Yucca is a group of about 40 different types of trees, shrubs, and perennial plants.
Yucca gigantea (also called Y. guatemalensis and Y. elephantipes) and Yucca aloifolia are popular houseplants. Yuccas are native to the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
They look like agaves or dragon plants. Some plants grow quickly, up to two feet per year, while others grow slowly, about five inches per year. They can all handle the drought.
Most types of yucca will grow so big that they take over the room, but they grow so slowly that you’ll have many years to use them as houseplants before they do.
Most can also be grown outside in temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and some can even grow in temperatures below zero.
Early in the spring, put them outside. When bringing yucca plants into their homes, pet owners should be careful because all parts of the plant are harmful to dogs and cats (as well as horses).
Growing Outdoor Yucca Plants
Yucca plants come from the Southwest of the United States. They like dry, sandy places like the Great Plains and the desert. They have spread from Florida to New England to the Mississippi River.
They can live in poor, sandy, well-drained soil in full sun and can handle heat, dryness, and salt spray. Yucca plants that grow outside are more likely to bloom regularly than yucca plants that grow inside.
Yuccas shouldn’t be put near paths or sidewalks because the tips of their leaves are sharp and could hurt someone. This plant does best in full sun, but it also needs some shade during the day.
Indoor Yucca Plant Care
When the right conditions are met, it’s not hard to grow yucca plants. They do better with a little bit of care than with a lot.
They easily get too much water.Soggy stems show that there is too much water. They can live for five years indoors and up to 20 to 50 years outside if they are planted in the right way.
The best place for a yucca plant to grow indoors is in a bright area with low humidity. Also, yucca plants don’t get many pests, but scale insects can be a problem every once in a while.
Yucca plants lose their lower leaves over time. In nature, these leaves hang down and form a skirt around the trunk, giving the plant a nice “tree-like” appearance.
Plants like yucca do best in sandy soil. Plant your yucca indoors in a potting mix that is loose and drains well.
Yuccas that don’t need much care don’t need special soil or soil with a lot of different textures. Instead, buy cheap potting soil and add coarse sand and perlite to help the soil drain.
Yuccas don’t like getting too much water. During the growing seasons of spring and summer, water your plant once a week and make sure it drains well and dries out between waterings.
In the winter, you should only water your plants every few weeks (or even less). Don’t put a yucca plant in a tray of water.
Temperature and Humidity
During the growing season, follow the directions on the package to treat your indoor yucca plant with liquid fertilizer or controlled-release fertilizer. Most of the time, once a month is enough.
Types of Yucca Plants
Yuccas are usually found outside in dry places, like the south of the United States, where they grow to their full size. People like to keep two types of animals inside:
- Yucca gigantea, which is also called Yucca guatemalensis and Yucca elephantipes, is a plant with a bulbous base and long, sword-like leaves that don’t have the typical spine at the end. When trees get old, they turn into tiny branches with bare trunks and rosettes of arching leaves on top. They grow slowly, and it will be years before they are too big for their home. By far, this is the most common type of houseplant.
- Yucca aloifolia: This type of yucca is often called the Spanish bayonet because its leaves are stiff and end in sharp points. The leaves can get up to 20 inches long and have sharp points that can kill. In general, this plant shouldn’t be grown in a home where there are young children.
Some common outdoor variations are:
- Banana yucca (Y. baccata): This cactus-like succulent has fleshy, sweet seedpods that range from green to dark purple that are the size and shape of a banana (although they taste more like sweet potatoes).
- Joshua tree (Y. brevifolia): This iconic, slow-growing evergreen is commonly grown in the Mojave Desert in the southwestern United States. It is the largest Yucca species, growing over 30 feet.
- Adam’s needle (Y. filamentosa): A slow-growing broadleaf evergreen shrub, this is a stemless plant with long blade-like leaves.
Pruning Yucca Plant
When yucca plants get too big for the space they are in, you should cut them back. But that’s not what most people do, especially if they usually cut common plants for landscaping. In early spring, trim.
To prune, carefully remove the plant from its pot and use a saw or sharp loppers to cut the trunk in half (long-handled gardening shears). As usual, keep taking care of the plant by repotting the roots and giving it a lot of water.
In just a few weeks, the plant should start to grow new leaves that look like the old ones but are shorter. You could also try to grow a second yucca plant by planting the top part of the first one.
Propagating Yucca Plant
This may give you a second plant. But it’s better to make new plants from divisions or “pups,” which are small shoots. Here’s what you do:
- The fall is the best time to spread something. In the fall, the plant grows more slowly, so it does less damage. Take a fully grown yucca plant out of its pot.
- To make more plants, you can split the rhizomes and replant them in new pots.
- Wait until the pups are green to spread through them. When a puppy is green, it means it can make enough chlorophyll to live on its own. Pale, white pups can’t be taken off the parent plant because they need it to live.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the pup off of the parent plant, leaving a bit of the parent plant’s root with the pup.
- Replace the puppy’s pot with a new one filled with fresh dirt.
- Water the soil well and keep it wet (but not soggy). Puppies should root quickly and begin generating new growth within a few weeks.
Potting and Repotting Yucca Plant
Bigger yucca plants may be hard to repot, but you can give them a fresh start by digging out the top 2 inches of the pot and replacing it with new potting soil.
During a traditional repotting, you can take the yucca plant out of its pot and put it in a bigger pot, always using new potting soil.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Even though yucca plants don’t have a lot of pests, there are a few to watch out for, like aphids and little mealybugs. Agave plant beetles also hurt a lot of yucca plants because they chew holes in the leaves and drink the liquid inside.
If the leaves of your plant have little brown scars, you probably have an agave plant insect infestation. To treat the plant, spray it with insecticidal soap several times until there are no more signs of infection.
Aside from small insect problems, yucca plants can get fungal infections that show up as black patches that spread.
How to Get Yucca to Bloom
Yucca plants are often put in gardens because they have so many beautiful flowers. There are a few things you can do if your yucca doesn’t flower.
First, make sure that your yucca is well fed. If your soil doesn’t have many nutrients, choose a phosphorous-rich fertilizer or bone meal.
Also, if you can, move your plant outside when spring starts, if you can. Most yuccas bloom in the spring and beginning of summer.
A yucca plant may take many years to grow up and start to bloom, so if your plant is still young, be patient and know that it will bloom soon.
Where should I place my yucca plant?
Yucca plants do well in bright light, which makes them perfect for a west-facing window where most other houseplants would die.
What plants are similar to yucca plants?
If you like how a yucca plant looks and how it needs to be cared for, you could try growing a Dracaena plant, which looks similar.
How fast do yucca plants grow?
Some types of yucca grow slowly, especially if they are kept indoors. For example, an indoor yucca plant can live for at least five years without being replanted or trimmed.