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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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/
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has supplemented her formal education by working on various organic farms, including spending a semester abroad in India.
Growing and/or raising just about anything gets her excited. She is especially passionate about environmental justice and low-tech, sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms and homesteads. Lindsey started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics.