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Plant Diseases/Ponytail palm


I was given a ponytail palm when I was 5.  My family and I have taken care of it since. I will soon be 45.  Just lately all the leaves have drooped til they drag themselves out of the top.  How long do these palms live inside And can I save it?  It's about 4.5 feet tall and the bulb is about  8/9 inches in diameter.thank you.  It's been with me a long time I'd like to save it.  It get plenty of sun and dries out between watering.

Dear Janet, Leaves coming out of a ponytail palm sounds like a possibility of crown rot.  It is possible, in colder weather and sometimes at other times, for the leaves to turn yellowish and pull out of the top.  If you can get it, spraying the top with a fungicide called Consan is known to treat and control that problem.  It is also possible that the weight of the leaves can be dragging them down.  You can definitely trim the leaves a bit and make them shorter, just like giving it a haircut.  This can often be very helpful if there is a lot of traffic around the plant.  When it warms up in the spring you can check to see if the plant needs repotting, or to have the soil aerated or enriched by adding some better soil, and you can give it a light feeding.  Sometimes even indoor plants can feel the stress of a cold winter.  Check carefully for signs of rot - if you do find any, clean them out and treat with fungicide and keep drier.  However I don't think you will find any.  Incidentally, the largest indoor ponytail palm I ever saw was at the Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth Texas.  It is two stories high and just magnificent.  These plants can be very long lived.  I hope this information helps, but write back if it develops more symptoms or you need more help.  Sorry for the late response, but I completely overlooked the email message.  Melissa

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Melissa Johnston


Plant diseases, landscaping, tropical plants, roses, herbs, plant care, grafting, horticulture, plant identification, anything about plants I can likely answer.


35 years experience in various plant businesses, 1984 Certified Texas Master Gardener.

Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

none as of yet, but I have a plant q&a book I am in process of submitting.

Magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M, 1978

Awards and Honors
Plant growing awards, highest grade for Texas Master Gardener graduates.

Past/Present Clients
Past member of and was very highly rated. Owned landscape company in the past, Almost Paradise, and was very successful despite little equipment, no help, and no advertising. Lived well for two years until 9/11.

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