Ponytail Palm_LAH_9915Q: What houseplant can I grow that isn’t fussy about food, water, light, or much of anything else, is ignored by pests, and looks good year round?

A: Amazingly enough, the perfect (or nearly perfect) houseplant does exist. Meet the Ponytail Palm: not fussy, not buggy, and eternally good looking. Granted, I have yet to see flowers, but with all its good points, who cares about flowers?

While “Ponytail Palm” is the most widely used common name, you might also see these plants labeled as Elephant’s Foot, Monja, or Bottle Palm. This is a case where the botanical name (Beaucarnea recurvata) comes in very handy. At least that way we know which plant we’re talking about!


Helenium hyb.


Why would you grow a flower called Sneezeweed? Picture a striking, three-foot high perennial covered with 2 – 3 inch daisy-like flowers of yellow, orange, red, rust, and copper. The leaves are six inches long, lance-shaped and dark green. Plus, the name actually comes from the use of the dried leaves and flowers as snuff; the pollen is unlikely to cause hay-fever. On the other hand, continued contact with the plant can cause an allergic reaction, so it’s wise to use gloves. Also, the plants are bitter and toxic, so keep them away from small children and pets.