I enjoy caring for succulents; they’re hardy, drought-tolerant, and low-maintenance. However, many people don’t realize that succulents come in various sizes other than those mini clustering plants we often see on Instagram.
The ponytail palm is a good example, it’s a great option if you’re looking for a medium to large-sized plant to grow.
A ponytail palm can grow up to a foot (30.5 cm) each year. However, various factors can impact its growth rate. It can sometimes take several years for even a one-foot plant to double in size. As a result, a ponytail palm is typically considered slow-growing.
In this article, I will discuss the factors that affect ponytail palm growth, share tips on how to make your plant grow faster, and more. Let’s get started!
Since we’re dealing with a medium to large-sized plant, it’s only natural for any indoor grower to worry whether their ponytail palm is slow or fast-growing. After all, while you want your plant to thrive, you also wouldn’t want it to force a hole into your roof, right? Fortunately, there is no cause for concern.
Ponytail palms grow significantly slower compared to other succulents or even other types of houseplants. As I’ve mentioned, it will be years before your small plant can grow up to two feet (70 cm). There’s plenty of time for you to transfer it outdoors if it gets past your height.
Factors That Affect Ponytail Palm Growth
Also referred to as Beaucarnea recurvata, the ponytail palm prefers the same conditions that other succulents need to thrive.
One of the primary factors that impact ponytail palm growth is its soil. It should be well-draining yet also nourishing for your slow-growing plant. Thus, using cacti and succulent potting mix is ideal. You may also choose to prepare your own soil by combining gardening soil with sand and perlite.
Just like other succulents, ponytail palms don’t enjoy getting waterlogged. Hence, choosing the wrong soil will not only hinder your plant’s growth but can also lead to its death.
Being drought-resistant doesn’t mean your ponytail palm won’t need watering anymore, because it does. You should carefully consider how much water you’re giving your plant.
Make the mistake of overwatering it, and you’ll be exposing it to root rot. This, in turn, can severely impact your plant’s growth. On the other hand, underwatering your plant can result in the shrinking of its bulbous stem.
I recommend waiting for the soil to dry in between watering sessions completely. And when you do water your ponytail palm, ensure that it gets a good drink by watering it until a little bit leaks through the bottom of the pot.
A word of warning, though – you should only do so if you’re absolutely sure that your ponytail palm is planted in well-draining soil and planter.
Since we’re already on the topic of planters, adequate drainage isn’t the only point you should consider when choosing the best pot for your plant.
Remember that your pot should also be able to provide enough space for your ponytail palm. Limiting your succulent to a confined space is one of the easiest ways to keep it from growing.
Finally, it would be best if you also accounted for your plant’s environment. Do you have your potted ponytail palm indoors or outdoors? Is it even in a pot or planted directly into the ground? How much sunlight does your succulent receive each day?
It will definitely do your ponytail palm good to be on the ground. After all, there won’t be any pot edges to limit its potential.
However, it’s important to note that this succulent can struggle under direct sunlight. Instead, it will fare better under bright yet indirect sunlight. This way, your ponytail palm will get the light it needs to grow, but not too much as to burn its leaves.
The points I’ve listed above aren’t the only elements your ponytail palm will need to survive and thrive. I’ve chosen the ones that impact its growth rate the most. Regardless, I am confident that your ponytail palm will grow splendidly tall if you give it the tender loving care it needs.
Aside from paying close attention to your plant’s basic needs, there are a few more things you can try to hasten your ponytail palm’s growth further:
You can make your ponytail Palm grow faster by making the most of its active season through adequate fertilizing, pruning, and regular repotting. It would also help to minimize pests and diseases that may restrict your plant’s full growth potential.
Allow me to discuss these steps in more detail below.
Plants have active and dormant growth seasons. These can vary according to different factors, such as the type of plant that you’re caring for and your current location. Knowing when these seasons are will be incredibly beneficial if you want to maximize your plant’s growth.
For the ponytail palm, I have observed that the steps I take to hasten its growth are most effective when done during early spring. As such, this is also the time I recommend for you to fertilize your plant.
Some growers recommend using liquid fertilizers since they are easy to apply, dilute and even flush out with water if necessary. I personally prefer using slow-release fertilizers for my ponytail palm since it ensures the gradual release of nutrients over extended periods. It’s more convenient for me, and it also prevents over-fertilizing.
Speaking of over-fertilizing, this is the only thing you should watch out for. Fertilizers are essentially salts that dilute nutrients into the soil. Overfeeding your plant can lead to salt build-up that can then inhibit your plant’s ability to absorb water.
This phenomenon is called “fertilizer burn”.
Another step that you could take to hasten your ponytail palm’s growth during its active season is repotting. This would give your succulent ample space for its potential growth spurt.
You need a pot that will give your plant some wiggle space. The rule of thumb is that the plant’s trunk should be a couple of inches away from the planter’s rim. Again, don’t forget that your new pot should have adequate drainage.
A ponytail palm doesn’t really need regular pruning since it only has one trunk. You can end up beheading your plant!
However, there are times when ponytail palms produce pups. Don’t worry. This is a sign that your succulent is thriving. It just means that your mother plant has deemed its environment ideal and is thus propagating.
The problem is that pups will need nutrients as they develop. As such, they can impact the mother’s plant’s growth and even slow it down. It would be best to prune off the offset using a clean, sharp blade. You’ll also earn a new plant this way.
Finally, it would help if you tried to prevent your plant from getting diseased or infested with pests. Your ponytail palm dedicates more effort to healing and recovery whenever this happens.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to free your ponytail palm of pests. According to Plant Care Today, you can prepare a homemade pest spray by mixing equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water and adding a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap. Put your formula in a spray bottle and apply it to infected areas.
Using neem oil is very effective too. Nurseries and garden centers sell ready-to-use neem oil sprays, but I prefer to prepare my pest formula by infusing coconut oil with neem leaves.
There are two methods to extract neem oil: hot and cold infusion. I prefer hot infusion since it’s faster to do. Cold infusion sometimes takes two weeks for the neem oil to be completely extracted.
There are commercial insecticidal sprays in the market as well. I prefer using more natural alternatives as much as possible.
A ponytail palm will get as big as 30 feet (9 meters) tall when it’s growing in its ideal environment. However, it only usually grows up to four feet (1.2 meters) when it’s kept indoors. You may research your area to see how ponytail palms are growing to get a more accurate idea.
There are stunning ponytail palms at the San Diego Botanical Gardens you can check out if you’re in California. I also saw flowering ones at the Missouri Botanical Garden the last time I visited them.
Ponytail palms can take a while to grow, but when they do, they can reach stunning heights of up to 30 feet (9 meters). They can really be quite impressive, particularly when they’re in their natural environment.
Your succulent might not reach this height, especially if you keep it indoors. Potted ponytail palms would also adjust to the size of their planter. That’s why most of them don’t go beyond four feet (1.2 meters) tall. That said, you can follow the tips provided above to help your plant thrive and hasten its growth.
You may also like:
- House Plants That Grow From Cuttings
- Are Ponytail Palms Toxic to Cats?
- Are Ponytail Palms Poisonous to Humans?
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.