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House Plants/Sick Ponytail Palm


yellow-brown new growth
yellow-brown new growt  
pic from tom
pic from tom  
QUESTION: I have a 10 year old ponytail palm that has had many issues over the years that I was able to correct, but this one has me worried.
Growing from the center of the NEW growth are yellow & brown shoots. at first I just thought it was some sort of critter living in it but as these shoots get taller they are looking worse. I really don't want to lose this tree I hope you can help.

ANSWER: Scott,

It appears to me that it may have been overwatered and not given enough sun through the winter. This plant likes to dry out and be dry for a week before being watered again. This is a succulent plant that needs to be grown like a cactus.

It may clear up by drying it out and increasing the amount of sun it gets daily.

However it may have also picked up a fungal infection from being stressed by the overwatering. To cure a fungal infection you need a fungicide to treat it. There is one that is easily applied and taken up through the roots of the plant. This fungicide is called Physan 20 Fungicide and is available on Amazon from Interior Gardens for $10.40 plus $6.49 for shipping.  It should resolve your problem. Good luck!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thank you for the great info. I will try both I have a second tree that gets the same treatment that is doing fine... a little puzzling. Is it ok to trim off the brown tips? I was told not to many years ago.


It is ok to trim off brown leaf tips and ok to remove lower leaves off the plants. It is not ok to remove brown leaves from the top of the plant that are still growing. If you start letting the plant be dry for a full week before watering it again you will stop seeing brown leaf tips on the new leaves. Think of this as a desert plant. Too much water hurts it. It has to be dry longer than it is wet each year and it has to be sunny. It grows in the Mexican desert as a wild plant outdoors in full sun and gets very little rain. Good luck!


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Darlene K. Kittle


I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.


I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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