Top Tips To Fix a Brown Ponytail Palm

What Is a Ponytail Palm 

A ponytail palm is a decorative house plant that falls between a regular tree and a palm. This plant requires a lot of special care. This care prevents issues like ponytail palm brown tips. The ponytail palm is also a succulent plant belonging to the Agave family. 

This house plant falls under the scientific classification of Beaucarnea recurvata or the Nolina recurvata. Other people call this plant elephant foot or bottle palm tree. 

outdoor ponytail palm

Why Are the Tips of My Ponytail Palm Turning Brown

The tips of your ponytail palm may begin to change their color to brown for several reasons. When these tips turn brown, they usually try to indicate that the whole ponytail palm plant is going through some kind of stress. 

The factors that cause brown tips on ponytail palm include:

  1. Humidity
  2. Overwatering 
  3. Underwatering
  4. Too much fertilizer
  5. Lack of enough light
  6. Pests


The ponytail palm plant does not need a lot of humidity. In all weather conditions and different seasons, including winter, ponytail palm requires only 40% humidity. This percentage is the average rate in terms of indoor humidity requirements. 

When conditions around your ponytail palm are too humid, infections such as crown and root rot will occur. When the diseases come, the tips on the leaves will begin turning brown. This scenario will act as a signal to you. For this reason, you should always be on the lookout for humidity changes. 

You can control this situation by adding less water during winter and more water in the summer. When managing the water for your ponytail palm, make sure you follow the correct schedule. 


The ponytail palm watering process is very crucial. If you overwater your ponytail palm, it will result in ponytail palm root rot. This result will come because the roots of this plant have an adaptation of distributing only enough water to the whole plant. One sign of root rot on a ponytail palm is brown tips on the leaves. 

So when you notice brown tips on the leaves of your ponytail palm, check if you have been overwatering it. If you have been doing so, let the soil dry out naturally. 


The ponytail palm plant should not get too much water, but it has to be just enough. You always have to give it the correct quantity. In case there is less water circulating in the plant, the leaves will begin to become crispy with ponytail brown tips. 

Ponytail palms have an excellent drought tolerance level. This plant can store some amount of water to a certain extent. So if the tips turn brown, know that even the water in storage is all gone. Between every watering period, remember to allow the soil to dry up. 

Too Much Fertilizer

This plant does not take in too much. Just as you should not overwater them, you should not give them a lot of fertilizer as well— excess fertilizer results in excessive nutrients to the plant. Once there is the presence of excess nutrients in the ponytail palm, there will be the availability of too much salt accumulating. 

The presence of excess salt leads to the tips of the leaves turning brown. Remember to add fertilizer to your ponytail palm during summer and spring only. The natural growth of these plants slows down during winter. So if you add fertilizer during this season, it may accumulate and become excess. 

Lack of Enough Light

Light is an essential part of every plant’s growth. The ponytail palm is also on the list when it comes to this fact. Many people believe that the ponytail palm is an indoor plant because it can survive without lots of light. 

That statement is true since the ponytail palm can use nutrients in its reserves. The only disadvantage is that once the reserves end, the tips of its leaves will begin to turn brown. This indicates the incapability of the plant to manufacture food due to a lack of light. 

Once you notice this happening, take your ponytail palm to another spot. Make sure that the place you choose receives enough light. You may even take it outside for quick recovery. 


Pests are also the leading cause of brown tips on ponytail leaves. Most of these pests are usually sap-sucking insects. The most common sap-sucking pest that attacks this plant is the MealyBug. 

Once these pests suck out large amounts of water, the plant will completely dehydrate, and its leaves will turn brown on the tips. Once mealybugs attack a ponytail palm, you may confuse them for a fungus infection. 

The confusion may occur since these pests usually join and move together in one large group. If you do not get rid of these pests quickly, they may kill your ponytail palm. The negative results will turn from brown leaf tips to yellow palm fronds. The yellow fonds will be a sign of complete dehydration of the plant. 

You can kill these pests by using several pesticides. Always make sure that these pesticides contain pyrethrin. Another option is using neem oil. Both of these methods work the same way in eliminating pests. 

Ponytail Palm Care

Providing ponytail palm care indoors is not that difficult. Ponytail palm care outdoors is also quite the same. There are several areas to look out for to take proper care of your ponytail palm. These areas cover different stages of your ponytail palm growth. These stages are:

  1. Planting 
  2. Growing
  3. Disease and pest control


  • You need to use soil that drains up quickly. You can make desert soil by yourself. You can achieve these results by mixing potting soil, sand, and perlite soil. 
  • Use a pot with holes in the bottom. The holes at the bottom help in removing excess water after watering. This will benefit the plant since ponytails do not like too much water.
  • The use of a porous pot is a good option. It helps in drying out the soil faster after each watering. It absorbs excessive water. 


  • Light is an essential part of a ponytail’s wellness. Choose a spot that brings in enough sunlight during the day. The ponytail palm sunlight should not be direct since it may harm the plant. Enough brightness will just work right. 
  • Always allow excess water to flow out through the bottom of the pot. For several minutes the pot should sit on a dish. This dish will be responsible for taking in the water from the pot. 
  • The soil that you use to grow a ponytail should be somehow dry. When watering the ponytail palm, always allow the top section of the soil of around 2 inches (5 centimeters) to completely dry. You should always make sure you perform this action before every rewatering session. When winter comes, water the ponytail only once after a while. When the season changes from winter to spring through fall, you may now water the plant more often. 
  • You should add in some fertilizer only during spring. Only use a succulent or cacti fertilizer when adding fertilizer to the ponytail palm. If you do this action correctly, your room will have a brighter appearance from the ponytail once summer knocks in. 
  • Once winter comes, never let the ponytail palm stay too close to the cold. This fact explains that you should not place your ponytail palm near the door or windows during this season. A freezing temperature is an enemy of the ponytail palm. If you place your plant near the windows during this cold season, the plant may not survive for long. 
  • Another important tip for ponytail palm as it grows is to keep it at room temperature. This fact explains that your plant will be able to do well during most parts of the year. You should still remember to maintain the plant’s coolness during this time. 
  • Another important ponytail palm care aspect to look at is re-poting. One unique feature of this plant is that it grows bigger depending on the size of the pot that it’s in. For this reason, ponytail palm pot size matters. You should re-pot the ponytail palm at least once every year. 
  • During ponytail palm re-poting, always select a bigger pot than the one it was previously growing in. A bigger pot will give the plant more room to grow further. 

Disease and Pest Control

For your ponytail palm to grow healthy and brighten your house nicely, you need to be aware of some ponytail palm problems. The most common issues are pests and diseases.

Stem rot is a common disease that usually attacks the ponytail palm. Leaves turning yellow is one of the signs of stem rot. To prevent stem rot of your ponytail palm, avoid watering it so much. 

The most common pest prone to attacking the ponytail palm is the spider mite. If you spot some kind of webbing throughout the plant, know that spider mites are around. You can get rid of these spider mites by using soap, water, and a cloth. Apply the soap and water to the fabric and softly rub the stems of your ponytail palm. 

Ponytail Palm Houseplant

Common Ponytail Palm Care Problems

Taking care of your ponytail palm helps keep it in proper shape. Sometimes, trying to keep this plant in good condition may lead to other problems. The most common ponytail palm care problems are:

  1. Transplant shock
  2. Curly leaves

Transplant Shock

You already know that you need to transplant your ponytail palm after every year for it to grow bigger. It is a good move, but it can negatively affect your ponytail palm. Several physical signs may signify transplant shock in a ponytail palm. The most common signs include: 

  • Yellowing of the leaves 
  • Stunted growth 
  • Wilting

In short, the signs that indicate transplant shock in a ponytail palm are the same as underwatering signs. There is a way in which you can prevent transplant shock. You can soak the ponytail palm properly for about 24 hours before the transplant. During this time, make sure that you do not tinker with the roots. 

Curly Leaves

During winter, you cannot give water to the ponytail palm. It is a protective action but can turn lethal to the plant sometimes. If the water in the plant reduces while it’s already winter, the leaves will begin to curl. 

The lack of enough water during winter will result from too much sunlight due to direct rays. During winter, your plant needs just a little of this light to preserve its natural water for some time. 

You can prevent curly leaves in your ponytail palm by placing them away from direct sunlight during winter. Only allow in minimal sunlight and at different intervals if it’s possible. 

How To Grow Multiple trunks on a Ponytail Palm

You need to know how to do it correctly when you want to increase the number of trunks on a ponytail palm. This knowledge will help you avoid damaging the whole plant during the process. There are two main ways to follow to achieve the best results. 

These ways are:

  1. Cutting the stem.
  2. Waiting for the flowering of the plant.

Cutting The Stem

Baby plants usually begin to reproduce on the base once you cut the stem. To correctly cut the branch, you need to follow the steps below:

  • Make proper preparations for the ponytail palm.
  • Protect your hands by wearing special gloves. 
  • Using a sharp, sterile knife, cut the tip together with the stem.
  • Give the ponytail plant all the care it should get until new trunks form.

After several weeks, you will begin seeing fresh little stems coming up. From the soil level, you will also spot some trunks emerging. You should not perform this action on a much older plant. If you do this procedure to it, the plant will die due to shock. 

Waiting for Flowering of the Plant

Immediately after the ponytail plants flowers, the stem naturally bifurcates. This option comes in handy if you do not want to hurt your plant by cutting it. The flowering option works so well for mostly ponytail palm plants outside. 

If you choose this option, you have to be very patient. The flowering of the ponytail palm can take several years. So if your plant has old age, you can choose to be patient. The oldness of the ponytail palm means closeness to its flowering season. 

For the above reasons, this option proves to be the best for old ponytail palms. The process will take some time, but it will be safer. 

Is a Ponytail Palm Pet Safe?

The Ponytail palm is very safe for every pet in your house or compound. This plant does not contain any toxic substance that may harm your pets. So in case your dog or cat loves to play in the house, you can now be confident of their health safety. 

Is a Ponytail Palm Toxic to Humans or Pets?

This plant is not toxic to other living things in any way. The ponytail palm does not contain any harmful toxic substances inside. For this reason, you should not be worried about even their sap in case it oozes a little. 

How to Prune a Ponytail Palm

How to prune ponytail palm requires no special skills. It is good if you prune your ponytail palm during the growing period. This fact does not block you from pruning any other time of the year in case you wish to. Trim the leaves on the plant’s top section using sharp shears. Non-sharp shears can cause pressure on the plant and thus slower healing after pruning. 

During pruning, lookout for leaves that have gone through wilting. Cut all these leaves to give space for new ones. While pruning, always take breaks in between to check the plant. Such a move will help you be sure that you are doing the correct thing. After you finish pruning, apply some pruning paint to increase the healing process of your ponytail palm. 

Ponytail Palms

The Final Say

Ponytail palm plants make fantastic decorations for indoor and outdoor environments as well. Ponytail brown palm tips should not stop this decorative plant from achieving its purpose. From the information in this article, you can now prevent ponytail brown palm tips. If your plant already has the issue, this article gives you the knowledge you need to heal it. 

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