Ponytail Palm Drooping: 5 Common Causes

Ponytail palm drooping is a common issue that many plant enthusiasts encounter. Having kept them for several years, I have identified five common factors that can cause this problem.

ponytail palm drooping

Ponytail palms are hardy plants, so if you notice yours drooping, don’t panic just yet. 

In this article, I will explain the most common causes for drooping and provide a step-by-step guide to bring your ponytail palm back to full health.

1. Overwatering

Overwatering is the leading cause of drooping in ponytail palms.

Many people, including myself, tend to water these plants frequently, similar to other houseplants. 

However, ponytail palms only need watering once or twice a month during the growing season, and even less during colder months. 

Overwatering saturates the soil and deprives the roots of oxygen and essential nutrients. This leads to drooping leaves that turn yellow from the tips as they slowly wither.

ponytail palm drooping

2. Underwatering

While less common, underwatering can also cause drooping in ponytail palms. These plants require very little water, so it’s crucial not to underwater them.

To differentiate between overwatering and underwatering, check the leaves.

Underwatering creates a yellow band that quickly turns brown along the length of the leaves, unlike overwatering, which starts from the tips.

3. Sunlight Levels

ponytail palm drooping

Providing the right amount and type of sunlight is essential for ponytail palms. 

These plants thrive with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. However, this habit does not mean the more the merrier for them. 

When they are exposed to too much direct sunlight, the heat can scorch their leaves and cause them to droop. 

In contrast, as they are plants that love sunlight, being deprived from their favorite can also lead them to have ailing leaves. As a result, they won’t be able to produce enough food for proper development.

Aim for the ideal balance.

4. Humidity

ponytail palm drooping

Humidity is another crucial factor that affects ponytail palms and can cause drooping leaves. It impacts transpiration, which influences the stomatal openings responsible for water loss. 

This, in turn, affects photosynthesis and overall growth. Ponytail palms prefer humidity on the lower end of the spectrum (around 40% – 50%).

 If the humidity is not within this range, it can impact growth and cause drooping.

5. Temperature

Temperature plays a vital role in photosynthesis and growth. If the temperature is outside the ideal range, your ponytail palm may begin to droop. 

Maintain temperatures above 60°F (15°C) most of the time, with nighttime temperatures no lower than 45°F (7°C).

ponytail palm drooping

Ponytail Palm Drooping: How To Find Diagnose

If you’re unsure about the cause of drooping, here are three quick checks you can perform:

1. Check the Soil

Start by checking the soil. Overwatering is the most common issue, so examine the moisture level. 

Saturated soil near the surface indicates overwatering, while completely dry soil suggests underwatering. 

Also, check the drainage holes; if water has collected at the bottom, it indicates overwatering.

ponytail palm drooping

2. Check the Leaves

Next, observe the leaves. Yellow or brown coloration starting from the tips without crispy textures confirms overwatering. 

On the other hand, brown edges with crispiness indicate underwatering or scorching due to excessive sunlight.

3. Check Other Conditions

Measure the temperature and humidity levels using a thermometer and hygrometer. Ensure they fall within the optimal range. 

Additionally, assess the amount of sunlight received by your ponytail palm. 

Avoid excessive direct sunlight and place the plant in an area with plenty of bright, indirect light.

ponytail palm drooping

Ponytail Palm Drooping: How To Revive

To revive a drooping ponytail palm, follow these steps:


Overwatering is more challenging to address than other causes.

If your ponytail palm is overwatered, I recommend trimming the affected leaves that have turned completely yellow. 

These leaves can still be beneficial to the plant if they have only partially changed color. Refer to my complete guide on reviving overwatered plants for more detailed steps.


ponytail palm drooping

If your ponytail palm has been underwatered, move it to a more shaded area. Then, submerge the pot in a sink filled with a few inches of water for 30 minutes to an hour. 

This allows the roots to absorb moisture from the bottom. Afterward, return the plant to its new position with more shade. 

If the leaves don’t recover after a few days, generously water the soil and give it a few more days. If necessary, repeat the sink watering method.

External Factors

ponytail palm drooping

If you determine that external factors, such as temperature, humidity, or sunlight, are causing the drooping, simply adjust the plant’s position to an area where the conditions are more suitable. 

Avoid areas with excessive direct sunlight and ensure the plant receives plenty of bright, indirect light.

Ponytail Palm Drooping: Recovery Time

Recovery time varies depending on the cause of drooping. 

External factors like incorrect sunlight or humidity can lead to prompt recovery within a few days, as long as you provide the appropriate conditions. 

Overwatering may take longer to resolve, and in rare cases of severe root rot, the plant may not recover. Look out for additional symptoms like a soft, discolored trunk if root rot is present.