How To Care for Your Ponytail Palm  - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

How To Care for Your Ponytail Palm 

Are you an ardent home gardener looking to widen your collection of green friends? Well, a ponytail palm must be your next pick. It’s alluring, holding the most attractive appearance with a sleek bulb-like trunk that stems into lush long leaves. True to its name, the leaves stunningly fall like a pretty ponytail.  It’s no surprise that the plant is widely adapted as a natural indoor and outdoor accent.

However, what does come as a surprise is that the plant is not a palm! It’s a succulent that derives its name owing to the trunk and flared leaves that curl from the top. Caring and maintaining a ponytail palm is easier than you think. Following a few simple care-tips will quickly turn it into a focal point of your home or garden.  

How to Care for your Ponytail Palm

Growing a healthy plant demands a combination of good care practices. From giving it appropriate lighting and soil, to choosing the right fertilizers, here’s what you should know.  

Friendly Note: The ponytail palm comes clean on the toxicity level. This makes it a safe addition to your home if you have pets or young kids.  

Soil and Potting Requirements 

Transplanting Nolin into new soil. Close-up on Nolin.
Image credits: Marvelous World via Shutterstock

A fast-draining soil is the right mix for ponytail palms. Purchase or create a succulent potting mix for a healthy growing plant. If you wish to get your hands dirty by making your own planting mixture, simply combine equal parts potting soil, sand and perlite. The potting container must have holes at the base for smooth water drainage.  

Pro Tip –Try to house the ponytail palm in a clay pot. Clay has porous characteristics and helps quickly absorb the moisture from the soil. This environment reduces the risk of water retention.  


The Beaucarnea Recurvata, also known as Ponytail Palm, or Nolina is a houseplant with a swollen thick brown stem and the long narrow curly, green leaves flow up from this base.
Image credits: Renata.Ka via Shutterstock

Ponytail palms love themselves a good dose of bright light. The desert plants love full sun and thrive under well-lit conditions. If grown as an indoor plant, place your ponytail palm in the brightest spot that receives 6 hours of sunlight peer day. Maybe this is near a large kitchen window or one in the living room receives direct or indirect sunlight 

Let your plants soak in the bright sunny days by placing them outdoors during summer. However, gradually introduce them to direct outdoor light as they can get sunburnt.  

Watering the Ponytail Palm 

Crop anonymous male gardener spraying lush ponytail palm with water placed on wooden table on terrace on sunny day in summer
Image credits: enadan via Shutterstock

It is absolutely crucial to adapt to the correct watering needs of the ponytail palm. As you know, the plant has a bulb-like structure that forms at the bottom of its stem. The formation acts like the plant’s water storehouse and it is essentially why you must never overwater a ponytail palm.

When in a natural environment, the plant receives generous watering through rainfall during the summer season. It remains dry during winter and derives its moisture from the stem. Ensure that you mimic a similar condition for your potted ponytail palm.

Water the plant deeply in intervals and let the plant dry out between watering schedules. During winter, cut back on watering to once a month to avoid the risk of rotting roots. Ponytail palms that are grown in the yard rarely demand water during period of regular rain. If you notice a dry climate for an extended period, deeply water the plant every once in two weeks.  

Keep an eye out for possibilities of overwatering. The plant indicates excessive moisture in the form of yellowing leaves and a soft caudex – the base of the plant and stem.  

Pruning Ponytail Palms 

Close up of ponytail palm in the plant pot.
Image credits: miracle8life via Shutterstock

Ponytail palms have to be regularly trimmed to ensure that they look and grow healthy. Typically, the leaf tips tend to become dry and brown especially when grown indoors. The condition can be caused by reasons that are not limited to inappropriate watering, excess fertilization, insufficient light, or salts in the soil. Trim off the dead parts of the plant to maintain healthy plant tissue and an attractive appearance.  

Gardening Bonus! You may be lucky to enjoy a beautiful sight as the plant may flower two or three times in a year. The beautiful cream-hued flowers are indeed a sight to behold. 

Repotting and Fertilization 

Ponytail palm, Beaucarnea recurvata or Elephant's foot root bound plant
Image credits: Bilalstock via Shutterstock

Depending on how big you would like your plant, you must periodically repot it into a larger container. The succulent grows bigger when offered more space in a larger container. Repot it every year leaving at least an inch of space between the plant’s stem and pot’s rim. You can choose to keep the ponytail palm in a smaller container if you feel like the increasing weight is difficult to manage. Also, the leaves tend to have prickly edges and can hurt your fingers – Be cautious.  

Fertilization is straightforward. Nourish the plant with a succulent or cacti fertilizer during their growing period. An all-purpose fertilizer will also do.

Proper Care In The Palm Of Your Hand

The ponytail palm is one fine natural element to add to your spaces. Easy to maintain, the plant can quickly turn around the visual appeal of any dull corner. Gardener’s bet, won’t be long before your home-visitors go gaga about your unique choice in plants. 

Do you have some more thoughts and tips on how to help the ponytail palm thrive? Let us know in the comments below.