help:is my ponytail palm dead?

Discussion in 'Caudiciforms and Pachycaul Trees' started by Rina07, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. Rina07

    Rina07 Member

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    Hi,

    My ponytail palm, which was perfectly healthy last year, started to lose leaves- they were green but lifeless and dry. I did not water it much. So, I decided to water it more. It developed some new leaves, but later they died too. While repotting it, I noticed that the roots are all wet and they were just falling off when I touched them. Yesterday I cut off all the leaves and decided to cut off the top of the trunk (3 inches). I noticed that it wasn’t green, it was white and dry inside. Is it supposed to look like that, or is my palm dead?
    What do I do? It still has some strong roots left and it is about 8 inches high. Can I revive it? Please, help!

    Thank you.
     
  2. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Difficult to say if it is dead, but from your description, it is certainly in some trouble. It sure sounds like a bad case of root rot. It is unclear why you cut the top of the plant off, but Beaucarnea caudexes are rather woody and not green on the inside.

    No guarantees, but if you are insistent upon attempting to save this plant, here is what I would do.

    1. Remove the plant from it's container and soil. Gently remove any diseased/dead roots. Brush off as much of the old soil as you can without damaging the remaining roots.

    2. Pick a container that is not much larger than the caudex and remaining roots. Make sure it has large drainage holes in the bottom. You can cover the holes with a small piece of window screen. Bonsai stores will also have drainage hole screens.

    3. Lightly dust the remaining roots and underside of caudex with rooting hormone.

    4. Gently repot in a very well-draining mix. Make sure there are not large air pockets in and around the roots, by gently pushing the soil around the roots with a finger, blunt-end stick or pencil. Personally, I would look for bonsai soil, Turface, Flourite, or the like. You can do a web search for these products and find businesses in your area that carry them. Personally, I really avoid any of the commercial potting mixes with these type of plants.

    5. Do not water for at least a week. Then slowly add small amounts of water over the next few weeks afterward. Since it is entering the winter months, do not expect any significant results until late Spring, as the plant will be in a dormant/semi-dormant state. Keep the soil mix on the dry side as the plant will not be able to take in water efficiently for a several months.

    6. Once the outdoor overnight temperatures are averaging around 50*F, bring it outdoors and place in a sunny spot. Water when the soil is dry.

    Good luck
     
  3. Rina07

    Rina07 Member

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    Thank you so much for your advice! I'll do everything exactly as you said. I really love this palm and want to save it.
    One more question. Is it bad that I cut the top off? Will it do more damage? I covered the cut with a candle wax. Is it Ok?

    Thanks again.
     
  4. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Potentially, given that the plant is already under stress from disease. Covering the cut with candle wax is OK.

    Best case scenario will be that the plant will begin to grow again this Spring and will likely have more than one shoot growing from the top of the caudex.

    Mark
     

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