Your Guide To: Ponytail Palm

Everything you need to know to care for this wonderfully funky plant.

If you’re looking for a showstopper to enliven your space, look no further than this tousled beauty. Just as its name suggests, ponytail palms feature a mane of curly leaves sprouting every which way from a bulbous stem—almost like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Because of their playful looks, ponytail palms make an arresting foil in otherwise clean-lined interiors. They can also inject a jungle vibe when displayed among other lush greenery. Try them as a focal point on a table, a fun pop on a bookshelf, a bit of color in the corner—or, really, anywhere you want a wild touch of nature in your sights.

How To Keep A Ponytail Palm Plant Happy

While they have an air of the exotic, ponytail palms don’t actually need much to grow indoors. Perhaps that’s because they’re not actually palms, but succulents! Native to southeastern Mexico, these desert dwellers can reportedly live for decades and grow up to 30 feet tall in arid conditions outdoors. Inside, their proportions stay much smaller—ponytail palms are notoriously slow growers.

How Much Lighting Does a Ponytail Palm Plant Need?

If given a choice, ponytail palms opt for bright, indirect light all day. They won’t hold a grudge if they get less than that, but they will slow their growth. A southern or eastern window exposure should supply all the rays they need. You can also add a grow lamp to help make up for any lack of natural light.

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How Do I know When To Water My Ponytail Palm Plant?

Think of your ponytail palm like a cactus—that’s how much water it needs. Which is to say, not much. That bulbous trunk conveniently stores H2O, so your plant can go about 2 weeks between waterings; a plant moisture indicator can help figure out when it’s thirsty.

Your ponytail palm will arrive potted in its favorite well-draining soil, so all it needs is the saucer emptied of any excess water after a drink, and that should keep it happy.

How Do I Use Plant Food for My Ponytail Palm Plant?

As desert natives, ponytail palms are able to make do without a lot of fuss. Feed yours with 3 of the plant food spikes included in your delivery once monthly in the spring and summer and every other month in fall and winter. And that’ll be that.

What Is a Ponytail Palm Plant's Ideal Environment?

Ponytail palms like that desert vibe. The dry, warm air of most interiors (65° to 75° F) will suit it perfectly. But remember, they’re not big fans of humidity or drafts, so avoid putting one in the bathroom or next to an air vent.

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How Do I Prune and Maintain My Ponytail Palm Plant?

These plants thrive on what’s called “benign neglect.” Every week or 2, turn your ponytail palm so it gets an even amount of light on all sides. (A plant trivet makes this easier, and saves your surfaces of any accidental scratching.)

From a maintenance perspective, there isn’t much more you need to do—just sit back and appreciate its singular aesthetic.

How to Address Common Ponytail Palm Plant Issues

If you’re under- or overwatering your ponytail palm, you may see some brown, dead leaf tips. And if you’re really overwatering it, the base of the plant will develop dark, shriveled areas that indicate it has stem rot.

Occasionally, spider mites may take up residence on a ponytail palm. You’ll see pale leaves with pinprick dots and a web-like material on the undersides. If you suspect you have this issue, you can use neem oil, insecticidal soap, or hot pepper spray to kill the mites.

What to Do If You Still Have Questions

We want your plant to thrive, so if it isn’t, just let us know. You can chat live with a Greendigs representative on our website or send an email to [email protected] with questions or concerns.

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