What Are the Signs of Over-Watering a Ponytail Palm?

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What Are the Signs of Over-Watering a Ponytail Palm?
Dont overwater your ponytail palm. (Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Learn the signs of over-watering a ponytail palm to successfully grow this versatile plant indoors or outdoors. Ponytails are suitable for container growing, hardy in USDA zones 9 to 12, and survive temperatures as low as -7.78 degrees Celsius. Plants tolerate lowlight conditions, thrive on neglect and suffer from overattentiveness. They're very drought-resistant, so are used for xeriscape low-water gardens in arid climates.

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Yellow or Brown Leaves

Yellow or brown leaves are a clear sign your ponytail palm is getting too much water, since the tree's normal leaf colour is light green. Ponytails originate in the Mexican desert. Their native climate is dry with very low humidity. This means they can easily survive winter months in homes with heating systems that dry out the air. When this palm's leaves turn yellow or brown, wait several days before watering your palm again. Consider purchasing an inexpensive meter to gauge soil moisture levels if this problem reoccurs.

Root Rot

Root rot is a fungus. It's a serious disease caused by over-watering that causes the leaves of ponytail palms to drop. Poor leaf condition and discolouration are the first signs your palm may have root rot. If leaf condition does not improve after several days without water, suspect root rot as the culprit. To confirm this diagnosis, take the plant out of its pot, gently remove excess soil, and examine the roots. Healthy roots are white; brown or black slimy roots indicate this fungus is present. Lesser cases are cured by repotting in well-drained soil. Severe cases may not be treatable. To avoid recurrence of root rot, ensure plants are in well-drained soil. For indoor plants, check that no stones are blocking the drainage holes of your palm's pot.

Soil Is Always Wet or Cold

The soil your ponytail palm grows in must drain well, or even a reasonable amount of watering will affect it badly. Soil must feel dry to the touch before you water this plant. Types of soil suitable for ponytail palms include cactus potting mixes and a mixture of two parts loam, two parts sand and one part peat moss. Re-pot your ponytail infrequently, and never use a much larger size container. The growing rate for these palms is very slow; flowers only appear on mature and large specimens.

Plant Leaves Never Droop

Ponytail palms tell you when they need watering, because the plant's leaves droop. This plant has a reservoir of water in the swollen trunk and can live on this for between six months and a year. During the winter, water your ponytail palm just once, since it's more vulnerable to over-watering at this time. Once the soil is thoroughly dried out during the rest of the year, put the entire pot in 2 inches of water in a sink and let it draw water up through holes in the base of the pot.

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