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House Plants/Ponytail Palm disease


I have a ponytail plant I purchased 6 months ago and repotted it into another container. It did seemed happy for a few months but then the new growth would get brown spots.  I am watering it once a month. It is inside and gets indirect light.   I do not see any sign of bugs. It seems so sad. What am I doing wrong and how can I get it healthy again?

Hi Linda,

It is not a disease. You made the most common of all plant care mistakes - unnecessarily repotting. Ponytails must be kept very potbound so that the soil dries out quickly after each watering. Otherwise, the delicate roots start to rot. If it takes a month for the soil to dry deep into the pot, then that is not soon enough to prevent root rot.

I don't know what you did when you repotted, but if you removed all or some of the soil from the original rootball, then it will be very hard for your Ponytail to recover. Otherwise, undo your repotting by carefully taking the plant out of its pot and gently removing all of the new soil you added, including any on top. Then, place the original rootball back into the original or the same sized pot, adding as little fresh soil as possible.

After you have done this, you should find that a thorough watering every two weeks should be about right. You must also keep it inside very close to your sunniest available window and make sure that window is uncovered throughout the daylight hours.

I have written detailed articles on repotting and on Ponytail Palm care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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