How to Care for Yucca Plant?
Dubbed as a ‘tree for indoors’, yucca plants are drought-resistant evergreen plants with a good resistance to pests and minimal upkeep requirements.
Because of their razor-sharp leaves and tipped spines, yucca plants are also referred to as Spanish dagger or bayonet.
Thanks to its elegant features, the yucca plant will quickly become the focal point of any room they’re located in.
If you’re considering adding this tree-like plant to your houseplant collection, my guide to caring for yucca houseplants will get you up to speed with the plant’s growing requirements.
Yucca Plant Care Tips
This is an easy-going plant whose maintenance requirements aren’t going to weigh you down. That said, the plant has some peculiarities that you should know about to be able to offer it the best possible care.
Because yucca plants can grow 10 feet tall with leaves as lengthy as 2.5 feet, space is an important factor to consider.
Now, yuccas are slow growing, but still, giving it enough room to grow is something you may want to consider.
If weather in your region permits it, you can move the plant outside once it’s clear it’ll outgrow its allocated space, or you should consider pruning the plant to prevent it from getting too big.
Pruning the yucca plant is easy — remove the plant from its pot and simply determine where the halfway point is on the trunk or pick a point where you wish to prune the plant above the halfway mark. Next, get a saw or a pair of loopers and simply cut at the desired mark.
Replant the rooted end, add plenty of water and you’re done. The leaves will naturally grow back, and you’ll have more space in the location you’re keeping your yucca plant.
Your yucca will develop best out of direct sunlight, but bright indirect sunlight is crucial, nonetheless.
Too much sun will burn the plant causing the tips to brown and white, necrotic spots to develop on the leaves. Without bright indirect sunlight, the plant will grow spindly leaves and will stop blooming.
Because the yucca plant originates from southwestern United States and Mexico, it has a good tolerance to drought. It also doesn’t need a very high-quality soil.
A yucca plant is also pest-resistant but overwatering the plant can kill it easily. And I’m not talking about giving the plant a good soak here and there, I’m referring to watering it too frequently with too much water.
A good rule of thumb when watering this plant is to wait for the top half of the soil to dry out between waterings.
About an inch of water per week during spring-summer is ideal. Less watering is needed in the winter months.
If you overwater the yucca plant, its leaves will turn yellow and its roots will soften.
Temperature & Humidity
Yuccas, depending on their variety, can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. Usually, temperatures lower than 45 F are problematic, but there are some hardy yucca species that can adjust to winter and survive even in freezing temperatures.
As a rule, however, try to avoid exposing your yucca plant to temperatures below 45 F, especially if they’re not suitable for planting outdoors.
Some cold-resistant, hardy yucca varieties include the Yucca glauca, Yucca harrimaniae, Yucca nana (dwarf variety), Yucca filamentosa, and Yucca baccata.
If you’re thinking of planting your yucca plant outside, make sure it’s one of the hardy varieties I mentioned that can withstand or will recover even if exposed to cold temperatures.
I mentioned that yucca plants don’t require any fancy soil. Even so, the soil must meet some requirements for the plant to thrive.
First, it needs to be a well-draining soil, otherwise if the roots are kept in too much moisture, they will rot, and the plant will die.
On the other hand, the soil cannot be very light or it won’t hold the plant in place. I recommend using a mix of sand and peat in a ratio of 3:1. This mixture will help retain some water and some nutrients that are necessary.
Established plants don’t require fertilization, but fertilization can be beneficial to establish a yucca plant, for example, when replanting a yucca pup. If you want to feed an established plant to promote growth, consider doing it only once a month during growing season.
Potting & Repotting
As the plant grows and develops, it becomes top heavy and there’s a risk of tipping over smaller or lighter containers. To prevent this, consider repotting every two years. Repotting should be done in the spring. Choose a heavy container to prevent the plant from tipping over.
Yucca Plant Propagation
Propagation of yucca plants can be achieved in two different ways and both methods should ideally take place in the fall.
The first way to propagate yucca plants (and possibly the easiest way) is by replanting the pups the yucca plant naturally produces.
Wait for the pups to be green to maximize their survivability, then slice them off the main plant and place them in their own container.
Rooting powder may aid the plant in growing roots faster, but roots will grow without the rooting stimulant too.
The second method is by separating the rhizomes and replanting in appropriate soil to establish the plant.
In all propagation cases, be careful with the watering. You can kill the pups and divided plants if they’re kept in excess moisture. Until the plants are established, the soil should be kept only lightly moist.
Different Types of Yucca Plant
Yucca plants come in many varieties. Some are resistant to cold; others are quite sensitive to cold weather conditions.
Here are my top favorite yucca plants:
Yucca Filamentosa (Adam’s Needle)
This yucca variety is one of the cold-resistant ones. It has highly fibrous leaves that were used by Native Americans for clothing. The plant has sharp-tipped leaves and produces beautiful white flowers.
Yucca Glauca Cactus (Soapweed Yucca)
This yucca can be found in some areas of Canada like Alberta and Saskatchewan, so you know it’s cold proof. Its blue-green leaves grow in a pattern to form rosettes and its green or white flowers exude a delicious fragrance.
Yucca Rostrata (Baked Yucca)
This yucca variety is a single-trunked type with large pom pom like leaves and even larger yellow-orange flowers.
Yucca Hesperaloe Parviflora (Red Yucca)
This yucca variety grows like grass and features long-stemmed flower clusters that are pink red. The red yucca is widespread in northern Mexico and the Chihuahuan desert of Texas.
Seen planted next to its cousin, the Red Yucca, this variety features trumpet-like yellow flowers that are loved by hummingbirds, hence the other name for the yellow yucca plant — hummingbird yucca.
If you’re a yucca enthusiast, I am confident you don’t need further encouragement to do some research on the other yucca varieties out there. There are many more varieties with beautiful leaves and flowers.
Yucca Plant FAQs
Here are some questions that frequently pop up regarding yucca plants, perhaps you’ll find out something new about yucca plants that you didn’t know before:
Is the Yuca Plant (one “c”) the Same with the Yucca Plant?
The yuca plant or Cassava plant is not related to yuccas. Cassava plants have edible tubers and roots that are used to make tapioca and cassava flour.
Is the Yucca Plant Toxic?
Yes, the yucca plant is toxic to pets because of their steroidal saponin content that can cause weakness, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea. Keep your yucca plant separate from your pets.
Yucca spines can hurt humans as well, so keep them away from children.
What is the Lifespan of Yucca Plant?
Yucca plants have a lifecycle of 5-7 years.
Are Yucca Plants Prone to Diseases and Pests?
No, yucca plants have a good pest-resistance, however, there are few diseases and pests they may get like cane borers or scale insects. Fungal leaf spots may also appear.
Overhead watering can cause brown leaf spots and the lack of a well-draining soil will cause the stems to rot. Fun fact: yuccas are deer resistant because of their sharp, spiny leaves.
Do Yucca Plants need Pollination to Bloom?
Yes, many yucca varieties rely on pollination by the yucca moth, which is their only pollinator. In turn, the yucca plant is the only host plant for yucca moths. If grown indoors, yucca plants require hand pollination to bloom.
Yucca plants make good indoor plant and some varieties can even be kept outdoors as a decorative all-season plant or tree.
Because of their low maintenance and resistance to common houseplant diseases, this plant is easy to look after.
Yucca plants come in many great varieties, most of which feature fragrant and eye-catching blooms that will light up a room or garden.
Because overwatering is the number one enemy to the health of yucca plants, I encourage you to inform yourself about the specific yucca variety you’ve chosen to grow and make sure you meet its watering and soil requirements to the best of your abilities.