How to Transplant a Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palms are not true palms.
Ponytail palms are not true palms. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The ponytail palm has many aliases. Although it belongs to the Agave plant family and is not a true palm, it’s called bottle palm, monja, Palma culona, elephant-foot tree and in the botanical world it’s known as Beaucarnea recurvata. This hardy houseplant is sometimes grown as a bonsai specimen because of its compact size. As a houseplant, it rarely exceeds 3 feet tall. Ponytail palms thrive when they’re rootbound, so you’ll only need to transplant your plant every three or four years.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Knife
  • Clippers
  • Rooting hormone
  • Pot

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Remove your ponytail palm tree from its current pot by sliding a knife around the inside edges of the pot and working out the root system.

Rinse the existing soil from the roots. Then inspect the roots for signs of rotting or insect damage. Clip off all roots that appear rotted or that contain any type of insect. Also trim old, large roots. Dip the remaining roots in a rooting hormone.

Prepare a potting mix with 50 percent standard potting soil and equal parts of perlite, vermiculite, bark chips, large-grain sand or pumice.

Set your unpotted ponytail palm into its new, clean pot to determine the amount of potting mix to use before you plant it. If the top of the root system sits 6 inches below the rim, for example, fill the pot with about 5 1/2 inches of soil before you set your plant into the new pot.

Set your ponytail palm on top of the potting mix in the new pot and then fill the pot to within ½ inch of the rim with additional potting mix.

Allow the plant to rest without water for one week. Continue watering it sparingly when the soil is dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not prune or trim any part of the ponytail palm, except dead leaves and side shoots if you want to maintain a single trunk.


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