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Ponytail Palm Damage - Help Needed!


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Last week, I found a moderate spider mite infestation on two of my calatheas so I treated other plants in the same room, including a beautiful ponytail palm I've been growing for a few years. Long story short, I screwed up my ratio of water and doused my plants in a hefty dose of insecticidal soap and rubbing alcohol which led to softer tissues (mostly new growth and some particularly tender stems) on some plants breaking down in a way similar to cold damage.

Unfortunately, this affected places that stayed wet with the treatment solution too long such as plants that grow their leaves in a rosette pattern. This unfortunately led to the weakening of the leaf tissue on the inner leaves of my ponytail on all three rosettes. Today, with a gentle tug, several layers of inner leaves pulled right out from each rosette. I've heard of ponytails and other palms dying after "spear pull" but from what I gather, this occurs when the spear pull is caused by rotting plant tissue that originates in the stem. In the case of my pony tail the damage was really just on the bottom edge of the leaves where they are in close contact with other leaves. 

If you take a look at the picture, you can see that the center of the rosettes are a nice healthy green. Since what remains appears to be healthy plant tissue, will my ponytail continue to push new growth from the center of the existing rosettes? Or do I need to grit my teeth, trim the trunk down and start again?

Thanks in advance for the help--I'm worried sick! 

IMG_0364.jpg

Edited by beckela18
dragged picture into center of post, dividing up text.
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On 4/8/2024 at 3:05 PM, beckela18 said:

Last week, I found a moderate spider mite infestation on two of my calatheas so I treated other plants in the same room, including a beautiful ponytail palm I've been growing for a few years. Long story short, I screwed up my ratio of water and doused my plants in a hefty dose of insecticidal soap and rubbing alcohol which led to softer tissues (mostly new growth and some particularly tender stems) on some plants breaking down in a way similar to cold damage.

Unfortunately, this affected places that stayed wet with the treatment solution too long such as plants that grow their leaves in a rosette pattern. This unfortunately led to the weakening of the leaf tissue on the inner leaves of my ponytail on all three rosettes. Today, with a gentle tug, several layers of inner leaves pulled right out from each rosette. I've heard of ponytails and other palms dying after "spear pull" but from what I gather, this occurs when the spear pull is caused by rotting plant tissue that originates in the stem. In the case of my pony tail the damage was really just on the bottom edge of the leaves where they are in close contact with other leaves. 

If you take a look at the picture, you can see that the center of the rosettes are a nice healthy green. Since what remains appears to be healthy plant tissue, will my ponytail continue to push new growth from the center of the existing rosettes? Or do I need to grit my teeth, trim the trunk down and start again?

Thanks in advance for the help--I'm worried sick! 

IMG_0364.jpg

To my eye, i think you'll be ok..  Since damage was just to the more tender growth, vs, damage to the woody part of the stem(s), new growth will push out in time, though that set of leaves won't attain the length of un-damaged ones that will follow the damaged ones.

That said, keep a close eye on it to be sure it doesn't start showing signs of rot,  and keep it dry ..maybe near a fan while the tender tissue starts to harden off as it resumes growth  -to lessen the chance that any rot sets in.  See signs of rot? you can use an eye dropper to apply some Hydrogen Peroxide to clean away any dead tissue / sterilize.

Worse case scenario, you'll have to trim off the damaged tips -if that happens-  and let it push out new growth from dormant leaf nodes along the branches.

Ponytails are pretty tough plants. Have seen big specimens where part of the trunk was damaged enough that a large section of the interior had rotted away ( Tissue inside of them is quite spongy btw ) . Remaining portion sealed itself off as it healed,  and kept on growing.

Welcome to the forum btw. :greenthumb:

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