The ponytail palm, formally known as the Beaucarnea recurvata, has recently grown in popularity as both an indoor and outdoor plant.
Its unique trunking and wide array of foliage make it the perfect plant to switch up your home or garden.
Native to southeastern Mexico, this plant is used to very warm desert environments.
Surprisingly to some, it isn’t actually a palm or even a tree. The ponytail palm is classed as a succulent, akin to a cactus or an aloe plant.
So, you want to add a ponytail palm to your collection of plants but you’re not quite sure if your location will give it the kind of temperature it needs?
Then you definitely came to the right place!
Read on to find out all about the temperature tolerance of a ponytail palm.
What is the temperature tolerance of a ponytail palm?
The perfect temperature for a ponytail palm to thrive ranges from about 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is tolerant to higher temperatures provided that it is watered often, but it doesn’t enjoy temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below the freezing point, it is likely that your plant won’t survive.
The perfect climate for a ponytail palm
The ponytail palm thrives in full yet indirect sunlight, needing at least 8 hours a day to truly thrive. Its ideal daytime temperature ranges from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ponytail palms prefer to be grown in a semi-dry climate, somewhere that is not too humid but also not too dry.
Growing a ponytail palm as an outdoor plant
It is recommended to grow your ponytail palm outside if your location is within the USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
This guidance especially needs to be followed if you are choosing to plant your ponytail palm directly into the ground.
These plants are conditioned to warm temperatures, and won’t enjoy anything under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures below this for a prolonged period of time, such as every night, could result in irreversible damage to your ponytail palm.
Alternatively, you can choose to place your ponytail palm outside in a pot. This is an especially good tactic if you live in an area that experiences bitter winter months.
Keeping your ponytail palm in a movable pot or container means that you can prevent your plant from being affected by colder weather, by being able to bring it inside.
Taking your ponytail palm indoors during the fall and winter and then taking it outside for a summer vacation is a very popular method of plant care among owners.
Growing a ponytail palm as a houseplant
Although ponytail palms require plenty of sunlight, they can be very forgiving, and will still appreciate sunlight during winter if placed in front of a window.
In fact, many have been known to purely grow their ponytail palm as an indoor succulent.
Young ponytail palms are very popular as houseplants. This is because the ponytail palm is a very slow-growing plant, and it can take up to 5 years for it to reach maturity.
How to prevent cold weather damage
There are several ways to prevent cold weather damage to your ponytail palm.
One tip is to cover your palm with a blanket or sheet before a freeze. You can check when a freeze is coming by looking at the weather forecast or the Farmers Almanac.
Another way that you can protect your ponytail palm from being affected by low temperatures is to use an anti-transpirant spray.
This spray creates a film that covers the leaves, that will prevent the loss of water if your plant was to be affected by a freeze.
Adding mulch to the soil around your ponytail palm can also lessen the effects of a winter freeze.
Add a few inches around the base of your plant just before the next scheduled frost. This will prevent the ground around the palm from becoming frozen, which in turn protects the roots.
What to do if your Ponytail palm gets too cold
If the temperature gets below 18 degrees Fahrenheit, your ponytail palm will most likely become damaged.
If your ponytail palm is experiencing cold damage, there are a few things that you can do to revive it.
Symptoms of cold damage in ponytail palms are black or brown leaves and rotten stems that have become mushy to touch.
This is caused by ice crystals rupturing the plant’s tissue.
The first course of action is to prune damaged leaves with a pair of clean shears. Only prune the leaves that are almost completely brown, as leaves that are only minimally damaged are still likely to recover.
Next, spray your ponytail palm with a copper fungicide. This should stop the damaged tissues from becoming diseased and will promote growth during their recovery.
As soon as any chance of frost is over, be sure to use a palm tree fertilizer.
Add the fertilizer to the soil around the base of your palm, and around where you expect the root spread to be.
This will give your ponytail palm the nutrients that it needs to hopefully recover from the frosty conditions.