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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!


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:


Look how pot bound! Nice healthy roots though!



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.

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.


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.

My Ponytail Palm in its old pot


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.

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.


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!

All potted up!

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

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?


Monday 14th of August 2023

We moved almost a year ago and during the move all the leaves on my palm plant got broken off. It broke my heart. But I still keep watering it and it is VERY, VERY slowly growing again. The leaves are about 1 and 1/2" long now. My question is how long does it take for it to really start growing again? And should I repot it in a smaller pot? It was so full and pretty and now is sad looking. I don't want to throw it out if it is salvageable. Also my cats love to eat the leaves. They haven't gotten sick yet but are they poison to them?


Monday 14th of August 2023

I'm so sorry to hear that Lani! I would leave it in the same pot. They're not the fastest-growing plants, so you'll just have to have some patience. The only thing that would speed up the growth is more light (they can take as much direct sun as you can give them indoors), and warmth. Other than that, it's a waiting game. You can fertilize as well, but there are no tricks, unfortunately.


Wednesday 21st of June 2023

Omg ….. I’ve just seen your guide this morning after having reported my Ponytail last Saturday. She had been in the same pot for 12 years and looked like yours but began looking poorly recently. She was in a very large pot, but the soil had gradually compacted way down over the years and I kept saying to myself: “I must repot that ponytail I must repot that….” Well when I took her out, I was amazed! Her roots were like a coiled garden hose. Never seen anything like it! I live in a unit, so I took it downstairs to the communal tap where I could work in a bigger space. Unfortunately, 😬😬😬😬 I think I made a big boo boo by cutting off most of those roots back to the “ball.” 😱 There were a few fresh roots, which I didn’t touch, though, so maybe there’s hope. She’s been repotted into a deep terra cotta pot with fairly friable potting mix. I’m praying she recovers if I just quietly leave her alone now.🙏 🤞 Thanks for that info, though. If I ever need to repot her again, I’ll know exactly what to do. 👍

Ps: the reason I did what I did is because I had run out of credit when I decided to repot and just improvised.😫

Jan. Brisbane, Australia.


Thursday 22nd of June 2023

Sometimes you have to do what you have to do! Good luck with your plant Jan :-)

Carlos Lopez

Friday 5th of May 2023

I have a pony tail palm that is about 6 foot tall a 22” dia. Base and need to r3locate is this possible


Sunday 7th of May 2023

Yes absolutely! I assume you mean you need to repot it?


Friday 24th of February 2023

Hi, I recently bought a Ponytail Palm at a big box store. It's in a plastic garden pot. Should I repot it in a ceramic pot and should I change the potting mix?


Tuesday 28th of February 2023

Hi Paulette! There is no harm in keeping it in the plastic pot for now until it needs to be repotted. Unless there are roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, keep it in there for now. If the potting mix is draining freely and drying out reasonably within a week or so, you can keep that too for now.

Wilber Amberson

Monday 2nd of January 2023

Thanks for the great guide and pictures! I received two gorgeous Ponytail Palms for Christmas and they came in grow pots as well as an outer glazed pot. Unfortunately the glazed outer pot does not have a drainage hole. I'm worried about leaving it in its growing pot for too long, but am also worried about repotting in the glazed pot without a drainage hole. Is it normal to keep these palms in their growing pots for extended periods of time? I actually lifted one out of the growing pot and it looks nearly identical to your first picture, with the roots quite tightly packed around the perimeter. It's definitely potted in a well drained soil though, as even watering a very small amount quickly drains through the bottom of the grow pot. I'm thinking of either buying glazed pots with an actual drainage hole and tray or lining the included ones with a gravel of some sort and then repotting.


Tuesday 3rd of January 2023

I would definitely repot into a pot with a drainage hole, and there is nothing wrong with leaving the plant in a nursery pot. I do this all the time. You can repot it into a larger nursery pot and then slip it into the current decorative pot if it still fits. Bottom line, having a drainage hole is the top consideration regardless of pot material. Good luck! :-)