Ponytail plant #457108

Asked May 26, 2018, 2:47 PM EDT

Why are some of the leaves turning brown? Also the tips of the leaves are brown. Am I not watering it enough? Thank you

Cuyahoga County Ohio

Expert Response

Hello and thank you for the question.

Ponytail palms, beaucarnia recurvate, are desert plants that thrive on bright light and uniformly moist but not wet soil and average household temperatures. They can tolerate being on the dry side occasionally because the enlarged trunk stores water.

I can’t say with certainty what is causing your plant’s laves to turn brown, but there are several scenarios.

The first is that older leaves on the plant eventually turn yellow, then brown, then dry up. These leaves can be removed without harm to the plant if they are loose and falling off. You can also cut off the brown tips of the leaves without causing harm to the plant.

Other possibilities for the brown leaves are over or under watering, lack of light or exposure to low temperatures. I suspect that if you are asking if you are watering the plant enough, the problem is with over or under watering, not low temperatures. Overwatering is the most common reason for these plants dying. Once the plant is watered, allow it to dry out as you would a cactus or other succulents.

Ponytail palms have few pests but mealybugs or scale could be a problem. These websites will tell you how to check for these two pests and what to do about them.


The handout listed below is an excellent source of information about this plant. It will give you tips and techniques for caring for the plant.

Christine H. Replied June 02, 2018, 12:39 AM EDT

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