Shrinking PonyTail Palm Bulb

Discussion in 'Caudiciforms and Pachycaul Trees' started by elijahcat, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. elijahcat

    elijahcat Member

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    I just noticed that my ponytail palm bulb has shrunk or collapsed. The plant is in a small pot with the bulb about 4 inches in diameter. But now part of the bulb looks deflated! There is no sign of root rot as I have not watered the plant for a long time. The leaves on top looked green and the rest of the caudex is still normal except for the deflated shrunk area.

    We had a hot spell of over 100F for 2 days this week and a few days of 100F since New's Years Day.

    I am wondering if it has used up its' storage of water. Can anyone advise what I should do? I have just watered it and will be observing how it will be doing.

    Will the caudex be restored? Thanks for your advice.
     
  2. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    It may be the heat, because I know you have had quite a few days over 40 Celcius. Mark is the resident expert hear and he should be able to answer your question...

    Ed
     
  3. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    Well, it has been a few days since you have watered the plant. How does it look now? Sometimes, with dehydrated caudiciforms, it may take a few waterings before the caudex firms up again. That said, you have always got to be very aware of the risk of rot if the plant has been stressed to the point of dormancy or quiescence. Always let the soil dry out a bit before watering again.

    Mark
     
  4. elijahcat

    elijahcat Member

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    The plant remained as it was 2 days back.

    However, I noticed that the soil was still slightly wet since I watered. This means that the roots are not able to take in so much water. So I quickly repotted the plant into a terracotta pot and reduced the soil as well. So far the bottom part of the caudex appears fine.

    I will not give it any more water and will only do so until the soil becomes totally dry again. This is a tricky situation as too much water will also stress it.

    The plant is still in a sunny area outside but I am tempted to bring it indoors to reduce any extra stress from the heatwave esp on days when the temp goes beyond 90F. I have a window area that is fairly bright - is that a good idea?

    Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help it.

    Will keep you all posted on the progress.
     
  5. markinwestmich

    markinwestmich Active Member

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    If the plant has been outdoors, it may be best to keep it outdoors, but in an area protected from the sun. By doing so, it will receive much better air circulation. You have already changed the soil recently, so changing the environment so drastically may do more harm than good at this time. What I would suggest is simply moving it to a more shady location where it could be protected from the mid-day sun. If the plant is stressed, then outdoor breezes/air circulation will be very important at this time as it will reduce the chances of attack from bugs and will allow the soil to dry out quicker between waterings.

    I find it interesting that only a portion of the caudex was effected. The caudexes of Beaucarnea are typically woody once they reach a few years old. Although the caudex does serve as a type of fluid reservoir, I am not aware that the caudex would have a fluid-filled cyst that would collapse with extreme desiccation. The plant tissues of the caudex, to the best of my knowledge, typically expand/contract in a somewhat uniform manner.

    So, having said that, it is unclear if the caudex will regain it's previous shape. If the caudex and roots have been permanently damaged, it may not. However, Beaucarnea are extremely tough plants and are genetically designed for hot, arid climates. Desert plants will often loose roots due to extreme desiccation during the dry season, but will quickly regenerate roots with the next rainfall. The plant will likely recover. Just be careful to not try to save it's life with too much intervention, as it may backfire on you. Sometimes a little "skillful neglect" is wise.

    Mark
     
  6. elijahcat

    elijahcat Member

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    Thanks Mark. I just moved the pot to a spot where it gets shade in the midday and will water it carefully.

    I find it weird as well why the shrinking of the caudex is not uniform - so that we see a smaller bulb instead of a deformed ball. Let me know if you aware if there other reasons why the caudex is behaving so strangely. I wonder if it is too stressed???

    Will keep you posted on how the plant is doing.
     

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