How to care for an elephant foot plant

All plants need a series of care for them to develop, grow and reproduce properly. Knowing the needs of the plants and covering them adequately is easier with native or typical crops of the territory, since they adapt perfectly to the environment as they originate from that place. However, there is more ignorance about the care of plants from other places and, therefore, it is more important to be well informed about them.

In this article we want to talk about a tropical plant: the elephant foot or nolina plant. This plant is native to Mexico, it reaches a height of 10 meters in indigenous lands, but planted in a pot it does not exceed one and a half meters. If you want to discover how to care for an elephant foot plant, as well as the most common pests and diseases that it suffers and the treatments it needs, we recommend that you continue reading this article, whether you live in a tropical area, which is the most suitable climate for la nolina, as if you live in another type of climate.


One of the main health hazards of nolina, the name by which the elephant foot plant is also known, is falling into excessive watering or leaving it wet for several days, since it is a succulent plant that stores water in its roots and lower part of the trunk.

Thus, among the main care of the elephant foot plant, it must be borne in mind that it does not need to be watered very much: do it 2 times a week when it is in the high temperature and growth season. In winter, reduce the frequency of watering the elephant foot so as not to harm its health. You can easily check the plant’s need for water at all times: you just have to sink a finger into the substrate and if it feels dry in 3-4 cm, choose to water it.

In addition, here we recommend that, 10 or 20 minutes after watering the plant, remove the accumulated water in the plate placed under the pot if you use it. Thus, you will prevent the plant substrate from receiving more moisture than it needs. We also advise you to read this other post on How to water succulents.


Knowing well what are the care of the elephant foot plant may seem not easy, but we help you discover them and, after learning about irrigation, we continue with one of the most important: light. Grown outdoors it will grow best when placed in the sun and with a little shade.

On the other hand, if you do an indoor crop, you will have to place it in the most illuminated area of ​​the home so that it can perceive the solar rays it needs to grow. If you have acclimatized it to indoor areas and one day you have to take it outside, then avoid it being in direct contact with the sun and put it in semi-shade. In spring you can put it in sunny places as long as the solar impact is not direct in the strongest hours of the sun.

If you are thinking about which plants to put inside and / or outside of your house.


The amount of fertilizer for the elephant foot plant should be low because its growth is slow. Therefore, if you fertilize it once a month in the warmer months it will be enough and in the cold months it is best not to fertilize it, unless you decide to change it pot for some reason, thus you will improve its substrate.


Another vital aspect of caring for the elephant foot plant is the temperature that its environment must have. Among the main reasons for growing nolina indoors is the cold, as it is one of the great dangers for this plant, since it has a tropical origin and needs to be kept in warm or somewhat high temperatures.

The elephant foot plant does not withstand temperatures below 10 o C. In fact, its most optimal environmental range is between 18 oC and 26 or C. Try to always keep it at these temperatures so that its condition is not affected by the weather.


The pruning elephant paw plant is usually done to guide their growth or to limit it, but consists of a basic maintenance. You have to remove the damaged leaves and they are drying naturally. Follow these tips in case you need to prune the nolina plant, for any reason, such as space or disease, or for simple maintenance and cleaning of the leaves.

  • Disinfect your pruning shears before and after using them.
  • Remove dead leaves and cut off the tips of those that have turned brown. Also eliminate those that you see with rot or with pests that are difficult to remove.

How to fertilize the elephant foot plant

The best fertilizer for this plant is the granulated and slow release. You should fertilize it twice a year: once in early spring and once when summer begins. Also, nitrogen levels have to be very low.

As discussed above, the elephant foot is a slow growing plant. Do not try to accelerate its development by applying more fertilizer than it needs. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning the tips of the leaves. Also, remember that fertilizer is applied to give the plant more strength during growth or to help it recover from disease.

Pests and diseases of the elephant foot plant

To know everything about how to care for a nolina or elephant foot plant, it is also essential to delve into the most common pests and diseases that it suffers and what are the most effective treatments:

Pests of the elephant foot plant

The main pest that threatens nolina is that of mealybugs, particularly the cottony and grooved mealybug. They are insects that are located on the stem and the tender and new areas of the plant.

To get rid of mealy bugs, use a household sprayer in which you have mixed water with laundry soap, potassium soap, or hydrogen peroxide. Apply every 3 days an approximate dose of 2 ml per liter of water on the plant. Here you can read more about How to eliminate the cottony mealybug.

Common diseases

An excess of humidity on the plant can cause the appearance of fungi and, consequently, it may have a more serious disease or plague when it is weakened. In addition, an abuse of irrigation causes rotting of the stem and the roots of the plant, mainly, by fungi such as Phytophthora.

To treat these conditions, apply a fungicide to the plant and reduce watering until the problem subsides. In this other post you can learn how to make a homemade fungicide. You can also avoid fungi by having good irrigation control.

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