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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

Cheryl

Tuesday 17th of May 2022

When I repotted my palm, I noticed that there was a huge coiled whitish rope-like root around the bottom of the pot. I didn't know if I should cut this off. But the roots did not look like the ones in your pics with that rope-y root thing. Should I cut it off and repot? Also, how far above the soil should the cautx bulbs stick up? Halfway? Thanks!

Julie E.

Friday 29th of April 2022

Hello! I seem to keep finding the most helpful info on your site; thank you!! In this case, my 15yr old potted ponytail palm, which I repotted in to a taller pot (plastic) to keep the leaves from dragging the ground, got over watered at one point. I skipped the watering for a few rounds and then continued, being more attentive. The bottom leaves began turning all brown, and the top leaves are a super pale yellowish green/almost white. 😳 One of the 3 stalks turned brown just below the lighter growth and leaves began to fall from there. I went to repot and it’s completely dried out. I’m not sure if I can save it but I’m going to try…what’s your best advice? Oh…the soil is almost completely off of the roots at this point, as well. Did I go too far? Thank you!

Raffaele

Saturday 30th of April 2022

Hi Julie, I would need to see photos to best help, but are you sure you "overwatered" it? From everything you described, it sounds like it probably became very dehydrated.

Nancy

Friday 22nd of April 2022

Hello. I can’t seem to find anyone with my ponytail plant problem. The leaves on my ponytail froze off last winter. The mother survived, but has put on many pups on her own body, I mean MANY! Should I remove the pups surgically from mom or will this endanger all involved? Thank you to anyone who feels willing to respond. Nancy

Raffaele

Sunday 24th of April 2022

You can definitely separate them. If you cut them off, allow them to dry for a few days and then stick in a pot with soil and they will root. You can keep them all together though if you want.

Laurie Lauricella

Saturday 5th of March 2022

My ponytail palm is braking out of the pot. It’s 6 ft. and can I put it into a fabric pot? Can’t afford to put it into a clay pot and move!

Raffaele

Sunday 6th of March 2022

Hi Laurie! Yes, I don't see why not. As long as there is good drainage, you should be fine!

Barbara

Wednesday 16th of February 2022

Yiiiiiippeeeee, I did iiiiiit!!!!

My Ponytail Palm is a year old and doubled in size. (still in its nursery pot with signs of root bound.) Due to watering issues (daily yellow & brown leaf tips) I decided not to wait for spring/summer weather to repot. Within an hour the leaves were arching much higher ... as if to say THANK YOU Ohio Tropics!! 😍

Raffaele

Wednesday 16th of February 2022

Glad you had success Barbara! Thanks for sharing :-)