have two ponytail palms - one is doing well, the other is not. It
had leaves on the top until a few weeks ago when they all fell off.
It now has a small shoot coming from the bottom. Should we cut it
flaky bark you can see in the photo suggests damage to the root
system or perhaps to the lower trunk. A problem like this with large
ponytails can usually only occur through serious waterlogging or
some physical damage to the roots. Unfortunately, I don't hold out
much hope of the plant surviving, but there's still a chance.
Worth considering is
the fact that large ponytails like these are generally imported
from overseas and, as part of that process, the root system is largely
cut off. It's possible your plant has not regrown a healthy root
system following importation, so if you bought the plant in the
last few months it might be worth taking it back to where you bought
it to discuss the problem. The fact that you have two plants, one
of which is healthy, indicates you probably have been giving them
reasonable care and attention and the problem is not necessarily
your fault. These plants don't come cheap and many garden centres
offer pretty good money-back guarantees on live plants.
As a last resort, you
could cut the trunk back to just above the new shoot, move it to
a warm, dry spot and not water it at all. Allow the plant and the
mix in the container to dry out as much as possible in the hope
that the new shoot keeps growing
Gardener, Issue 198, 2006, Page 22
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.