Introduction: How to Transplant a Large Ponytail Palm

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Time to move it into a larger container – this is all about how to transplant a large Ponytail Palm.

Step 1:

I love my 3-headed Ponytail Palm which I bought in a 6″ pot at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market years ago. But boy oh boy has it grown! I’ve repotted it twice and the last time was 2 1/2 years ago. It lives outdoors year round on my covered patio here in Tucson and thrives in the heat.

This same method of transplanting would also apply to a smaller Ponytail Palm. They can stay potbound for quite a while and like most plants, they’ll just stop growing. Even though was as potbound as can be, it still looked fine. It was starting to put out a big surge of spring growth so I definitely wanted to get this done before May rolled around.

Step 2:

Materials I used:

23″ Resin Chantham Planter in cobalt blue. This is a very lightweight yet durable & attractive (not to mention inexpensive!) container so it gets 2 thumbs up.

Succulent & cactus mix . Ponytail Palms need excellent drainage so this is key. I used 1 from a local company but I recommend this mix succulent & cactus mix if you can’t find 1 locally.

Potting soil. I threw in a bit of potting soil in because I’m in the desert & want it to hold moisture in the hot summer months. You can plant a Ponytail Palm in potting soil but you have to be very mindful not to over water it.

Organic compost. I always add local compost into everything I plant, both in containers & the ground. Here’s a good organic compost.

Worm Castings. What can I say, this is my favorite amendment

Step 3:

Here’s the pot it was in prior to this transplanting. The new planter is a good 5″ deeper & 4″ wider. There’s quite a bit more room in the new 1 because it doesn’t taper down as much.

Steps I took to transplant the Ponytail Palm:

Drill drain holes in the bottom of the pot.

Tie up the ponytails into “top knots” (watch the video & you’ll see what I mean).

Remove the decorative topdressing & the Burro’s Tail Sedum.

Loosen the root ball away from the pot. I used a trench diggers shovel (or ditch spade) but you could use a regular shovel. A pruning saw, if long enough, would do the trick also.

Turn the pot on its side & pull the plant out of the pot. Mine came out with no problems at all. Massage the root ball to loosen the tight roots.

Step 4:

The thick roots at the bottom were really tight.

Cover the drain holes with a coffee filter to keep too much of the lightweight mix from washing out.

Fill up the bottom of the container with succulent & cactus mix, potting soil & compost.

Put the plant in the pot so the top of the root ball sits about 1/2 – 1″ above the top of the container. The weight of the root ball & plant will pull it down in the lightweight mix.

Fill in around the sides with succulent mix & compost. You want to use much more mix than compost – too much compost can burn the roots of a plant. Pack the mix in a bit to make sure it’s all the way down on the sides.

The Burro’s Tail Sedum went back in. Sprinkle the top with a 1/2″ layer of worm castings & more of the mix. You could use an organic all purpose fertilizer if you prefer.

Let it stay dry for about a week. Then, water in well.

After the plant settles down in the pot, add more mix & top that with compost.

Step 5:

Here’s how this Ponytail Palm looked on my back patio in Santa Barbara a few years after its 1st transplanting. It certainly has gotten bigger!

I could have easily divided this Ponytail Palm into 3 plants because there was a bit of separation between each bulbous base and each had substantial root growth. To me, the 3 heads in 1 pot are much more appealing so I left them be. Ya gotta love Ponytails because they’re so very fascinating but a breeze to maintain!

If you’re crazy about Ponytail Palms like I am, then be sure to check out our houseplant care book, Keep Your Houseplants Alive because this groovy plant is in it. If you’d like 1 of your very own, here’s a source for small Ponytail Palms .

Happy gardening & thanks for stopping by,


@Joy us garden