Overwatering is the main cause of dying ponytail palm plants. It is a succulent plant and needs less water and fertilizers. But when people treat it like a small version of a palm tree. They damage the plant which leads to its death.

In today’s article, I will discuss all the common causes of ponytail palm dying. You will also learn how to identify your cause and fix it in easy steps.

Let’s start

Why is your ponytail palm plant dying?

As I said excessive water is the main cause of ponytail plant death. This triggers many different problems like brown leaves, yellow leaves, root rot, soft stem, etc.

Light issues and pest infestation are secondary reasons that can be corrected easily.

Below is the information that you need to save your dying ponytail palm plant.

Causes and Fixes

1. Too Much Water

In this case, your plant leaves turn yellow and drop. The soil in the pot becomes wet and heavy. This put extra pressure on plant roots and blocks their normal function.

To prevent it or correct it you need to learn the correct watering technique.


To fix this issue, you need to water your plant less frequently. Before watering your plant always check the condition of the soil.

Poke your index finger in the soil about 2 inches deep. If the soil feels dry and contains very less amount of moisture. You can water your plant.

But on the other hand, if there is a good amount of moisture in the soil and it feels moist. Do not water it because this indicates that the soil already has enough water in it.

You can use the soil moisture testing meter if you are new to gardening.

2. Dehydration

If you are neglecting your plant this leads to dehydration and then the death of the ponytail palm. Sometimes due to a busy schedule, we forgot about our plants.

The good news is ponytail palm can handle a little bit of negligence. But when you see weakness in your plant with brown and crispy leaves. This means it is dying due to less watering.


Immediately grab the watering can and give some water to your plant.


The best method is to take a tub of water and place your plant pot in it. This way the soil absorbs the required amount of moisture in less than 5 minutes.

The bottom hole in the pot helps the soil to quickly transport the water to the plant roots.

After 5 minutes take the plant out of the tub and place it somewhere to drain the extra water.

Within 20 to 25 minutes it will drain the extra amount of water. Then empty the bottom tray and place it in its final place. Re-check the tray after 1 hour, empty it if you see water in it.

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3. Fertilizer Overdose

Overfertilization is a common cause of plant problems. Growers give a high dose of fertilizer to speed up the growth of their plants.

There is no method available that can multiply the growth rate. Fertilizers only give essential nutrients to them. This helps them to grow healthy, not fast.

Overdose damage the roots and the leaf tips will turn crispy brown. If your plant has brown crispy leaf tips then below is the solution that can help.


There are 2 methods to save overfertilized ponytail palm plants.

First, flush the soil under the running tap water. This will drain the extra amount of nutrients from the bottom hole. You will see salty water coming out of the drainage hole. Once the water gets clear stop the tap and place it in its place.

Then after 40 minutes empty the water that gets collected in the bottom tray.

In the second method, you need to change the potting soil. If the first method did not help then changing the soil is the only option left.

4. Drainage Issues

Ponytail palm dying due to the wrong selection of plant pot is also common. The pot that you are using to grow it must have 2 or more holes at the bottom.

They are made by the manufacturers to drain the extra amount of water. This is the reason we put a tray under the pots.

So that the extra water gets collected in it without creating a mess on the floor.


I use terracotta plant pots for all my plants. Because this material has tiny holes in it (Pours material). This allows the fresh air to circulate freely. It keeps the soil of the pot fresh and disease-free.

5. Light Issues

If your ponytail palm is dying and also has a stretchy appearance. This means it is living in low light conditions.

The solution to this problem is moving your plant to a bright place. This does not mean you move it outside in the direct sun rays.

It cannot tolerate them. Indirect bright light is sufficient for its proper care and growth. Place it near the sunny window.

Morning sunlight is not a problem for it. In fact, it is required to keep your plant pest-free and disease-free. But after 10 am the sun starts emitting sharp hot rays.

High intense light is not recommended for the palm ponytail plant. It can burn your plant leaves and increase the chances of dehydration.

6. Pest Problems

Mealybugs, Spider mites, and Scales are insects that are often found on many plants. They can be found on the undersides of the leaves, near the stem joint, on the top side of the leaves.

These pets absorb the sap of the plant and your plant becomes nutrient deficient. Then they damage the fiber tissues to lay their eggs.


The basic method is taking the cotton cloth and rubbing alcohol and wiping the plant leaves. This will kill most of the pests and solve your problem.

But if they are present in large colonies then you should rinse your plant with insecticidal soap.

Take the plant out of your house and then rinse it. This will save your other houseplant from infection.

Professional-grade Pesticidal sprays are not recommended they are harmful to plants.

7. Incorrect pH of the Soil

Chlorosis of the leaves and slower growth are the two signs that tell us about the pH of the soil. Incorrect pH of the soil can block the absorption of water and nutrients. This results in ponytail palm dying.


6 to 7 is the pH range for the ponytail palm plant. This means it needs soil on the alkaline side. But when you use concentrated fertilizers, this brings the pH down.

Do a pH test with the help of the Soil pH testing kit. If the soil is on the acidic side, then repot your plant in new soil.

8. Incorrect Temperature Range

The Ponytail palm is a temperature-sensitive plant. It cannot handle the situation if the temperature of grow room drops below 45 degrees F.


If you like to place your ponytail palm outside in summer then please bring it back before the winter starts.  Because once the temperature drops below 45 F. This will hit the plant badly.

Bring your plant inside and place it in the warm room. Do not let the hot air flow of heating vents directly fall on the plant.

This will dehydrate it and increase the problems.


The main cause of Ponytail palm dying is overwatering. Most of the problems listed above the linked to the excessive use of water.

Limit the use of water and fertilizers to keep your plant protected from all the issues.

To know more about the plants, visit our houseplant section.


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