Are Ponytail Palms Poisonous to Humans?

Ponytail palms are ideal houseplants for home decor, especially popular in South Florida and Georgia. However, as with any other houseplant, you need to be concerned about any potential health hazards they pose to you and anyone else in your household. So, are ponytail palms poisonous to humans?

Fortunately, ponytail palms are not poisonous to humans. However, the pesticides and fertilizers used during plant care may contain toxic ingredients, resulting in adverse health effects for humans and pets.

This article will cover potential health hazards you may encounter during plant care and how to mitigate the risks involved. I will list some common houseplants that are poisonous to humans and some valuable tips to follow when caring for toxic houseplants.

Potential Health Hazards Associated With Ponytail Palms

Ponytail palms may not be poisonous to humans, but some potential health risks are associated with your plant care products. These products include insecticides, fungicides, and chemical fertilizers.

Ponytail palms treated with these products are poisonous to humans and may cause severe health reactions when ingested.

But should ponytail palms be eaten by humans?

Are Ponytail Palms Edible?

Even though they are not poisonous, ponytail palms are suited for human consumption. You should never consume any part of the plant—nor should you feed any part of the plant to pets. So, it would be best to keep your pets away from the plant whenever possible.

Let’s explore how your plant care products can affect your health.

Poisonous Ponytail Palm Pesticides

Pesticides include insecticides and fungicides used for plant care.

Mealybugs are the most common pest found on ponytail palms. Using an insecticide to eliminate mealybugs is one of the fastest and most convenient options.

On the other hand, fungal infections may damage plant parts and cause diseases such as root rot. In efforts to treat such conditions, you may opt to use fungicides.

Unfortunately, these pesticides may also contain poisonous chemicals that pose serious health risks to humans when inhaled, touched with bare hands, or ingested.

Pesticides may pose significant toxicity to humans—especially those containing active ingredients such as:

You may find additional information regarding the toxicity of a pesticide on the product label or Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), as required by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Possible short-term side effects of ponytail palm pesticide poisoning include:

  • Nasal Irritation
  • Eye Irritation
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Increased salivation
  • Diarrhea
  • Death

In addition, studies link long-term exposure to pesticides to cancer, reproductive defects, and endocrine disruptors, among other chronic health issues.

How can you eliminate pests on your ponytail palm without exposing you or others in your household to harmful pesticides? Please read on for some excellent alternatives to toxic pesticides.

Safe Alternatives to Ponytail Palm Pesticides

  • Soak up some rubbing alcohol (at least 10%) into a cotton swab and wipe mealybugs off your plant (this method is also effective for eliminating eggs and nymphs).
  • Employ ladybugs (also called mealybug destroyers), which prey on mealybugs and other common pests that may infest your ponytail palm (this method is effective for more extensive ponytail palm plantations).
  • Use a high-pressure water jet on infested plant parts to forcibly remove pests (being cautious not to overwater the plant, which may result in root rot).
  • Purchase neem oil spray, which safely eliminates pests and fungi on ponytail palms and is eco-friendly (confirm that any additional ingredients are non-toxic).
  • For fungal infections, apply a 1% baking soda solution to affected plant parts (although this method is ineffective for eliminating spores).
  • Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water, and spray the solution on the fungal infection.

Regularly inspecting your ponytail palms for pests will make these safe pest control methods more effective since more minor infestations are easier to manage.

Poisonous Ponytail Palm Fertilizers

Ponytail palms can survive in low-nutrient soils, but fertilizing once or twice in the growing seasons is recommended to increase plant vigor. You may fertilize using organic compost and manure or synthetic/chemical fertilizers.

Chemical fertilizers often contain poisonous chemicals, which can cause severe health effects when ingested, inhaled, or touched.

Nitrates and heavy metals such as lead and mercury contribute heavily to fertilizer toxicity. Other poisonous elements that may be present in fertilizers include arsenic and fluorides.

The following are potential health effects associated with fertilizer poisoning:

  • Skin irritation (may also cause burning sensations or redness of the skin)
  • Eye irritation
  • Stomach upset or pain
  • Throat irritation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Death (when ingested in large amounts)

Also, studies show a link between prolonged exposure to toxic chemical fertilizers and cancer, hemoglobin disorders, and DNA damage.

How To Mitigate Harmful Health Effects of Ponytail Palm Fertilizers

Where the benefits of using chemical fertilizer for your ponytail palms seem to outweigh the disadvantages, ensure that you limit the application frequency to the minimum required.

Select products recommended for indoor plants, as they may be safer to use around people and pets.

Furthermore, you must follow all safety protocols recommended by the manufacturer to prevent accidental poisoning. They should include proper handling, storage, and disposal procedures, to protect you and those in your household.

If you or someone around you accidentally ingest or inhale this product, urgently seek medical assistance and do not try to induce vomiting since it may worsen the situation.

Below are effective alternatives to chemical fertilizers for your ponytail palms:

  • Use a balanced organic liquid fertilizer such as seaweed, which contains little to no poisonous compounds.
  • Eco-friendly coffee grounds are effective in treating alkaline soil and reducing the pH to promote healthy ponytail palms.

Common Houseplants Poisonous to Humans

Unlike ponytail palms, some houseplants are poisonous to humans and pets. Below is a list of these toxic plants and the potential health effects associated:

Plant NamePoisonous PartsToxins PresentHealth Effects
Devil’s Ivy / PothosLeavesStemsCalcium OxalatesMouth irritationThroat irritation (including swelling that may interfere with breathing)Stomach upsetsSwelling due to fluid accumulation in body tissue(edema)
Oleander PlantAll plant partsCardiac GlycosidesStomach upsetsDiarrheaBloatingVomiting and nauseaLiver and kidney decline contact dermatitis inflammation
English Ivy / Hedera HelixStemsLeavesBerriesSaponinsFalcarinolDidefalcari-nolMouth and throat irritationVomitingLoss of appetite stomach upsetsDiarrheaExcessive salivationShortness of breath
Sago PalmAll plant parts, especially the seedsCycasinVomitingDiarrheaStomach upsetsChronic fatigueBleeding disordersLiver failure
Caladium / Angels WingsAll plant partsInsoluble calcium oxalatesBurning sensations on lips and tongueDermatitis and skin irritationsStomach upsetsThroat irritation
Snake plant / Mother-in-law’s tongue / SansevieriaLeavesFlowersSaponinsOrganic acidsExcess salivationVomitingDiarrheaStomach UpsetsHemolysis (destruction of the red blood cells)
Diefennbachia / Dumb CaneAll plant partsCalcium oxalatesFatigue VomitingStomach painsDiarrheaHeadachesLiver damage death (in cases of chronic poisoning)
Sago PalmAll plant partsCycasinFatigue VomitingStomach painsDiarrheaHeadachesLiver damageDeath (in cases of chronic poisoning)
DaffodilsAll plant partsLycorineVomitingDiarrheaStomach upsets

Disclaimer: This list is not exhaustive and only covers the common houseplants. To be safe, always research any plant you purchase to ensure that you are aware of any associated health effects for you or your pet. The plant shop attendant may also suggest safer alternatives for toxic plants.

Costa Farms Ponytail Palm Bonsai, Live Indoor Plant, Clean Air Purifying Houseplant in Modern Decor Planter, Fresh From Farm, Birthday Gift, Tabletop Office Desk or Home Décor, 15-20 Inches Tall

How To Safely Care for Poisonous Houseplants

The most effective way to protect you and those in your household from poisonous houseplants is to replace them with non-toxic alternatives. Fortunately, you can find nearly identical yet safer options at plant shops.

However, suppose this is not an option you want to implement. In that case, you can take the following safety precautions to ensure that no human or pet suffers the potentially fatal health effects:

  • Keep these plants safely out of reach, especially from children and pets who may unwittingly nibble on poisonous plant parts.
  • Always wear protective clothing such as a face shield and rubber gloves to ensure that you do not come into direct contact with the plant when attending to it.
  • Put a clear sign near the plant indicating that it is poisonous so that others know to stay away.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you or anyone else accidentally ingests the toxic plant.
  • Wash any tools used for tending your plant directly after use and preferably store them separately from other implements to prevent cross-contamination.


Ponytail palms are not poisonous to humans or pets, but you can be exposed to toxins when applying pesticides and chemical fertilizers. To prevent this, opt for safe, organic alternatives that pose the least number of risks to your health.

Furthermore, you must follow all the plant care the manufacturer provides to prevent accidental poisoning. Some houseplants contain toxic compounds which cause severe health effects when ingested or upon contact.

Such plants must be managed with care or replaced with suitable non-toxic alternatives which are safe for humans.

You may also like: