ponytail palm

7 Tips on How to Care for Your Ponytail Palm (Infographic)

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) are large plants with striking, lush, cascading leaves. The leaves look like a ponytail (hence the name)! 

Ponytail Palm is a low maintenance, drought resistant plant. It is semi-succulent so it will do well in full indirect sunlight. Ponytail Palm does not need to be watered everyday so it’s really easy to take care of. Here are tips on how to care for your Ponytail Palm.

Ponytail Palm Infographic

Ponytail Palm Infograph
Ponytail Palm Infograph

7 Tips on How to Care for Your Ponytail Palm

1. Your Ponytail Palm is Happiest in Bright Indirect Light 

Ponytail Palm prefers sunny locations. Your Ponytail Palm will thrive in a south facing window or a west facing window. It’s a succulent that needs bright indirect light. 

2. Light Watering is Best for Ponytail Palm

Ponytail Palm is a semi-succulent so you should err on the side of less water than too much water. It is happy in dry soil. Wet soil will kill it. Only water your Ponytail Palm when the soil feels dry. Water sparingly when it’s winter.

Ponytail Palm Ponytail Palm will need to be watered only when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it’s time to water your Ponytail Palm is by sticking a finger into the soil 2 inch deep. If the soil feels dry, then it’s time to water your Ponytail Palm. If the soil feels moist and wet, don’t water your Ponytail Palm. Wait another week, check the soil’s moisture level with your finger before watering.

3. Plant Your Ponytail Palm in a Fast Draining Potting Mix

Ponytail Palm needs a fast draining potting mix. Use premixed potting soil specially formulated for succulents. They usually have mycorrhizal fungi and other beneficial microbes. Only buy organic soil mix because the fertilizer is not as concentrated in organic soil mixtures. Non-organic soil should only be used for outdoor plants.

You can make your own potting mix for your Ponytail Palm by blending the following potting media: 

  • 1 Part Horticultural Sand
  • 1 Part General Purpose Organic Potting Medium
  • 1 Part Perlite

4. Fertilize Your Ponytail Palm

Ponytail Palm will need a once a month application of fertilizer. Don’t fertilize in the Fall and Winter when Ponytail Palm is dormant and not growing. Only fertilize your Ponytail Palm when it’s actively growing.

5. Don’t forget to Repot Your Ponytail Palm

Repot your Ponytail Palm when the trunk of the plant looks like it is almost outgrowing the pot. Ponytail Palm is almost outgrowing its current pot when it is within 2 inches from the edge of the pot. Repot it in a larger pot, around 4 inches larger (diameter) than the current pot.

You will probably have to repot your Ponytail Palm every 2 to 3 years. Make sure you buy a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom so water doesn’t accumulate and cause root rot and stem rot.

6. Drainage is Essential for Ponytail Palm

After watering your Ponytail Palm Plant and you see water draining out of the pot’s drainage holes, make sure you empty out the accumulated water in the saucer. Don’t let your Ponytail Palm’s pot sit in this puddle of water. It will cause root rot! 

7. Get the Temperature Right for Ponytail Palm

Your Ponytail Palm is a tropical plant. It needs to have daytime temperatures of 70F to 80 Fahrenheit (21-26C). Nighttime temperature should be at 60-70 Fahrenheit (15-21 C).

3 Common Ponytail Palm Problems 

Common problems that can affect your Ponytail Palm are spider mites, stem rot and brown tips on leaves.

1. The Stem of Your Ponytail Palm has Turned Brown and Mushy 

Problem: The stem of your Ponytail Palm has turned brown and mushy.

Cause: When the stem of your Ponytail Palm turns brown and mushy, this could be fungus causing the stem to rot. Stem rot is caused by overwatering or poor drainage. Stem Rot is a serious and often fatal problem.

Solution: You can try to save your plant by removing the infected parts of the plant. Move the plant out of the potting soil and throw away the old soil. Replant it in a new pot in new soil. Make sure you sterilize the tools that you use so you don’t contaminate the new pot and potting mix. 

However, chances of plant survival is slim once your plant is afflicted with stem rot. It’s best to start over with a new Ponytail Palm. This time learn from your mistake and don’t overwater your Ponytail Palm and make sure you have good drainage in the pot. 

2. Yellow and Brown Spots with Spider-Like Webs on Leaves and Stems

Problem: There are yellow and brown spots on the leaves of your Ponytail Palm. You also see spider web-like webbing on the leaves and stem.

spider mites
Spider Mites

Cause: The spider webbing and yellow and brown spots are signs of spider mites attacking your Ponytail Palm. Spider mites are tiny pests that are too small to see with your bare eyes.

Solution: To treat spider mites on your Ponytail Palm, spray off the leaves with water from a garden hose. The force will cause the little spider mites to wash off the leaves. You can also wash mites off with soapy water or rubbing alcohol. There are also horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps that you can use to kill off spider mites. 

Check out our article on how to make your own homemade pesticides using baby shampoo: How to Make Horticultural Oil and How to Make Insecticidal Soap

3. Tip of Leaves of Your Ponytail Palm are Turning Brown

Problem: The tips of leaves of your Ponytail Palm are turning brown.

Cause: When the tips of the leaves of Ponytail Palm are brown that is a result of not enough water or humidity. The tips of leaves are turning brown because they are dying.

Solution: Water your Ponytail Palm and increase humidity. Below are ways to prevent the tip of leaves of your Ponytail Palm Plant from turning brown.

1. Water Your Ponytail Palm Plant

Place your finger in the soil (1 inch deep) to check if it is dry. If the soil is dry, you should immediately water your Ponytail Palm plant. Give it enough water to the point that you see water trickling out of the drainage hole. Make sure you empty the saucer and don’t let your Ponytail Palm pot sit in a saucer filled with water. That will result in root rot.

2. It May Be Time to Repot Your Ponytail Palm

It’s also possible the pot is too small for your Ponytail Palm that is why it is not getting enough water. It may be time to repot your plant to a bigger pot.

3. Mist the Leaves of Ponytail Palm Plant

If low humidity is the problem, you can mist the Ponytail Palm plant leaves.

4. Turn on the Humidifier

The room may also be too dry for your Ponytail Palm plant, turn on a humidifier so the room is not overly dry.

Once your Ponytail Palm receives adequate humidity and water, the leaves will start to look healthy and green again. You do need to cut off the brown tips since they do not turn back to green.

Facts About Ponytail Palm 

NamePonytail Palm
Scientific NameBeaucarnea recurvata
LightFull Indirect Sun to Partial direct sun 
Daytime Temperature70 to 80 F (21-26C)
Night Time Temperature60 to 70 F (15-21C)
WaterLow Water
HumidityLow Humidity
PottingFast draining, organic potting soil (cactus soil or succulent soil)
FertilizerOnce a month but not in the Fall or Winter
Facts about Ponytail Palm

Ponytail Palm: Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Cold Water When Watering Your Ponytail Palm?

Ponytail Palm don’t like to be watered with cold water. Don’t use cold water straight from the tap. Make sure you mix a bit of hot water to take the chill off. You can also fill a bottle of water or pitcher with tap water, leave it out overnight so the water adjusts to room temperature.

What Fertilizer Should You Use for Your Ponytail Palm?

Use organic fertilizer with a higher ratio of nitrogen. You can use fertilizers that are in powder or liquid form.

How Big Does Ponytail Palm Get?

Ponytail Palm can be large plants that can grow to 8 feet tall. Although, it usually gets to around 4 feet tall depending on the pot size. Ponytail Palm is a heavy plant though so it will be difficult to move around once it gets large. You may want to plant it in a pot with casters or wheels.

How Do You Propagate Your Ponytail Palm?

Ponytail Palm is propagated by seed. However, when planted as an indoor houseplant, it will not bloom and produce seeds. You will have to buy Ponytail Palm seeds from a specialty garden center.

Are Ponytail Palms Toxic to Pets?

Ponytail Palms are not toxic to pets but cats like to snack on the leaves so it’s best to keep the leaves out of reach. 

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