Elephant foot: brown tips, leaves lose - 10 effective tips

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Elephant foot: brown tips, leaves lose - 10 effective tips: tips

If you are thinking of purchasing a Beaucarnea recurvata, you will be able to look forward to an easily cared for succulent plant that does not place high demands on the soil or fertilizer. But even the elephant's foot is not protected from all disease symptoms, as shown in brown leaf tips and the loss of numerous leaves. The following tips will tackle this problem.

Brown tips - causes

One of the most common problems with the elephant's foot are leaf tips, which turn increasingly brown and no longer look healthy. Since the elephant's foot is actually a really easy-care plant, it can quickly lead to a wrong approach and many gardeners have no idea how they have to proceed against the loss of the green. One of the main aspects of caring for an elephant's foot is the direct imitation of the original living conditions from which the plant originated. It comes from areas that are characterized by tropical, dry forests and in which the storage of water in the trunk is vital. Mexico is one of the countries where Beaucarnea recurvata can be found in the natural environment and grows there together with Pitaya de Tortuga and cacti of the genus Neobuxbaumia scoparia. For this reason, it is important to allow the elephant foot these conditions. The following causes cause brown leaf tips:
  • dousing
  • not enough water
  • waterlogging
  • Age of the plant
  • not enough space
  • cut
  • dust
  • pot size

Pouring and waterlogging

Elephant foot gets brown tips

Probably the most common cause of an elephant's foot, whose leaves turn brown, is an overflow or even waterlogging. Since the plant comes from the dry regions of Mexico, waterlogging in any form is not necessary, because the tree stores water in its trunk, more precisely, the caudex, which is also the inspiration of the name. The thickness of Beaucarnea recurvata is important to enable a healthy growth as it can grow to a height of nine meters. If too much water accumulates and can not process it, it causes a decay of the roots. Against waterlogging, something should be done immediately, otherwise threatening the death of the plant, which can rot from the inside and can not regenerate. Although the tree always needs some water, especially if it is very dry in winter, there can be problems with over-pouring, which can seriously affect the elephant's foot.

Not enough water

Just as Beaucarnea recurvata does not tolerate too much water, it should not dry out. Due to its water reservoir, it is prepared for long-lasting, but that is no guarantee for the plant to go through to the last drop. The warmer and drier it gets, the more water the plant needs and the more it accesses the reserves in its trunk. If you forget to water the plant enough, the entire root ball can dry out and then the plant is beyond saving.
Tip: If you are worried about over-pouring but want to keep your elephant's foot from drying out, spray the leaves twice a week. This prevents dehydration and does not overload the roots with excessive moisture.

Old elephant feet

The elephant's foot belongs with its sturdiness and robust growth to the trees, which can provide itself for a long time. It also works with the leaves, because the tree needs no real pruning. The old leaves naturally turn brown over time and are replaced by fresh green leaves. This is the normal rhythm of the plant and for this reason it can happen that with increasing age of the elephant foot too many brown leaf tips comes. Here, however, a distinction must be made between forming new leaves and staining due to a health deficiency. Healthy brown leaves can be recognized by the fact that they discolour slowly and do not appear too suddenly. You could say the leaves are turning at a nice pace. If new leaves are formed along the way, be on the safe side that it is an age-related condition.

lack of space

Elephant foot has too little space

Lack of space is a common cause of brown leaf tips, because the elephant foot needs a lot of space to unfold in a relaxed manner. In addition to the pot size, the space is crucial, which is granted to the leaves, because they must not be disturbed by obstacles or walls. The impact of the leaves on walls, ceilings, stairs, railings or the like is not good for the leaf tips, which should neither bend nor narrow.This is because succulent plants, including, for example, aloe vera, provide their leaves, branches and trunk with plenty of moisture and thus can withstand the dry temperatures in the heat of Mexico. However, the natural flow of moisture within the plant is disturbed, there is an excess in certain areas and the leaf tips begin to discolor. The freer the elephant tree stands, the better it is for the "Ponytail Palm".

The flowerpot

A lack of nutrients is also a cause of brown leaf tips, which is rather rare. Fertilizer tolerates the plant in small quantities and that is often the pot size is the cause of the condition. If the pot is chosen too small or the plant has not yet been repotted, the root ball can no longer absorb enough nutrients, which presents itself in brown tips. Therefore, you should always choose a larger pot in which the plant itself still fits in growing.
Tip: When you plant the elephant foot in the garden, you do not really have to pay attention to a pot size. However, Beaucarnea recurvata is particularly suitable as a specimen plant, as the tree always has enough space to grow.


If you had to cut the leaves due to previous problems with the plant, it may affect the color. Actually all elephant feet turn brown through the cut, but this is a shade of brown that stands for a regeneration phase. Therefore, you do not have to worry about editing unless you cut off too much.


Elephant's foot dirty with dust

The elephant's foot is relatively sensitive to dust and should therefore always be wiped off. If too much dust forms, pests are attracted or the plant can no longer breathe properly, causing discoloration. Tip: By wiping the leaves, the elephant's foot even absorbs moisture and thus has to be less cast.

Elephant foot loses leaves - causes

While discoloring the leaf tips is easy to fix, it can be too late if the leaves are lost or the elephant foot needs immediate help. The loss of leaves is mainly due to lighter leaves, which either break or with time. Many of the above causes can also be found in the loss of leaves, but other points are visible that can greatly reduce the health of Beaucarnea recurvata:
  • Not enough light
  • Earth not enough
  • Affected by spider mites
  • humidity
The elephant foot needs a lot of light and should be best placed on a south-facing window or on a balcony that is always aligned with the sun. Likewise in the garden, because he does not tolerate shadows at all. If the soil is too dense, the roots may suffer because Beaucarnea recurvata prefers to stay in a loose soil in order not to absorb too much water and to get enough oxygen. If the humidity is too high, this also affects the health of the leaves, as they may attract spider mites, which like to live in human living spaces. The infestation by the mites is noticeable in numerous spider threads and nets on the leaves and the leaves almost break off from the trunk. Tip: Elephant foot loves dry homes, even in winter. Only here should never the temperature fall below 8┬░ C, otherwise the leaves may freeze.

Tips against brown leaf tips and leaf loss

If your elephant foot has any of the above symptoms, you should do something about it immediately. Although the plant is very easy to care for and pardons mistakes, over time this can result in a sudden loss of the "ponytail palm". But with the following tips you are well prepared.

Tip 1: If you have doused the elephant's foot, you should refrain from watering for a while. The plant withstands dry periods of up to four weeks, especially in autumn and winter, and therefore only needs regular watering when the soil is really bone-dry.

Tip 2: If it comes to waterlogging, the elephant foot must be repotted immediately, because within a few days the entire root ball can rot. Take the plant out of the pot and use a sharp knife to remove the rotten spots and then place the elephant's foot in fresh, well drained soil where it can dry.

Tip 3: Do not forget to water the plant regularly. Here it helps to orient oneself in the pot on the ground and the hotter and sunnier it is outside, the more frequently the elephant's foot has to be cast, similar to a cactus or aloe vera.

Tip 4: Brown leaf tips can be prevented with a location that is either elevated or in sufficient distance from walls and ceilings. Be careful not to place the elephant foot near the heater.The heating air is not necessarily bad for Beaucarnea recurvata, but heat can have a negative effect on the fresh leaves, which can dry up and fall off.

Tip 5: Twice a week, wipe the leaves of the elephant's foot with a damp cloth to remove dust from the plant. This allows the elephant foot to breathe freely.

Elephant foot gets lost leaves

Tip 6: Pay attention to the size of the pot and adjust it to the size of the root ball. Here it is advisable to leave enough space to the edge to support the fairly rapid growth of the vigorous plant.

Tip 7: The humidity is crucial for the elephant foot, as the asparagus plant comes from the tropical regions of the earth. If the humidity is too low, the tips of the leaves and the entire leaf may suffer as a result and may be affected by spider mites, as they do not like high humidity. Ideal humidity is between 50 to 75 percent.

Tip 8: Choose a sunny location for the elephant foot. Enough light will make this tree amazing, and if you live in a region that has very little light in winter, use a daylight lamp to treat Beaucarnea recurvata with enough light.

Tip 9: If you want to cut off brown leaf tips, which is perfectly ok to contain the previous damage, you should be very careful. Choose a sharp and clean pair of scissors and cut as little as possible. Never too much, otherwise you could injure healthy leaves, which then fall off. Never cut into healthy green, even if this is too long for your taste, because elephant feet tolerate a pruning extremely poor and is not recommended.

Tip 10: If you want your elephant foot more robust, you should not use fertilizer in winter and hardly pour it. So the leaves stay healthy and in the new year they are even stronger and healthier.

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