I have a ponytail tree plant. The new growth look anemic, pale and thin. And several leave have browned from the midway to the ends of the leaves. The stem is woody and firm. Though it is in a solid pot, the soil tests dry, and there seems to be reasonable space for root growth. I have just moved it so it can get eastern morning sun for several hours. I have tested the pH of the soil and it tested to be a pH of 4.0. Can someone help me diagnose and treat my plant.

Thank you.

top view trunk and pot

  • $\begingroup$ could you add a picture? $\endgroup$ May 26, 2016 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


That's a super low pH, and I kinda doubt it's real. If you used a cheap home test, it's more likely analytic error (not necessarily your fault, it's just a hard thing to measure) than a real result. 4.0 pH is lower than most plants can tolerate--it's in the range of vinegar. Most plants (I have no experience with this species) prefer a slightly acidic soil, ~6.8pH. So, if your pH is really 4.0, then that's almost certainly a problem. It messes up the cation-exchange capacity of the soil, so even if you fertilize, the plant can't access the nutrients.

You can easily amend with some lime--if you don't want to dig it up, you can just scratch it into the top of the soil, and water through it. It will leech down through the pot. Hope that helps.

  • $\begingroup$ I used a Dr Meter soil survey instrument $\endgroup$ May 27, 2016 at 0:51
  • $\begingroup$ Although pH 4 is low, it's not impossible. Natural sandy soils in my country can have a pH even below 4 (with aluminium toxicity as result). I agree that liming could work here though. $\endgroup$
    – RHA
    May 27, 2016 at 21:38

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