The ponytail palm, also known as the Beaucarnea recurvata, is a succulent native to Mexico. Ponytail palms are popular houseplants because of their unique appearance and easy care. But sometimes, ponytail palm leaves can turn brown. If you’re wondering why is my ponytail palm leaves turning brown? There are a few possible reasons.

In this blog post, I’ll look at some of the most common causes of brown leaves on ponytail palms and how to remedy the problem. Keep reading to learn more!

Why are the leaves of the ponytail palm turning brown?

Ponytail palms are a popular landscape plant found in many yards and gardens. They are grown for their beautiful, long, palm-like leaves that are used to create a natural border or screening feature. Over time, the leaves on some ponytail palms may turn brown and die. There is no one answer as to why this might happen, but it is likely due to several factors, including:

Poor light conditions 

Poor light conditions can cause the hair on your ponytail palm leaves to turn brown. The browning results from the leaves not getting enough light to produce chlorophyll, which gives them their green color. When the light conditions are poor, the leaves don’t have enough energy to make pigments and start to turn brown.

Overwatering or underwatering

Overwatering is when a plant gets too much water in its soil. This can happen if the plant is placed in a container that has a hole in the bottom or if more water than needed is poured onto the plant. Underwatering is when a plant does not get enough water. This can happen if the soil remains dry for long periods or water leaks from the pot or container. Overwatering and underwatering can cause the leaves on a ponytail palm to turn brown.

Fertilizing issues 

Ponytail palm leaves are susceptible to fertilizing issues that can cause them to turn brown. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the main nutrients that need to be balanced in the soil for this plant to thrive.

Too much nitrogen can make leaves turn green, and flowers bloom early, while too much phosphorus can make leaves hard and cause them to fall off.

Over-fertilization with potassium can cause leaves to turn yellow and die. You can keep your leaves from turning brown by checking your fertilizer levels and ensuring your ponytail palm has the right balance.

Nutrient deficiency 

If you have a ponytail palm tree, the leaves are likely turning brown because of a nutrient deficiency. Normally, the leaves on a ponytail palm are bright green and glossy, but they may start to turn brown and dry out over time. This is likely due to a lack of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium nutrients. When these nutrients are unavailable to the plant, it will break down existing tissues to get the needed resources. This can lead to browning and the eventual death of the leaves.

Soil issues 

Ponytail palm leaves can turn brown and die due to a soil issue. The palm is a tropical plant that needs well-drained soil to grow properly. When the soil is heavy, waterlogged, or has other issues, it cannot take in enough water to help the palm grow. The excess water sitting on the soil’s surface causes roots on the palm to rot. This rotting process leaves the palm unable to absorb nutrients, leading to the leaves turning brown and eventually dying.

Humidity issues 

The leaves on a ponytail palm are susceptible to browning and wilting when the humidity levels in the air rise. The leaves cannot take up water from the air and other plants, making them dehydrated. When the humidity levels in the air rise, it contributes to “salt stress,” which can cause other plant tissue to die.

Temperature fluctuations 

Temperature fluctuations can cause your ponytail palm leaves to turn brown. When the temperature is higher, the leaves will expand, and when the temperature is lower, the leaves will contract. This causes stress on the plant cells and can lead to browning.

Pest infestation 

Pests can cause any plant to experience damage, but they are particularly destructive to palms. These pests attack the plant through its roots and leaves, causing them to turn brown and die. Many pests can cause this damage, but the most common culprit is the palm weevil.

The palm weevil is a small, reddish-brown beetle that lives in tropical and subtropical climates. It attacks palms by burrowing into their roots and feeding on their sap. This destructive behavior causes the palm’s leaves to turn brown and fall off, eventually killing the palm. 

Root rot 

Root rot is a fungal disease that affects plants and can cause them to turn yellow, brown, or black. The fungus lives in the soil and attacks the roots of the plant. The first sign of root rot is often a decrease in growth, followed by wilting and eventual plant death. It is most commonly found in not well-watered plants or has poor soil conditions. Ponytail palm is susceptible to root rot because long roots easily reach moist soil. 

Ponytail palm problems

Ponytail palms are easy to grow and kept small by pruning them regularly. However, several varieties of ponytail palms can have different problems.

The two most common problems with ponytail palms are brown palm leaves and yellowing leaves. Brown palm leaves usually occur when the tree is overgrown. They turn brown or black due to the accumulation of oils and other chemicals in the leaf tissues. Yellowing leaves usually occur when the trees get too much sunlight. They turn yellow or green due to chlorophyll accumulation in the leaf cells.

There is no cure for either of these problems, but pruning the tree regularly and watering it well will help prevent them from becoming too severe.

What do I do when my palm tree leaves turn brown?

Many things can cause the leaves on a ponytail palm to turn brown. Ponytail palms often get brown leaves because their nutrient system isn’t working right. They aren’t getting enough water, they are getting too much nitrogen fertilizer, or they don’t get enough sunlight. To fix a ponytail palm with brown leaves, you’ll need to figure out what’s causing the problem and fix it. Here are some ways to improve a ponytail palm with brown leaves:

  • Check your ponytail palm’s nutrient system. If your ponytail palm misses one or more essential nutrients, the leaves will likely turn brown. Make sure to add a balanced fertilizer to your plant’s soil and water it properly to get all the nutrients it needs.
  • Water your ponytail palm properly. If you water too much, the roots can rot, turning the leaves brown. Make sure to water your ponytail palm deeply and evenly every day, and don’t let the soil dry out in between waterings.
  • Give your ponytail palm light. The leaves will turn brown if your ponytail palm isn’t getting enough light. Put your hand in a place that gets a lot of sunlight during the day.
  • Remove the brown leaves from your ponytail palm. If you can’t remove the leaves from the plant, you can cut them off at the stem with a sharp knife or pruning shears.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I cut brown leaves off Ponytail Palm?

There are a few reasons why your Ponytail Palm might show signs of brown leaves. The first possibility is that the palm is experiencing a dry season, which can cause the leaves to be brown and fall off. The second possibility is that there may be a fungus or other pest attacking the palm and attacking the leaves. If you notice any of these signs, you might want to take action and cut off the brown leaves.

How often do you water a Ponytail Palm?

A ponytail palm is a palm tree that grows in warmer climates. The leaves on these palms often turn brown and dry out because they are not watered enough. The goal is to water the palm tree every two weeks to keep the leaves healthy and hydrated.

How do you revive a dying Ponytail Palm?

There are a few reasons why a Ponytail Palm may be dying.

  • One possibility is that the plant is getting too much water, causing it to overhydrate and rot.
  • Another possibility is that the plant is not getting enough light, leading to photosynthesis problems and a weakened stem.

If the cause of death is determined, various methods are available to revive the palm. Sometimes simply watering and fertilizing will do the trick. At the same time, more drastic measures may be necessary, such as moving the palm to a brighter location or giving it some special fertilizer designed specifically for palms.

Can brown leaves turn green again?

The leaves on your ponytail palm may turn brown because of a lack of water. Over time, the leaves will not be able to absorb water and will start to die. The leaves may turn green again if you give your palm enough water.

Why is my plant stem turning brown?

There are a few reasons why your plant stem may be turning brown.

  • One possibility is that the plant is losing water due to a leaky pipe or faucet. If this is the case, you must correct the issue immediately.
  • Another potential cause of stem browning is excessive fertilizer use. Over-fertilizing can deplete the soil of vital nutrients, leading to wilting and leaf browning.
  • Finally, damage to the plant’s root system, such as from a weed or pests, can cause stem browning and loss of leaves.

If you notice any of these signs in your plants, take action immediately to correct the problem so that your plants can continue thriving!


In conclusion, brown leaves on ponytail palm plants may be caused by several factors, including too much water or fertilizer, too much heat or direct sunlight, and dead leaves that need to be removed. If you notice this problem happening, there are a few things that you can do to help the plant revive its leaves. Following simple guidelines can help ensure that your ponytail palm remains lush and green.