of the tuft of leaves, making it difficult to remove. We therefore remind you to spray the foliage occasionally, in order to increase the environmental humidity; we frequently watch the leaves to promptly remove the first cochineal specimens, so as not to find large colonies to be eradicated.
With the passage of time it often happens that some of the long leaves tend to be damaged, due to the dry heat of the houses, an excessive insolation, the passage of people: periodically we remove the leaves with a dark margin, with dry ends or other signs, in order to favor the plant's development of new foliage.
From the stem of our smoke eating can also develop further tufts of leaves; we can keep our plant slightly branched, or we can remove the excess tufts and root them in a mixture of chopped peat and sand in equal parts; in this way we will soon have a new plant, although it will take a few years to constitute a caudex. Beaucarneae are also called smoke-eating plants; this nickname has erroneously led some to give these plants to their smoking friends, thinking that the presence of beaucarnea in a home decreases exposure to second-hand smoke. In reality, the plant's nickname comes from its places of origin, where it appears that the beaucarneae are among the few plants that survive fires, quite frequent in semi-desert areas.