Of kumquats and pony tail palms

Our local Costco warehouse recently had a nice selection of extremely reasonably priced citrus trees in 5-gallon containers and I couldn’t resist grabbing a kumquat. I’ve always wanted one—I think the small, bright fruit looks very cheery in the dead of winter, and you can just pull it off the tree and eat it without peeling.

The variety I got is called Fukushu and apparently it’s widely grown as a potted plant in Japan. I took my cues from that and put mine in a red glazed pot next to our backyard fence. I think it looks great there, and there is still room for smaller plants at the base of the pot.

Kumquats, by the way, are considered the most cold hardy of all citrus. They can take temperatures as low as 15°F, far lower than most other varieties.


On my way home from the Carmichael Cactus & Succulent Society show on Saturday I stopped by a Home Depot for a few things I needed. They had a large plant sale area set up in the parking lot, featuring among other things potted pony tail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata). These were not the small plants you typically find, but larger specimens with a 6” caudex in 13” glazed pots. Even though we already have beaucarnea triplets (see below), I couldn’t resist. Plants this size typically sell for $50—without a glazed pot! Home Depot had them for half that.


Since the pony tail palm was already in a pot, all I needed to do was find a place for it. It went in the backyard, too, not far from the kumquat.

120420_kumquat beaucarnea

Speaking of the pony tail palm triplets in our front yard, here they are. They look a bit shaggy and could use a trim to better show off the caudices. But I will wait until the fall because I don’t want the caudices to get sun-burned.


Since they’re triplets, there are three caudices. I bought them this way, squished together into a 3-gallon pot. The caudices have grown tremendously in the four years they’ve been in the ground.


Look what else is hiding under all that strappy foliage:


A few Queen Victoria agaves (Agave victoria-reginae)! The large one is beginning to look quite impressive, especially when you ignore the spider webs.


There are also a couple of smaller Queen Victoria agaves that are very close to the caudices of the pony tail palms, and those need to be moved soon. When we planted this succulent bed, there was quite a distance between all the plants but now everything is becoming more mature.


  1. Mom had a Loquat in her back yard and dearly loved the fruit! Yum! Got quite big tho. I think she planted a pit from one. Amazing. Don't know how it compares to the Kumquat weather wise.


    1. Becky, loquat isn't a citrus. I'm not sure what its growing requirements are, but it's definitely a much bigger tree than a kumquat.

  2. It's nice to see the Beaucarnea doing so well, and 'triplets' too! Mind you,I think the plant looks great as it is despite hiding the caudices but either way the plant looks wonderful. It must be loving the free root run hence the relatively fast growth rate of the triplets.

    Kumquat is a fantastic choice for a citrus, adds a touch of the mediterranean to your garden :)

    1. I do have a fondness for plants with strappy leaves, like beaucarneas, cordylines, yuccas, etc. But the caudices are super cool so I want to be able to see more of them.

  3. The biggest of those triplets looks like it has a couple of babies -- is that right?

    I love being surprised by the big-box stores -- usually common plants in terrible condition, but sometimes you find a gem.

    1. I don't quite know how these three plants ended up like this but maybe the nursery didn't thin out the seedlings? Or a tissue-culture accident if that's where they originally came from? I don't think the two smaller ones are babies of the larger one.

      The big-box stores sometimes have fantastic plants but you need to get there right after they receive a shipment. After a while the plants start to languish, especially those with special cultivation requirements (like succulents, which usually get watered to death).

  4. How big is the largest caudex among the triplets? Is it much bigger than your new baby?
    Cool fence design!

    1. I meant to give that info in my blog post but forgot. The largest caudex among the triplets is a little over 9 inches in diameter so it's significantly bigger than the new one in the blue pot.


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