A small plant that is easy to grow, the beaucarnea has distant origins, in the semi-desert areas of Central and South America, where it develops like a real tree, reaching 7-9 metres in height.
Cultivated in an apartment, on the contrary, it has a decidedly more contained development, even if, during the years, it can easily reach the two metres; this plant, also called nolina, is characterized by a bottled stem, technically called caudex, at the top of which develops a thick tuft of long thin leaves, often curled.
In the wild, in summer, from the centre of the tuft of leaves, a thin erect panicle develops, which carries many small white flowers, which are difficult to find in the specimens cultivated in pots.
The cultivation of the Beaucarnea recurvata
These plants are easy to grow, semi-subsculpting and can also adapt to non-ideal growing conditions.
They prefer a good soil, not too rich, but very well drained, therefore, let’s add to the universal mould a little of sand and place on the bottom of the pot a layer of pumice or lapillus stone, under the substratum, in order to improve the drainage of the water of the watering; in particular, it is good to avoid excessively large pots, because the thin rooting apparatus of the nolina seems to have a better health when it is “in straits”.
As said above, the roots are thin and the root system has little development, and is very delicate, so let’s avoid the huge pots, and try not to repot our plant too often, to avoid touching too often the roots.
- The Beaucarnea recurvata is commonly called nolina, or smoke-eating plant, in fact the botanical name now most credited is beaucarnea recurvata, since all the plants of the genus nolina are…
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- I have a plant “of smoke” from about 20 years, reached the height of about 1meter and 50, remains outside on a partially covered terrace …has always been very nice and full … this winter has risen to the top of the …
Exposure and watering
The beaucarnea recurvata loves well-lit positions, even when exposed to sunlight in the coolest hours of the day, but we avoid placing it near heat sources or in areas of the house subject to drafts of air and sudden changes in temperature.
During the winter it is best 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 winter in a room that is not too hot, or in a stairwell, so that the maximum temperature is not higher than 12-15°C. In any case, even if always grown 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 in its thick caudex excess water, for this reason it bears even prolonged drought; for an optimal development let’s water the plant from March to October regularly, acting only when the soil is dry; during the winter months instead let’s water only sporadically. If the plant spends the winter in a cool place, watering 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 is dry also the climate, this plant is attacked with great ease by the cochineal, which nests in the center of the tuft of leaves, making it difficult to remove.
Therefore, let’s remember to vaporize the foliage every now and then, in order to increase the ambient humidity; let’s frequently supervise the leaves, in order to promptly remove the first specimens of cochineal, so as not to find ourselves with large colonies to be eradicated.
With the passing of time it often happens that some of the long leaves tend to get damaged, because of the dry heat of the houses, excessive sunshine, the passage of people: periodically remove the leaves with a dark margin, with dry tips or other signs, so as to encourage the development of new foliage by the plant.
From the stem of our smoke-eater we can also develop further clumps of leaves; we can keep our plant slightly branched, or we can remove the excess clumps and root them in a mixture of chopped peat and sand in equal parts; in this way we will soon have a new plant, even if it will take a few years to form a caudex.
Beaucarneas are also called smoke-eating plants; this nickname has mistakenly led some to give these plants to smoking friends, thinking that the presence in a house of a beaucarnea decreases exposure to passive smoking. In reality, the plant’s nickname comes from its place of origin, where it seems that the beaucarnee are among the few plants that survive fires, quite frequent in semi-desert areas.
- The Beaucarnea recurvata is commonly called nolina, or smoke-eating plant, in fact the botanical name now most acclaimed in the world.
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