How to Care For The Ponytail Palm

Ponytail Palm 

Ponytail Palms are one of the most resilient plants we offer. Being native to warm, dry, desert-like areas of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala makes them drought-tolerant and great for beginner plant parents, those who travel or who can just be forgetful. While they’re not true palms, in their natural climates they can grow up to 10 feet tall and bloom creamy white flowers once they’re mature. These stages of growth are not common indoors, but these plants are low-maintenance nonetheless. 


Light

Ponytail Palms do best in bright light and even in full sun. In warm, dry climates they can gradually transition outdoors during early Spring through late Summer and should return indoors for the Fall and Winter. 


Water

Ponytail Palms originate in desert-like areas, where they receive infrequent downpours in the Summer and little water in the Winter. During late Spring through late Summer, water your Ponytail thoroughly after the soil has fully dried about (about every 3-4 weeks, depending on your home). Water is stored in the trunk, which allows it to survive the Winter months when it should be watered even less. They are drought-tolerant and prone to overwatering. 


Air

Keep Ponytail Palms in warm, dry areas of your home and away from drafts. A South-facing window is ideal, while a humid room such as the bathroom or kitchen may not be dry enough. They prefer temperatures between 60-80° and can withstand cooler nighttime and Winter temperatures, as they would find in its natural climate. 


Potting & Soil

  • Soil and pot drainage are both important for the health of the Ponytail Palm. Clay and ceramic pots with drainage holes are best as their porous nature helps to absorb moisture and improves aeration. Your pot should be sturdy and deep enough to support the trunk and base of the plant. 
  • Move your Ponytail into a pot 2-3” larger in diameter and of similar depth if you want it to grow larger. After its initial repotting, it can go a few years without needing another, outside of refreshing the soil. 
  • Use a well-draining, cacti-succulent soil or make your own mixture using:
    • 50% All-Purpose Potting Soil
    • 25% Sand
    • 25% Perlite

Placement

Since Ponytails love the sun so much, being placed near a South-facing window of your home would offer it the most sunlight. Its size makes it perfect for a side table or at the top of a plant stand as it matures into a floor plant. Place it where you’d want a symbol of resilience and a reminder of our ability to adapt to life’s natural cycles.  


Propagation

Some healthy Ponytail Palms will sprout new growth called “pups”, mini-versions of themselves in the soil or on the main trunk. These pups can be carefully cut using a sharp, clean knife and placed in a soil medium to grow into a new plant. 


Using 50% All-Purpose Potting Soil, 25% Sand and 25% Perlite, place the cut end of the pup into moistened mixture. The cut end just needs to be covered, not buried. It may take root after 4 weeks, but is not always successful. 


Seasonal Care

During the warm months of Spring and Summer, water your Ponytail Palm infrequently and heavily, allowing water to drain out and the soil to dry fully before the next watering. This allows its trunk to store the water it will need for the Fall and Winter months when watering should become even less frequent and light in volume. Depending on your home climate, a general rule of thumb is to water about every 3-4 weeks in Spring and Summer, then reduce watering to about every other month, or less, in Fall and Winter. They will be happiest in an environment that can best mimic the cycles of the natural climate! 


Common Problems & Quirks

  • If the leaves are going dry and brown, your Ponytail Palm might: be receiving too much direct light, have underwatered soil or soil with salt build-up. 
  • If the leaves turn yellow, your Ponytail Palm might be overwatered.
  • If the trunk becomes soft or squishy, your Ponytail Palm might be overwatered.
  • Ponytail Palms are drought-resistant and vulnerable to root rot, so it’s better to lean towards underwatering than overwatering! 
  • The leaf edges can be sharp, but Ponytail Palms are otherwise safe and non-toxic for pets!
  • Leaves will produce curls as they grow longer.