|Planting tips for ponytail palm seems to indicate a hole three times
the root ball with mulch around the root ball. Does that mean no
soil , only mulch around the sides and underneath? if so what kind of mulch?
No use potting soil or if you are planting it in the ground use soil from digging the planting hole. Just don't plant the ponytail palm too deep, but rather at the same depth it was growing previously. You can mulch the soil surface after planting but don't pile it up deeply against the plant's base.
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