View Full Version : Dying Ponytail palm

03-26-2011, 06:39 PM
Hello there, Does anyone have much experience with Ponytail palms? (or Elephant foot, Beaucarnea Recurvata). I did a search for 'Ponytail' but nothing on this forum. So here goes. I have two Ponytails in huge pots indoors, both under a skylight. One is old (10+ yrs) but is absolutely thriving. The other one however is only about 3 years old and was going well until about 3 months ago, when i noticed it just wasn't living or dying, just doing nothing. Then last month it has been going a pale green and losing its 'leaves'. I decided to take it outside and plant it in the garden in a semi shade spot. However its condition was soon explained as i tipped the pot on its side -half of the head broke off, to reveal that about 1/4 of the stem was rotten. I have had this before with this type of plant, although not with this species.

Can anyone say what causes this rot? And what i should do now once it is in the garden? Of course i have cut the whole head off now, but how much of the trunk should i cut down to? Just until it isn't rotten, or a certain height above the bowl? I don't expect it to live. Maybe some Seasol and then not too much water? I really don't know.

One thing i noticed which wouldn't have been helping things was that the soil in the pot, although incredibly rich and black, was very compacted and the two small drain holes on the bottom of the huge pot (with soil it weighs about 120Kg) seemed to be choked up with mud. Maybe the poor plant drowned, or couldn't breath?

Thanks for reading and i hope someone knows what i am talking about with this plant

03-27-2011, 01:34 PM
before I even completed reading your entire post, my thoght was idadequate drainage...then, I read that the one ailing had compacted soil...
That is indeed your problem, No garden soil, that I have ever found will work in a container, succesive waterings cause the soil to leech out, leaving behond the clay...
and even Our garden soil (organic content Over 5%) won't work in a pot...

A good organic based potting medium, a pot that drains well (for this plant a terra cotta pot may be the best bet) and you'll have great success...
the dying plant, although there is not a lot of hope for it...change the soil, dampen only slightly near the root zone...and Talk sweetly to it...

03-27-2011, 07:14 PM
Thanks for the reply Pharmerphil. Now that you have said that, i'll have to check the other Ponytail! It is in the same type of pot in the same position. But do you know much about this plant? Because in case it wants to live (and i'll start chatting nicely to it) how much of the trunk should i cut off... just until the rot has stopped, or further? If so, how much above the 'foot' or bowl?


03-30-2011, 04:07 PM
Well this IS disappointing, except for Pharmerphil, no-one else knows anything about Ponytail plants or could be bothered giving an opinion. Thanks Phil, but looks like off to another forum for me :(:confused: