Finally Tackled My Rootbound Ponytail Palm... ;-)

Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, VirginiaMay 19, 2013

Hello Everyone!!!

I kept looking at this Ponytail Palm and i knew it was more than due for a rootprune and repot, but i just kept putting it off... The size of the tree and the weight of the container has played a large part in putting this project off. So... I decided to tackle this "bad boy.." yesterday.... What a job!!

My son was home yesterday, so i asked him to move this heavy container and help me lift it . You can see how rootbound it was and in need of a trim. I know most of you all would say that it needs a larger container, but i am not willing to go any larger. This container is big enough and very heavy, so this baby will stay outside in the greenhouse during the winter.

I decided to repot in the 5-1-1 instead of the Gritty Mix due to the weight issue. This tree does very well here in Virginia Beach, so i know it will be happy with any attention at all!! ;-)

Here are some pictures that i took during the process.

My son, LOL.. said he would stand beside the tree only to help reference how large the tree is. He is 6 ft tall .

Hope you all are having a nice weekend!!!

Ponytail before ...

Out of the container...

Cutting some of the root mass...

Removed the top layer of soil to expose more of the Caudex,

Removing soil from the rootball

Had to move the tree to continue to remove the soil... DH was worried it was to close to the pool..

The tree finally back in its container after a trim! I think it is happy and would say " thanks" if it could...

Here it is...

Thanks for looking!

I hope you all have a great evening!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Very nice looking tree, I have 1 just like it only 100x smaller lol. I spent most of Saturday doing exactly the same thing to 1 of my Areca Palms.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 5:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Looks awesome, great job!!!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 8:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

All I can say is WOWZERS! How long have you had that palm (do you know how old it is?)? I've only seen ponytail palms around here for sale that are about a foot tall at the most!


    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 10:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I too have a very rootbound ponytail palm. but mine's stayed as 3 bulbs and not grown the tall stalk yet. I've had the plant for 3 years - in a 8" pot. I keep telling myself that this will be the year that I'll repot it. yet, I just haven't felt inspired to battle all those tightly bound roots.

I have a 12" pot to upgrade to ... maybe this weekend? ...

I think my problem is that I like to keep my plants compact - if I go up to another pot size - I'm asking for this plant to grow bigger. I know it's not the healthiest choice to abuse her like this - she deserves to grow to the best of her capabilities. but, she seems to be doing just fine as a potbound bulbish plant. I don't necessarily wish her into being a tree anytime soon.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 2:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Palm Shade... ( love your name! ) It is a tough job dealing with large trees like this. How is your Arecra Palm doing? Did you root prune yours too ? I love palms. We have several in the ground here in VA. Sabal Palmetto and Pindos ( Butias) I started them about 20 years ago. They were large when I bought them and planted them in the ground. Only had to protect them for the first two winters.. Now they are acclimated and are cold hardy for my area.

Thank you Christine!!!

Planto ...Hi there!!! I think this tree is about 18-20 years old . I actually had another one that I gave to a neighbor and this one was larger than mine. I couldn't protect that one anymore... The only way was to lean it sideways and that was the time I decided to let it go to someone that had a higher ceiling. I didn't want to let it go, but I new it was best.

Hi Rosey!

I understand about delaying repotting these big trees or other plants that need to be potted up or repotted and pruned. They really need this to continue to be the best and healthiest plants/ trees, but when they get so large, it can be a challenge. I was just talking to my best friend about when my tree is ready to be given away. Once it gets to large for my home, I will call someone to come and care for it. ;-). I have a local botanical garden here in VB, so hopefully I can donate it once I can't care for it anymore.

Your Ponytail sounds great with three trunks. Good luck with the repotting, just enjoy the size now.. Because you see what will happen in time! Lol..

Thank you for the kind comments.

Have a great day,


    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi...what a nice plant...mine too is 100 times smaller..but then if I had one that size I don't know where I would keep it....hehehe...that was a BIG job to repot...good job..thanks for sharing.....linda

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 8:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

in the tropics, this tree can attain more than 50 feet height surprisingly and the tree bark will be covered in something that makes it look like it's dressed and dabbled in black assortments that is reminiscent of pine bark.
i have a couple of multi-headed seedlings infested with fern scales before from a shade house, but after a change at how much light they can intervene to full sun, all the buggers disappeared completely.
aside from that it's a very easy plant to take care of and doesn't mind excessive root pruning. it'll even take both heavy clay soil and excessive water if given enough heat year round, but will go down easily from long-period inundation.
(i wonder how would the lesser known and more arid-inclined species like stricta, gracilis, compacta and purpusii fare in the tropics. oftentimes, i would see one enter the cultivation here.)

if i were you, i'd chop the lanky stem off the tree to produce a fuller head at the height of the growing season, and not to hit the ceiling when it's needed to be moved inside.

This post was edited by keylyn on Tue, May 21, 13 at 21:30

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 9:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, that's amazing! I hope my plants live as long as your palm has. It's sad to hear you had to part with your other one. Do you know if your neighbor still has it?


    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 10:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


How ya doing? Hope you and your family are well.

What an amazing Ponytail! Its trunk is huge. If it gets any bigger you'll need a crane to move it. :)

When you said you cut mass roots, did you cut straight across its root ball?
Were any longish roots left?

Do you know PT's hardiness zones? I'm assuming they're not hardy in your area???

Oh, one more question.
By cutting roots, will trunk and foliage slow down or stop growing altogether? Thanks, sorry for all the questions.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 1:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Laura:

Wow, that is some Ponytail! I had one for about 15 years, never got nearly as large as that, though it was neglected for years, rarely got enough sun, finally managed to kill it. Last year I started over with a pot full of Ponytail babies, hope they do well for me, I have them outside my window now. Would love to see more photos of your other plants.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 8:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What an amazing plant. What a job to undertake! Looks great.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 10:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Linda !

Thank you for the kind comments!

Hi Key... Thank you for all of the info. I will definitely keep that option open next summer . I think I'm going to let him rest for the summer and then make a decision on sending him off to another home or cut back like you mentioned. Great idea though. I'll keep you posted!

Hi Planto .. I have not seen the gentleman to whom I gave the other tree to .. Maybe it is best if I don't know.. Lol. It would hurt my feelings if he didn't take care of it , but I'm sure ( fingers crossed) that he is...

Hi Toni!

I did cut straight across the root ball and started with a third of the bottom lopped off. Then I started in the center and around and untangled the roots and cut the long ones off. Trimmed the top root where I exposed the newer caudex area too . Pony Tail Palms are hardy in Zones 9-11. I probably could try and plant in the ground here , but I would need to watch the low temps when they reach lower 20's. I think my tree is already showing signs. Of growth and I don't think it will skip a beat at all especially with the roots like they were and now having room , the tree will probably grow quite a bit now!
Yikes! I'll keep you posted!

Hope you are doing well? Everyone here is ok and ready for the warm summer temps. It is cool and raining here today almost like a Northeaster blowing .. Yuck!

Hi Christopher!!

Thank you!!! It was a huge job! Glad I is over though... Lol
I will post some more pics for you soon. I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!!

Hi Entr... Thank you for the big comments ! I really appreciate them!

Take care ,


    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 2:09PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Help!! Plant almost died while i was on vacation
Could my plant be exposed to too much sunlight? Should...
Pruning Ficus Lyrata (fiddle leaf fig)
Hi everyone! I have a 5 foot tall healthy, indoor ficus...
What to do with Alocasia tubers?
As the lower leaves on my Alocasia poly died over time,...
P. erubescens: smaller and ever smaller
Hello, all. I posted this in the Aroid Forum but the...
Fittonia - ID & Care
Here's another plant I just bought. I'd appreciate...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™