Is my ponytail palm dying and how can I save it? I have had it a few years now. Used to have lots of leaves but for the past year or so the leaves have all wilted and most recently started browning very fast. Also recently the leaves all bent over right at the top of the stalk. Any ideas why this bending happened? As for the browning, I try to cut it away but as you can see it quickly becomes brown again.

Recently I noticed its roots were growing out of the soil so repotted it, added soil, and noticed the soil stayed moist so I took it out of the new pot and let it dry then put it back and have not watered since. I heard this can be traumatic for it, but it was already looking bad like this beforehand. I’m hoping if I just leave it alone for several weeks it’ll slowly revive itself.

I live in the south where it is hot and humid. My house is usually around 77 degrees with 60% humidity. The plant does not get direct sunlight but it sits under a window without window coverings so it does get some light. I used to have it in a pitch dark room that hardly ever had blinds open and it was fine for years.

Please help!

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1 Answer 1


This is a high light plant, Beaucarnea recurvata, that has had too much water and not enough light. They are quite tough and might come back if you move it to high light and don't water for a few months.

The repotting does not help. This plant is happy to be pot bound and a roots on the surface is not a problem. Just top dress with a quarter inch of fresh potting soil and leave it be.

The only reason this plant lasted in darkness was that is used up it's stored energy. When that was exhausted it started downhill.

High, high light with extended periods between waterings.

  • Thank you! Great answer. Should I trim the brown tips? Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 17:24
  • Sure, just leave a tiny brown margin so you don't injure living tissue
    – kevinskio
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 23:55
  • Thanks so much! I hope it revives itself, and if so I’ll follow your advice on light and watering in the future. Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 0:44

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