If you’ve noticed your ponytail palm turning light green you might be concerned, but is this necessary?
A lot of the time this is simply new leaf growth and is nothing to worry about, but it can also be a sign of nutrient deficiencies or a lack of sunlight amongst other factors.
It’s crucial to understand the difference between these two scenarios, so let’s waste no time and jump straight into it.
When You Shouldn’t Be Worried About A Ponytail Palm Turning Light Green
New leaf growth on a ponytail palm will be lighter in color than the older leaves, and this is perfectly natural.
Over time these leaves will develop and mature, darkening in color until they reach the deep green color that we are all familiar with. The science behind this is that the chloroplasts (the site of photosynthesis) are still developing.
Since chloroplasts contain chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green color of the leaves, it’s only normal that younger leaves appear paler as they don’t contain as much chlorophyll as mature leaves. Science lessons aside, it’s important to look at the leaves that are pale to see if they are old leaves or new ones.
Old leaves turning pale is a sign that something is wrong, but more on this shortly.
When You Should Be Worried About A Ponytail Palm Turning Light Green
As I mentioned before, if the mature leaves are also starting to turn light green and pale then something is wrong with the plant. This can be caused by quite a few factors such as nutrient deficiency, lack of sunlight and many more which I’ll explore in detail below.
Nutrient deficiency is the most common cause of ponytail palms turning light green, and it can be caused by a deficiency of different nutrients such as nitrogen or calcium.
Nitrogen is one of three nutrients that are needed for a fertilizing product to be considered ‘complete’, the others being phosphorus and potassium.
Nitrogen is responsible for leaf growth, and a deficiency in nitrogen can lead to all of the leaves turning light green on a ponytail palm, followed by the yellowing of the older leaves.
Calcium isnt one of the major three nutrients for plants, but it is still very important and can cause leaves to turn light green if your ponytail palm is deficient.
Calcium usually affects new leaves and causes them to become pale and stunted in growth. This is an important distinction to make between new leaves that can be pale anyway, and those that are stunted in growth and deficient in calcium.
Iron deficiency also affects newer leaves, and causes them to appear paler with dark green veins.
Lack Of Sunlight/Too Much Sunlight
Lack of sunlight is another common reason for ponytail palms turning light green. This is because a lack of sunlight reduces photosynthesis, which means the leaves produce less chlorophyll as a result making them paler in color.
Too much sunlight, on the other hand, can stop ponytail palms from photosynthesizing properly which can also make the leaves turn pale. This is why indirect light is the best type of light for ponytail palms.
Water is crucial for ponytail palms, and they need to be watered roughly every 2 weeks during the growing season.
Underwatering can lead to light green leaves as the roots will not be able to transfer enough nutrients to the leaves. As I mentioned earlier, nutrient deficiency is one of the most common causes for the leaves on a ponytail palm to turn light green.
Similarly, overwatering can starve the roots of oxygen which can cause them to die in a short amount of time. This can lead to more complex issues such as root rot, but it will also drastically reduce the amount of nutrients that the roots absorb.
Are The Leaves Turning Light Green Or Actually Turning Yellow?
Sometimes you may think that your ponytail palm is turning light green when, in fact, it is turning yellow.
It’s quite common for the leaves to turn yellow and during the transition to yellow the leaves can be mistaken for being light green. My advice here is to follow the same steps above for when the leaves turn pale green, as it is likely just another case of the conditions not being optimal.
In serious cases, yellowing leaves can be caused by overwatering that has transitioned into root rot. If multiple leaves start to turn yellow and the overall health of the plant starts to decline, check the soil and roots for signs of root rot.
Root rot occurs when the roots are left in standing water for extended periods of time, causing the roots to die due to a lack of oxygen which causes decay and rotting that can spread to other roots.