Issue: May 17, 2003

Propagate Ponytail Palm

Question:

I have a Ponytail palm that has developed two offshoots. Is there a way to cut them off and pot them? One shoot is about 4" the other is only about 2". They are developing from the "ball" of the plant itself.

Answer:

I have never propagated my ponytail palm in this manner but, according to the information on propagating Beaucarnea recurvata (the ponytail palm), it is easily propagated by rooting the offsets in the springtime. If you choose to remove the offsets, use a well-drained potting soil or sand to root the cuttings. Application of a little rooting hormone to the base of the cutting should also help. If you want to be somewhat more cautious, you can layer the offsets by placing some moist sphagnum moss at the base of the offsets. Moisten this moss one or more times each day by spraying with water. You will probably not need to wrap the moss in plastic as is done in traditional "air layering" because this plant needs the root zone to be somewhat dry. Moistening and allowing it to dry should encourage root growth. When roots form in the sphagnum, the offset may be removed from the plant and potted separately in well-drained potting soil. Once again, the use of some rooting powder at the base of the offset, though it is still attached to the parent plant, may help it form roots.

Ash Tree Leaves Curling

Question:

My Arizona ash tree is about 9 years old. This year is really bad compared to last year with this: The leaves are curled up with white stuff in them. The tree is dripping and dropping white stuff. Can you tell me what it is, and can I spray it with anything? Your help would be appreciated. I am tired of looking like I have dandruff! Kathy M. Hobbs, NM

Answer:

What you are describing is an aphid, a small insect that feeds on the young leaves of the ash tree causing its leaves to curl. They are present only a short while, do little damage (more nuisance than anything else), and by the time you get around to spraying, they are gone. The white stuff you describe is their shed skins (insects grow by shedding their outer exoskeleton - skins). If there are still some active aphids in the leaves, the best treatment is to wash them with a strong jet of water. This will often cause some of the aphids to fall out of the leaves. There are many predator insects that eat aphids, so use of insecticides will probably do more harm to the predators than to the aphids.

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Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu or at https://www.facebook.com/DesertBloomsNM/. Please include your county Extension Agent (aces.nmsu.edu/county) and your county of residence with your question!

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page: desertblooms@nmsu.edu.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.