Caring for a Ponytail Palm

By Heidi Green , last updated March 10, 2011

When properly cared for, ponytail palms make gorgeous houseplants. The base of these plants look like a small tree trunk, and the foliage grows outward in a beautiful burst that resembles—you guessed it—a ponytail. Native to the Mexico deserts, the ponytail palm requires different care than most other palms, as it's accustomed to drier environments. If you're interested in growing a ponytail palm in your home, follow these tips to keep your plant thriving.

Light Requirements

The ponytail palm needs as much bright sunlight as possible. Do not place it in an area where there is little sunlight, as the plant will quickly die. Five to seven hours of bright sun from a window should keep the plant healthy. To encourage even growth, turn your ponytail plant once a week to make sure all sides get enough sunlight. If necessary, purchase a small grow light for your ponytail palm.

Preferred Soil

Most palms prefer a peaty, nutrient-dense soil containing compost or manure, but not the ponytail palm. It grows best in sandy soil, which also helps maintain drainage. Though you shouldn't attempt to grow your ponytail in straight sand, a half and half mixture of potting soil and sand should do the trick. Make sure your plant's container has drainage holes, as it's very bad for the ponytail palm to sit in stagnant water.

Watering and Care

It's extremely important not to overwater your ponytail palm. Only water the plant when the first inch of soil is dry, and fertilize sparingly — once every three to four months should be fine. Though this plant is generally resistant to pests, it can be infected by spider mites or mealy bugs. If you notice bugs on your plant, you can spray them with a gentle solution of dish soap and tap water. This is usually enough to kill any existing populations.

Resources and References
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