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How to Repot Ponytail Palm: 3 Critical Steps (With Photos!)

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Are you ready to repot your Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) and you want to make sure that you’re doing everything correctly? I will show you step by step how I repotted my own plant. There are 3 very important things that you need to know for success so allow me to show you!

repot-ponytail-palm

I’ve had my own Ponytail Palm in the same pot for close to 5 years ever since I purchased it, and it had gotten very pot bound, so I’m going to show you exactly the steps I took to repot, and how I knew it was time to repot.

When to Repot Ponytail Palm

Every plant needs a larger pot eventually. My own plant was growing beautifully for many years in the same pot, but eventually, the soil was drying out much more quickly than it used to.

Which is GOOD and you want the soil to dry out quickly, but as a result of this fact, I figured that the plant was pretty root bound.

I took the plant out to take a look:

ponytail-repot

Look how pot bound! Nice healthy roots though!

HOW TO REPOT BEAUCARNEA RECURVATA, OR PONYTAIL PALM

1. LOOSEN THE ROOT BALL

When plants get extremely root bound, you’ll have to work to loosen the root ball a bit. If your soil is dry, go ahead and water it. It will make it easier to tease the roots apart.

The reason you have to do this is that otherwise, your plant will have a much harder time growing out of the densely packed ball of roots in order to grow into the soil in your new pot.

Many people are terrified to break up the root ball. You don’t have to worry!

I like to start by grabbing the root ball at the base and gently pulling things loose.

ponytail-repot
Loosening the root ball

Next, I like to work on the sides of the rootball and loosen up the sides.

Go all the way around the perimeter until you’ve loosened things up a bit.

Some people go overboard and remove all of the old soil, but I almost never do this when repotting plants, nor do I think it’s necessary.

You will inevitably break some roots, but don’t stress about it. Just don’t go crazy and break half the roots off and you will be ok.

Your goal is to loosen the roots so that they can easily grow into the new soil in its new home.

2. CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATELY SIZED POT

For your new pot, choose one that is only 1-2 inches in diameter larger than your old pot.

Don’t go overboard or be tempted to place it in a pot larger than that. Especially for succulents!

The danger in this is that if your pot is too huge, your soil will take a lot longer to dry out and this can encourage problems like root rot.

I went from a 7″ diameter pot to an 8″ diameter pot, but it was deeper than the old pot.

ponytail-palm
My Ponytail Palm in its old pot

3. USE AN EXTREMELY WELL DRAINED POTTING MIX

The last critical part in successfully repotting your ponytail palm is making sure to use a soil mix that is very well draining.

I never use any potting mix straight out of the bag. I don’t buy any fancy potting mixes, but I do blend my own to suit whatever plant I’m working with.

For succulent plants like Beaucarnea recurvata, I like to use two parts of a good succulent soil and 1 part of 1/4″ pumice.

You will get a VERY well drained mix this way and this is exactly what these plants like.

ponytail-palm-soil-mix
Top (left to right): succulent soil and pumice
Bottom (left to right): succulent soil and perlite

I actually ended up using both pumice and perlite because I didn’t have enough pumice. In the end I used 4 parts succulent soil mixed with 1 part pumice and 1 part of perlite.

Mix up everything until homogeneous, and you’re ready to go. I like to repot outdoors so I added everything in my wheelbarrow and mixed it up there.

ponytail-palm-soil

I chose a glazed ceramic pot as my plant’s new home. Terra cotta pots are also excellent, especially for succulents since they breathe and dry out more quickly than other pots.

I like to place a broken piece of terra cotta pot over the drainage hole (like an upsidedown U) so that it keeps the soil in but lets water out.

When you add the plant and start to add soil to the new pot, gently firm the soil down with your hands as you go along so that there are no air pockets and your plant is secure and is not wobbling. You don’t want a wobbly plant in your pot!

You’ll want to leave about one inch from the soil to the top of the pot so you have room to water and have a “reservoir.” Don’t forget to do this or it can get very messy when you water!

ponytail-repotting
All potted up!

Finally, give your plant a good watering and you’re all done!

Looking to purchase a Ponytail Palm? One of my favorite and most convenient one-stop-shops to buy practically any plant is Etsy. Check out the Ponytail Palm selection (link to Etsy) today!

For tips on how to grow Ponytail Palm, be sure to check out my Ponytail Palm Care post which includes everything from light, watering, common problems, etc.

If you want to actually see me physically repot this plant, check out my repotting video on YouTube!

Have you repotted your ponytail palm yet?

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

Arthur

Monday 20th of September 2021

Thank you for sharing this blog post! It helps a lot.

Raffaele

Monday 27th of September 2021

You're very welcome Arthur!

Ronda Johnson

Friday 6th of August 2021

I’ve had my ponytail palm for 9 years, repotted it once about 2 years ago. It’s doing great, however it has a baby on the root ball. And I don’t know what to do with it

Raffaele

Saturday 7th of August 2021

Hi Ronda! You can leave it there if you don't mind it, otherwise if you just want a single-trunk specimen, just cut it off. You can even try propagating it after you cut it off.

Tisha McConeghy

Thursday 29th of July 2021

The top got broke off the 30 yr old ponytail palm I have it was ok but then it got ripped down the side of top and now all leaves are dying it's way over due to be repotted but I'm in DESPERATE need of help fixing this plant or keeping it from dying. My daughter gave me this plant to care for it was her passed father in laws so it's very important I figure out what i can do to fix it. Thank you

Raffaele

Tuesday 3rd of August 2021

Hi Tisha, I'm so sorry to hear about your plant :-( I'd have to see some photos to better help though. Please use the contact form on my website to email me. Once I respond back, you can attach photos and I can give you my best advice.

Gisel

Thursday 3rd of June 2021

I just purchased a Ponytail Palm from a big box store. It was sitting in a huge puddle of water, I couldn’t leave it there! I took it out of the pot and removed all of the dripping soil and let the roots dry a bit. The roots are not very big so it’s very wobbly in it’s new pot. (I used all of your recommendations!) I don’t want to water so soon since it was wet for a good two days at least. How can I secure it without completely covering the bulb under the dirt?

Raffaele

Thursday 3rd of June 2021

Hi Gisel! Once it starts to grow into the new soil, it will stabilize. But if it's a little wobbly, you can maybe stake it with a bamboo stick or something similar. Once it grows and seems more stable, you can remove it. Hope this helps!

Ingrid

Monday 22nd of February 2021

Hi,

I've had my ponytail palm for years, my mom grew it from a baby. Two years ago I cut the plant almost in half because it was about 8 feet tall and was becoming much too hard getting it outside for the warmer weather. I know Clay pots are better for this plant but I would never be able to manage it. It has come back beautifully after cutting 4 feet off but I need to transplant it because the plastic container is cracked. I need advice on what other options I may have with choosing a new pot for it. The circumference at the bottom of this plant is about 40 inches!!! I read that these plants can grow on top of rocks in their native home outdoors. Can I repot this in a shallow container so I can move the plant easier? Thanks for any advice you can give. I wish I could include a photo so you can see what it looks like.

Raffaele

Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

Hi Ingrid! Wow, that sounds like quite a specimen! Can you send me a photo? Either through Instagram DM or just use the contact form on my website, and then when I reply, you can send photos. Have you taken the plant out of the pot? Are there roots all the way to the bottom of the pot?