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Plant Diseases/Ponytail palm problem (houseplant)


Ponytail palm houseplant problem
Ponytail palm housepla  
Our houseplant ponytail palm quickly developed a lot of brown areas on its crown leaves. I had done its monthly watering last week, giving it more water than usual due to Seattle's recent heat wave.

Thanks for any advice you can give us.


Dear Karen, This does look like a crown rot on your ponytail palm. The only other option, judging from the photo only, would be sun scorch but since this is a reported houseplant that would be unlikely.  If your plant is on a drip saucer, or in a container that holds water (to protect flooring or carpet), you must be very careful not to leave any water in the container.  Water the plant thoroughly but remove any water that drains into the saucer or pot.  Make sure the soil drains quickly.  To treat this condition, I would spray with a good fungicide probably once a week for about three weeks.  The condition might clear up on its own with drying and warming conditions, or the fungicide could help it from spreading, or sometimes this condition simply won't clear up, and the plant dies.  The affected leaves will not change back to green, but you will know that the plant is getting better if you have new unaffected growth.  You may want to cut those damaged leaves, but it does leave a gap in the plant.  I wish you luck, but only time will tell if the ponytail will overcome this condition.  Please write back if you have further questions.  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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