If your ponytail palm top broke off you’re probably wondering why it happened in the first place and what you can do about it.
The most common reason for the top to break off is accidents, but this can become more likely to happen if the plant is overwatered or receives a lack of sunlight.
Let’s take a look at the three most common reasons why this happens, and what you need to do to get your plant back to health.
3 Reasons Why Your Ponytail Palm Top Broke Off
Here are the three main reasons why the top can break off a ponytail palm.
The first (and probably most common) reason for the top breaking off a ponytail palm is due to accidents.
These plants can be tricky to move around, especially if you are moving house. I remember when we first moved our ponytail palm into a new apartment, there must have been several close calls with the top of the plant almost getting broken off.
If you have to move your ponytail palm keep this in mind and take it slow.
Lack Of Sunlight
If your ponytail palm has a long and narrow trunk it can be caused by a lack of sunlight.
Ponytail palms with this shape are more fragile and prone to breakages when compared to mature plants with thick trunk that branches off. To combat this, make sure that you give your ponytail palm plenty of bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day.
Even better, plant it outside if you live in USDA zones 9-12. This will not only ensure that it gets enough sunlight, but it will promote much larger growth than inside which can improve the stability of the plant and make it less prone to breakages.
It’s very easy to overwater a ponytail palm as they don’t require much water at all – roughly once per month in winter (at most) and around once every two weeks (at most) during the growing season.
Overwatering can cause root rot and crown rot, which can turn the trunk of the plant soft. A soft trunk is prone to breaking, which is why it’s important to stick to the guidelines above for how often you should water your ponytail palm.
If the leaves start to change color from the tip this is a good indication that the plant has been overwatered.
3 Easy Steps To Fix A Broken Ponytail Palm
In this section, I’ll focus on breaks that occur on the trunk, as this is more common than breaks that happen on branched-out mature plants.
Cut Below The Breakage Point
If the breakage is accidental, it’s more than likely that the trunk will be in good health. A quick way to check the health of the trunk that I personally use is to squeeze the base of the trunk and compare it to the section just below the breakage.
If they are similar in firmness then you don’t need to cut much lower than right below the breaking point, and this is more for aesthetics than anything else.
If the trunk feels soft to the touch then I recommend checking the rest of the trunk and finding a section where it is firm like the base of the trunk and cutting there instead. In terms of tools, I would opt to use a pruning saw or something similar to create a clean cut.
Use Cinnamon To Treat The Cut
Dusting the cut with cinnamon is a great affordable way to prevent infections and increase recovery time.
Repot If The Trunk Has Turned Soft
If the trunk itself has turned soft then you will need to repot the plant as it is very likely that it has been overwatered and is suffering from crown rot.
Crown rot can be tricky to deal with, but symptoms usually get better once the plant has been repotted in fresh soil. Eliminating crown rot is crucial to prevent the top from breaking off in the future as a healthy trunk will provide much more structural support than a soft trunk.
Will The Top Of A Ponytail Palm Grow Back After Falling Off?
The top can grow back, and when it does so you might notice that more than one ‘top’ or branch develops.
This is common and is a method that ornamental gardeners use to produce three-headed ponytail palms. It’s important to note that this happens when the trunk is small (less than 6 inches in diameter), and if the plant is larger it is less likely for multiple heads to grow.
I’ve included this section to cover other questions that I get asked a lot about ponytail palms and what happens when the top breaks off.
Can Your Root The Broken Section?
Unfortunately, the broken section will not root if you decide to plant it in a different container.
Ponytail palms are instead propagated from ‘pups’ (as well as seeds). Ponytail pups are side shoots that develop as the plant ages and grow from the base of the plant.
These can be removed quite easily with a knife and then planted in a separate pot for propagation.
Can You Reattach The Broken Section?
Once the top has broken off there is little you can do to reattach it, and even if you manage to put it back in place using tape it will not reattach.
What About Branches Breaking Off?
If your ponytail palm has matured and branched off from the main trunk with multiple top sections then it’s very uncommon for one of these branches to break off from the top, as this usually affects smaller plants that are not mature and more susceptible to breakage.
The method is the same in either case however, you just need to form a clean cut and treat it with cinnamon. Over time it will grow back, but don’t expect this to happen quickly.