Ponytail Palm Repotting: How And When To Repot Ponytail Palms

It is inevitable to swap your current plants out of their pots especially after a few years. Read on to learn when and how to repot your ponytail palms!

Ponytail palms are so easy to take care of that’s why it’s almost always in every household or garden. When it comes to transplanting or repotting them, it is quite a breeze too especially if they are not too big.

However, it might be a challenge if you have a ponytail palm that is originally grown outside then you want to transfer them in a pot.

When grown outdoors, ponytail palms can grow as much as 15 to 20 feet. When in pots indoors, you’re safe with about 1 to 8 feet tall. Sometimes it just really depends on how you grow them.

As you know, the ponytail palm or Beaucarnea recurvata has a bulbous base and slender stem with a cluster of long and straight leaves on top.

It thrives indoors with not much care or watering since it stores water in its bulb. They can live in the same pot for years or even decades.

If that’s the case, when should you repot your ponytail palm plants?

Read Next: How To Propagate Ponytail Palm

Ponytail Palm Repotting_ How And When To Repot Ponytail Palms (1)

When should you repot a ponytail palm?

The very same bulbous base, also known as caudex, can enlarge too much that sometimes it breaks the pot.

Obviously, you need to transfer your plant to a new container. If you notice beforehand that your plant’s base is getting bigger, don’t wait for the pot to crack and transplant it immediately.

When Should You Repot A Ponytail Palm

In addition to this, your plant can show signs of distress such as dull and lifeless leaves. That might be because they’re not getting the nutrients that they need in their current soil.

You can transfer them in a new pot with a different mix of soil. It might also mean that the pot that they’re in is also too small.

Other obvious signs are roots sticking out through the drain hole if your container has a few. You can also find matted roots close to the surface of the soil.

when should you repot your ponytail palm plants

Try slipping the plant from its pot, if you can see significantly more roots than soil then you better be ready to repot your plant.

Although it is also nice to let them thrive in new soil, some ponytail palms are fine without repotting them for years so you don’t have to worry too much about when you should transfer them. If it seems like it doesn’t have any problems, just leave them be.

On the other hand, the growth of your ponytail palm will significantly slow down if they are kept in the same container for such an extended amount of time.

If you wish to let them grow faster or bigger, you should transplant them in a bigger pot.

The best time to move them to a new pot is in early spring or in early summer. During this time, your plants are in its prime to develop a new set of roots right before winter

How to repot a ponytail palm plant? 

First, you will need a pruning saw, a big serrated knife or any flat instrument and a pot that is 1 to 2 inches bigger than the current one where you’re ponytail palm is planted. Make sure that your pot has a drainage hole.

You can tie up the foliage like a ponytail if they are too long and in the way as you prepare to dig around the plant.

Ponytail Palms can be such a nice addition to your houseplants, recreational area, or outdoor garden. If you want to expand your collection, read on to find more about ponytail palm propagation. Believe it or not, ponytail palms are not true palms at all. Although it certainly looks like a palm tree, this majestic plant is actually a succulent. Typically, ponytail palms have a big, greyish, dome-like stump or base that looks a bit like an elephant’s foot, hence, its other common name “elephant foot trees.” From the base, it raises a thinner stem where a thick leaf crown forms. You’ve probably noticed that ponytail palms are popular as houseplants. It’s because they really easy to maintain and have a long life. However, they can be planted on the ground outside too. Before learning how to propagate them, here are some quick facts about ponytail palms. Scientific Name: Beaucarnea recurvata Common Names: Ponytail Plant, Elephant Foot, Bottle Palm, Ponytail Palm Tree Height: 80 to 150 cm when grown indoors but can reach up to 30 feet outdoors Native in: South America, primarily Mexico USDA Hardiness Zone: 9a to 11b Growth: Very Slow Life Expectancy: Can last up to 100 years Light Needs: Full Sun to Filtered Light Water Needs: Drench, Infrequent Watering, Let Dry, Humidity: Average, Low Humidity Temperature: Cool, 20 degrees F (-6.7 °C) to 45 degrees F (+7.2 °C) How to Propagate Ponytail Palms There are only a few known ways to propagate ponytail palms, namely through seeds and cuttings. Although there are not many methods to multiply your ponytail palms, these ways are easy to accomplish and will reward you of a new long-living plant. Propagating Ponytail Palms through cuttings Basically, this method is making use of the pups that your main ponytail palm has. What are these pups? Well, as your palms mature, they make side shoots or pups from the base of the plant. It is your plant’s way of propagating itself. These little versions of your ponytail palm or elephant’s foot are totally effortless to splice away from the mother plant, they are also great as cuttings. You can just break the side shoots right from the stem. However, if you want to make cleaner cuts, make sure your knife, pruners, saw, or trimming shears are sharp and clean. You can also apply a little rooting hormone on the stem if you want. It’s up to you if you want to get one or more shoots from the stem. When you make a cut, make sure to leave at least 2 or more inches of stem above the bulbous base. Don’t worry since new heads will grow just below the area where you make the cut. However, you must be patient because it could take a while for them to appear. Next, you should have a potting soil with a good drainage system ready. Personally, I use a combination of sand and peat but you can also use a cultivation soil. Plant the cutting about a third of its total length into the medium. If needed, compress the soil around the shoot to keep it upright. Irrigate with a bit of water just to moisten it. Make a warm and humid surrounding by placing a transparent cover over the newly planted shoot. You can also use a plastic bag that is supported with two wooden sticks so that it won’t make any contact with the leaves. Place the pot in the area where it is partly shaded, or in a place with moderate light. A warm window sill is perfect. Make sure to check your plant from time to time to keep the soil a bit wet and to let the air out of the cover. You can remove the cover once there are new buds that are starting to appear. Keep on watering it regularly but be careful on overwatering. If you notice that your new ponytail palm has grown new roots all over the pot, you now place it in a planting bowl or new pot. Continue caring for your new plant the same way as the mature ones. Propagating Ponytail Palms using seeds Indoor ponytail palms rarely bloom, and if they don't bloom, there's no way that you'll get seeds. One option is just buying seeds. However, note that propagating using seeds has a lower success rate compared to using cuttings or shoots. On average, only one new ponytail palm can fully grow out of five seeds. Now, if you already have the seeds, I’ll share two ways that you can propagate them; you can use paper towels first or directly on cultivation soil. Method 1 : For the first method, place them over two layers of paper towels. Moisten the paper towels until they are slightly damp. Put another layer of damp paper towel over the seeds. Put the paper towel in a cool and dry area with no sunlight, heat, or wind. Check the towels from time to time and make sure that they are still moist and not drying out. After that, you just need to wait for the seeds to germinate for about two weeks. Once the sprouts start appearing, take the seedlings out carefully as well as the fallen seed hulls using tweezers. Be extra careful since these little babies are fragile. Place them on seedling trays. Using seedling mix, cover the seedlings until only the top leaves are out. Put the seedling tray in a place where it can be subjected with direct sunlight for two to three hours. If your fragile seedlings get too much light, they’ll dry out and die. Be careful in watering them too so that the seedling mix that covers the seedling won’t wash away. When the seeds sprout for about two inches high, move the seedling with the soil around it onto a fresh pot with potting soil. Position the pots in an area where it can get direct sunlight; water the new plant two times a day. You can also opt to plant them in an outdoor garden or just on the ground if they are bigger than the pot. Method 2: This is basically the same as the method above. The only difference is that you’re using a cultivation soil in a pot. Simply press the seedlings down, about four to five centimeters apart from each other on the soil. Use a plastic bag to cover the pot. You can also place the pot in a greenhouse. The ideal temperature around the germinating seeds is about 73-77 degrees F. Gently but regularly water them. With the perfect conditions, it can take a few weeks or months for the seeds to germinate. Only move them to another pot (or again, on the ground) once the leaves start sprouting. If placed on the pot, position it on a partly shaded window sill; do not crowd the seedlings. Obviously, more will opt to propagate with the ponytail palm shoots. One final tip is to do it in spring when the plant is in prime. Good luck!

Run the pruning saw or the tool that you have around the inside of the pot to loosen the root ball. Pull the plant gently from the soil.   

Once the plant is pulled out of its container, inspect and take a close look at the roots of your ponytail palm.

Examine for any signs of bug infestation, damaged areas, or any part that looks damaged or contaminated. Trim out these parts as well as big and old roots.

How To Repot A Ponytail Palm

With a garden fork or just your fingers, slacken the compacted roots on the root ball. This will promote better plant growth in the new soil.

You can also put a rooting hormone on the left roots if you want but it isn't necessary.

What Type Of Soil Is Best For Ponytail Palm?

Now, let’s talk about the soil. Ponytail palms prefer to stay dry, thus, you need soil that drains quickly. It is suggested to use soil that is made for succulents and cactus.

Personally, I use a combination of ½ of organic potting soil plus ½ a mix of sand, perlite, shredded bark, and vermiculite. You can make your own mix but make sure that you go easy on the amount of peat

How To Propagate Ponytail Palm From Cuttings And Seeds

Place the extracted plant in the middle of a new pot then fill it with your mix of soil. Make sure that the root ball is one inch or over the rim of the pot.

Avoid letting the bulb of your plant sink lower than the soil line. Pat the soil around the plant but do not firm it tightly.

How Often To Water ponytail palm After Repotting?

Once the plant is properly settled, water the soil thoroughly. Avoid watering it again until at least several inches deep of the soil are dry. 

As a general rule, water your ponytail palm plant once every seven to ten days during hotter months. Minimize watering to once every 20-30 days during colder months.

Do You Need To Fertilize Right After Repotting?

Ponytail palms don’t really require fertilizers. However, if you wish to use one, apply it after at least 4 weeks.

Why? Your newly transplanted ponytail palm has looser soil. The soil will let in too much fertilizer in the roots and this might cause burning. As an alternative, you can just add worm castings to the potting mix.

Light Requirements After Repotting

Light Requirements After Repotting

Finally, place your newly transplanted ponytail palm in the same location where they can fully thrive.

Ponytail palms prefer light since naturally, they are used to arid deserts where they are exposed to the sun.

Your plants are highly adaptable too so they wouldn’t mind being placed in an area where there’s little to moderate light.

They are perfect on window sills too! As for my plants, I make sure that they get about five to six hours of direct sunlight daily.

Image Credit: https://garden.org/users/profile/Frenchy21/

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