How to plant yucca?

Garden Detective: Yucca surprises with a giant stalk | The Sacramento Bee

Garden Detective: What’s happening to this yucca? It’s starting to bloom. Robert Andrews

Q: I have had this yucca cactus in my yard for almost 20 years and last month it started to sprout this shaft. It is almost 12 to 13 feet tall. Can you give me any information on this phenomenon?

Robert Andrews,

Rancho Murieta

A: Hopefully, you enjoyed your yucca’s spectacular bloom. Judging from your photo, it appears that your plant is a Yucca whipplei, a native to Southern California mountains and much of the California coast. Nicknamed “Our Lord’s Candle,” it’s a member of the agave family and can have similar growing habits – including that impressive flower stalk.

An evergreen shrub with gray-green leaves, this cold-hardy yucca forms a dense rosette that grows rather slowly for several years. The leaves have needlelike tips that can be very sharp.

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Once the plant reaches its maturity, it sends up a flower shoot such as yours, usually in late spring or early summer. That massive stem can reach 16 feet tall and produces hundreds of creamy-white 1-inch blossoms in long spikes.

After the flowers fade, the stalk gradually browns and becomes woody. The whole plant slowly dies along with its huge flower stalk. But at the base of the mother plant should be offsets, or “pups.” These young plants will replace their parent, basically starting over the whole cycle.

These pups also can be divided and transplanted. Give them some space; the rosettes can reach 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Yucca prefer full sun and good drainage. A low-water shrub, they prefer infrequent deep irrigation; water just once or twice a month after the plants become established.

Garden questions?

Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties. Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to h&[email protected] Please put “Garden Detective” in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact UC Extension directly, call:

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Yucca elephantipes, more commonly called the spineless or soft-tipped yucca, is a fast growing member of the agave family. In fact, it can quickly outgrow its original position in the garden, as seen in our segment.

Don showed how to prune the yucca without ruining its architectural shape. He then used some of the pruned pieces to strike cuttings for other parts of the garden or as potted specimens.

Plant details:

Yucca elephantipes is a small evergreen tree reaching around 9 metres (30′) in the wild, but it is usually smaller in cultivation. It develops a thick, branching trunk which is reminiscent of an elephant’s foot at the base. From summer to autumn it produces white, bell-shaped flowers in large panicles. The spineless yucca is adaptable to a wide range of climates and conditions and is drought, salt and frost tolerant. It can be grown indoors as an architectural pot plant, or outdoors as a landscaping plant. It is suitable for modern, Santa Fe or Mediterranean style houses and landscapes.

Taking your cutting:

In the warmer parts of Australia, yucca cuttings can be taken almost anytime of the year. In the cooler zones like Victoria, take cuttings from December to May.

First, tidy up the clump by stripping the lower leaves off the stems. Stripping the leaves will also prevent the cutting from losing its moisture before the roots grow.

Take your cutting from a mature stem, with brown bark underneath the stripped section. If the bark is cream-coloured, rotting may occur.

The cutting can be taken from any part of the stem. The thickness and length of the stem doesn’t matter.

The foliage at the tip of the cutting does not need pruning.

Allow the stem to dry out for a few days to a week in a shady spot.

After drying out, put the cane in an appropriate-sized pot filled with a free-draining mix. (Don used two parts seed-raising mix to one part river sand.) No hormone powder is necessary.

Keep the pot moist and store in a shady spot with plenty of light. (Tip: make sure you tie the cutting to something after it is potted, as it may fall over in the wind.)

Roots should form in about four weeks. Do not re-pot until you see roots in the drainage holes of the pots.

Further information

Yuccas are readily available at nurseries Australia-wide. Expect to pay from $35 for a 200mm (8″) pot to around $250 for a 2m tall plant.

A 30 litre bag of seed-raising mix costs around $12.
A 25 kg bag of river sand costs about $5.

Growing yuccas

  • Lifestyle

There is no question as to why the yucca has exploded in popularity over the last few years.
Bright green attractive foliage and the ability to withstand long periods of drought make the yucca an excellent choice for just about any home garden. As most species of yucca originate from central America, they thrive in similar conditions which are in most cases not overly difficult to provide.

Yucca climate

The yucca can tolerate a large range of climates including both warmer and cooler, but they prefer higher temperatures, lots of sun and dry air. The only climates that yuccas cannot tolerate are that of extreme cold and wet.

Yucca site

Yuccas prefer full sun and little water, so any location you can provide with these properties is suitable. Yuccas can also be grown indoors providing that they are in an area that is exposed to direct sunlight for at least half of the day. A position that provides shelter from Winter rain should be sought to avoid natural overwatering.

Suitable Soil for yuccas

Due to their intolerance of moisture, yuccas cannot withstand constantly damp soil, and therefore need a well drained bedding. The best soil types for yuccas include sandy gritty soil and regular potting mix, providing that it does not compact too easily. Soil ph balance is best at 5.5 to 7.5.

Propagating yuccas

Yuccas can be propagated by means of both cuttings and seeds. Both methods are considered reliable, but cuttings are probably easier and certainly most preferred. It can take quite a while to propagate yuccas from seed or cutting, so prepare to be patient.

Growing yuccas from cutting

To propagate a new yucca using the cutting method, you will first need to wait until the plant has produced a new shoot. You can use one of the main shoots on the yucca, but this may render the plant unattractive. The chosen shoot should have multiple leaves at least 10 centimeters long. Cut the shoot as close to the main trunk of the yucca as possible.
Remove all of the leaves near the bottom of the stalk, leaving only a few at the top. Dip the base of the stalk in rooting hormone, and bury the base in potting mix. Water the soil, and make sure that the soil stays barely moist on a permanent basis (obviously the soil will be wet after watering each time). Keep the cutting out of direct sunlight as this can ruin any chance of the plant taking.
Yucca cuttings can take anywhere between six to ten weeks to sprout roots and take to their new soil.
Do not re-pot your new yucca until well after the plant has taken to the soil in order to avoid damaging it.

Growing yuccas from seed

Yucca seeds can take up to a year to germinate, although some varieties can sprout within a week or two. Soak your yucca seeds in water for 24 hours before planting.Plant the yucca seeds one centimeter deep in well draining potting mix spaced 10 centimeters apart. The amount of time that the yucca seeds will take to sprout will vary depending on the type of yucca used. Seed packets usually offer general information about propagation.

Growing potted yuccas

Potted yuccas are a common sight in many houses and gardens and are usually just as hardy in a pot as they would be in the ground. Pots chosen for growing a yucca in should have sufficient drainage holes and be no rounder than the the largest leaf ball of the plant. Over-sized pots may cause excess moisture to be retained in the soil leading to root rot and other problems.

Common diseases that affect yucca

Yuccas are commonly affected by a number of fungal diseases. These diseases can have a range of effects on the yucca such as gray or brown spots / patches on the leaves (especially old leaves) or rotting or the stem. These diseases are caused by different types of bacteria. If you see any of these traits in your yucca, remove any affected leaves from both the plant and its surrounding soil and spray the plant with copper fungicide, which can be purchased from most plant nurseries.

Yucca care

Yuccas require very little effort to maintain, making them a great plant for the lazy gardener and are a popular choice for drought affected areas. Aside from watering and a rare dose of fertilizer, yuccas require extremely low care. Dead and unhealthy leaves can be removed as needed to help maintain a yuccas appearance but if left on the plant, these leaves with not cause any health problems.

Watering yuccas

Yuccas originate from very dry areas and therefore do not appreciate a lot of water. It can vary from plant to plant, but most yuccas need no more than a cup of water every week or two when growing in a pot, and more water less frequently when growing in your garden. In winter depending on whether they get any rain or not, yuccas may not require any water at all. In areas with a lot of rainfall you may need to remove your yucca from its designated area and put it in a sheltered area to avoid natural over-watering.
Early signs of an over-watered yucca are lighter green to yellowish coloring of the leaves and rotting of the lower stem near and below the soil.

Fertilizing yuccas

Being a reasonably slow growing plant, a yucca does not require very much fertilizer at all. The most suitable fertilizer for yucca is cactus or yucca fertilizer, although various manures and complete fertilizers can also offer good results. Yuccas should be fertilized in warmer months every month or so using only a verysmall handful of fertilizer. In autumn and winter yuccas require very little fertilizer, usually one or two applications between both seasons will be fine. Faster growing species may require more fertilizer than the amounts shown above.


Tear away any old damaged leaves near the base of the yucca and keep the topsoil around the stem of the plant free of excess mulch to avoid fungal rot. If you choose to remove any of the yuccas off-shoots, be sure to propagate them, it would be a shame to waste a good yucca.

The yucca troubleshooting page may answer any questions you have about yucca health problems.

Yucca plants are gaining popularity as one of the top choices both for indoor and outdoor gardens. Originated from the desert-like environments of the Americas and the Caribbean, Yucca is drought-resistant and famous for being easy to take care of.

Are you interested to know more about growing and having yucca plants in your own space? Read more to know different types of yucca plants and how to take care of them.

Yucca Plants Indoor & Outdoor Types with Pictures

A beautiful plant from its classic green to bluish-colored leaves, there are 40 species of yucca ranging from small shrubby ones to tall tree-like plants.

1. Spineless Yucca

PlantVine Yucca elephantipes, Spineless Yucca – Extra Large – 12-14 Inch Pot (7 Gallon), Live Indoor Plant

  • SIZE: Extra Large
  • INCLUDES GROWER POT: All PlantVine plants are shipped in the grower pot, not bare-root.
  • SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS: Cannot ship to California

Spineless yucca can grow up to 30 feet, hence it is also called as the “Giant Yuca”but it is more commonly grown as a small potted plant and the top variety of yucca used as an indoor plant. Its spineless leaves also gave way to its more common name. Perfect for both indoor and outdoor, Spiness Yucca have thick trunks that can either be a single or multi-trunks. During summer, spineless yucca blooms white flowers that will grow into brown fleshy fruits.

2. Red Yucca

3 Reviews Red Yucca Hesperaloe Parviflora Bush Live Rooted Plant 6-10 Inches Tall Exotic Rare Organic Cold Hardy Drought Resistant Ready for Planting 1 Years Old (3 Plant Pack)

  • Specifications: Hesperaloe Parviflora, Height Growth Average 2-4 Feet, Pot Size 2.5 x 2.5 Inch, Evergreen, Perennial
  • Basic Care: We recommend only watering once the soil goes completely dry. Typically, this plant can handle any sunlight, but make sure to protect from extreme heat. They will also need to be protected from freezing weather as their USDA Zone is 6 or Above.
  • Blooming Season: Growth speed is slow. The duration until the flowering date of this plant may be around 5-10 years, Attracts birds while being resistant to deers.

$21.99 See on Amazon

Named after its pinkish cluster flowers, Red Yucca plants are great additions to outdoor gardens especially when trying to create a striking contrast and texture. Native of northern Mexico and the Chihuahuan desert of Texas, this kind of yucca plant grows like a grass with its long stalks of flowers.

3. Yellow Yucca

The uncommon cousin of the Red Yucca is the Yellow, that is often planted next to each other with the Red Yucca, creating bi-colored gardens. Like the red yucca, its beauty lies on its cluster of trumpet-like yellow flowers that are known to attract hummingbirds. Thus, the yellow and red yucca are also known as, “hummingbird yucca”.

4. Adam’s Needle

Golden Sword Adam’s Needle Aka Yucca Filamentosa ‘Gold Sword’ Live Plant Cactus Plant Fit 01 Gallon Pot

  • Instructions are available for every plant. Send us a message if you need one.
  • No pot include. If you need ones, please email us.
  • Our plants are all organic healthy and strong root system. If you have any concern feel free to send us a message we will do everything we can to help you.

$11.25 See on Amazon

Native to Southeastern USA, Adam’s Needle has been used more than just for landscaping. With its fibrous leaves, Native Americans used its leaf fibers for clothing while its roots were used as shampoos. Its name was derived from its sharp-tipped leaves. A trunkless variety of yucca, Adam’s Needle is grown as a specimen plant or for fire-proof gardens. It is also known for its lantern like-white flowers.

5. Joshua Tree

1 Reviews 15 Exotic Joshua Tree Seeds, Yucca brevifolia Palm, Cold Hardy baccata var.

  • Joshua tree seeds germinate readily and do not require any pre-treatment
  • Plants tolerate temperatures of -13 °F (-25 °C) to 120 °F (51°C)
  • annual precipitation ranges of 3.9 to 10.6 inches (98-268 mm)

$7.98 See on Amazon

The largest variety of yucca plant, Joshua tree was named by Mormon pioneers due to its sturdy tree-like appearance reminded them of the story from the Old Testament of the prophet Joshua, waving in prayer. Growing up to 40 feet and can live up to 150 years (though it can mature in 50-60 years), the Joshua Tree is considered by horticulturists as an exotic variety of yucca. The Joshua tree only grows in the Mojave Desert at the elevation of at least 2,000 ft.

6. Blue Joshua Tree

Yucca Rostrata variety is nicknamed the Blue Joshua Tree due to its resemblance of the tree-like structure of the Joshua Tree. One of the most sought-after outdoor yucca plants, the blue Joshua tree brings instant beauty to any garden with its sharp bluish-purple leaves.

7. Dwarf Joshua Tree

A more common yucca variety is the dwarf Joshua Tree. Looks identical to the Joshua tree but its shorter version – growing to a maximum of only 12 feet compared to the 40-foot Joshua tree. Its branches are also more compacted unlike the spread-like branches of the Joshua tree.

8. Soapweed Yucca

Also known as the Yucca Glauca, this type of yucca planet grows in central North America, as far as some areas of Canada like Alberta and Saskatchewan. As an evergreen shrub, this is great for an all-season landscape plant with its beautiful rosette-forming blue-green leaves. When in bloom, it has green or white fragrant flowers.

9. Spanish Dagger

Another southeastern US native, the Yucca gloriousa or the Spanish Dagger is a favorite outdoor ornamental plant. Its sword-like foliage gave way to its popular name. With its unique growth pattern and flowers, this variety of yucca plant is used in landscaping as an accent or as a background.

10. Beaked Yucca

YUCCA ROSTRATA, rare beaked Big Bend agave garden aloe tree like seed 15 SEEDS

  • YUCCA ROSTRATA, rare beaked Big Bend agave garden aloe tree like seed 15 SEEDS
  • PACKAGE OF 15 SEEDS. Very easy to grow, the seeds were took this season
  • Yucca rostrata has a trunk up to 4.5 meters tall, with a crown of leaves at the top.. Leaves are thin, stiff, up to 60 cm long but rarely more than 15 mm wide, tapering to a sharp point at the tip. The inflorescence is a large panicle 100 cm tall, with white flowers

$4.00 See on Amazon

Also known as the Big Bend Yucca, the Beaked Yucca is characterized as a single trunk yucca with its iconic pom-pom shaped sharp pale bluish leaves. Soft thin gray fibers from its old leaves gives an illusion of a silvery haze. When in bloom, the beaked yucca has a yellow-orange flowers. Considered by many gardeners as one of the most handsome yucca plants, it is widely used in Mediterranean and gravel gardens.

11. Bear Grass Yucca

Nolina nelsonii Blue Bear Grass Hardy Exotic Seeds!

  • Up for bid are seeds of Nolina nelsonii. This great yucca relative gets very exotic evergreen foliage that is a nice blue color. This species also forms trunks over time. The flowers on these are white to yellowish and are in huge clusters held on fairly tall stalks above the foliage.
  • These plants are extremely exotic, yet they are fairly cold hardy. They are hardy to at least USDA zone 7, and possibly colder. These plants would make excellent additions to your rare plant collection, or just make a unique statement in your yard.

$14.00 See on Amazon

Often mistaken as an Adam’s Needle, Bear Grass is one of the few variety of yucca plant that has adopted to extreme cold and even frost. That is why, bear grass yucca also grows in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. Though Bear Grass and Adam’s Needle may look almost the same, bear grass have softer leaves – its name came from the fact that young bears eat their stems. Bear grass yucca also bear head-shaped white flowers.

12. Banana Yucca

ENVIDESO (10 Seed) Yucca Baccata/Blue Banana Yucca/Banana Yucca, anih-Bayonet

  • Package contains one set of seeds
  • (10 seed) yucca baccata/blue banana yucca/banana yucca, anih-bayonet
  • Shippment is of international

Yucca plants have many uses for Native Americans, even food and Banana Yucca is the type of yucca plant that bears edible fruits. Its banana-shaped fruits (thus the name) are fleshy as well as succulent, eaten by Navajo and Apache Indians. Like most yucca plants, its leaves are sharp and they grow flowers in spring.

13. Mojave Yucca

One of the bigger variety of yucca plants is the Mojave Yucca. As it belongs to the same genus as the Joshua tree, Mojave Yucca has a tree-like structure and a distinct cane trunk. Commonly found in Mojave Desert, it can grow up to 16 feet and with its sharp-edged leaves, can be planted in a big pot as an accent to a large open space.

14. Spanish Bayonet

15 Seeds Rare Yucca ALOIFOLIA Spanish Bayonet Agave Garden ECC

  • 15 SEEDS RARE YUCCA ALOIFOLIA Spanish Bayonet agave garden
  • Very easy to grow, the seeds were took this season, ., For additional seeds on the same order the shipping is free, ., We have a lot of extremely rare cactus if you want something rare let me know and I will listing for you.

$14.99 See on Amazon

Another Yucca type that can grow taller at most 15 feet, its long sharp leaves make Spanish Bayonet easy to identify. One of the common yucca plants used in bigger gardens, Spanish Bayonet is also the best choice for seaside garden as this variety is resistant to salty environment.

15. Color Guard

Adam’s Needle aka Yucca FIL. ‘Color Guard’ Live Plant Fit 5 Gallon Pot

  • Instructions are available for every plant. Send us a message if you need one.
  • No pot include. If you need ones, please email us.
  • Our plants are all organic healthy and strong root system. If you have any concern feel free to send us a message we will do everything we can to help you.

$29.99 See on Amazon

One of the varieties of an Adam’s Needle, Color Guard yucca plant are great for both indoor and outdoor use. Like most shrubby-type of yucca, it is great for indoor accents as houseplant while when it matures and grows bigger, Color Guard becomes a good addition outdoor. It is characterized by its varied foliage of yellow bordered with green.

16. Yucca Elata

Commonly known as the Soaptree Yucca, due how its trunk and roots were used as soaps back in the day, the Yucca Elata is one of the tallest kind of yuccas. This plant stands and dwells mostly in the Chihuahuan Desert but now a common sight in elegant gardens. Its palm-like leaves, white flowers, and height that can reach up to 30 feet, make the Yucca Elata a favorite ornamental plant in outdoor gardens.

17. Thompson’s Yucca

ENVIDESO 5 Seed of Yucca Thomponiana Seed – Yucca Hardy Exotic

  • Package contains one set of seeds
  • 5 seed of yucca thomponiana seed – yucca hardy exotic
  • Shippment is of international

With its single or dual trunk and pom-pom shaped foliage, Thompson’s Yucca is often mistaken as a Beak Yucca. However, Thompson’s Yucca is smaller than Beak Yucca and can only reach at most 6 feet tall. Its quite a beauty with its perfect shape and look that will instantly accentuate any space both indoor and outdoor.

Are Yucca Plants Safe for our Family Pet?

While Yucca plants have increasingly gained popularity as an indoor plant, there is one major concern about having them around – it can be harmful to your family pet. Cats and dogs might graze and chew on its leaves and afterward you see constipated, weak, and vomiting. This is because Yucca plant contains steroidal saponins which is toxic to cats and dogs.

Most yucca plant varieties have sharp leaves and hard trunk, making them impossible for your pets to nibble but there is one kind of yucca you have to think if you have pets – the Spineless Yucca. This shrub is one of the most common houseplants around and due to its softer leaves, cats might be drawn to graze on them.

If you see further signs of pet poisoning like incoordination, weakness, and dilated pupils among cats, call your veterinarian or pet poisoning hotline right away.

Yucca Plant Guide: How to Care for Them

One of the reasons people are drawn to buy and take care of yucca plants is their reputation to be low-maintenance. Even for indoor types of yucca plants, people like them as they don’t need much attention or sensitive – the perfect plant for modern and on the go people.

Light for the Yucca Plants

When taking care of Yucca plants indoors, make sure they receive sunlight by placing them in a partly shaded area of your space. They need a bright but indirect light to grow.

Yucca Plant Watering

How often should you water your yucca plant? Since they are native to dry soil and drought-resistant, you don’t have to water them every day. This is the key part of why yuccas are easy to take care of – they don’t need daily splashes. Instead, allow half of the soil to be dry before you water them again.

Overwatering is one of the main reasons a yucca plant dies. If you notice brown ends on the leaves and they are drooping as well as the foul smell from its roots – then you are overwatering your yucca plant.

Soil and Pots

Soil condition is very important when growing a yucca plant. If you didn’t buy your yucca plant is ready-made pot, the right soil for this plant should have a 3:1 sand and peat ratio. Make sure water drains easily where you potted the yucca since they don’t thrive in moist and watery soil.

Yucca Maintenance

For indoor yucca plants, they need some dusting off like sprinkling them with water to remove the dust or you can wipe them gently. For outdoor plants, keep them healthy-looking by removing old and dry leaves.

As slow-growing plants, they don’t frequent fertilizer. A well-balanced nitrogen fertilizer to boost your yucca plant’s health and growth.

Yucca Plant Benefits

Though a favorite houseplant and landscape ornamental plants, yucca plants have served various benefits for centuries, even before the discovery of the New World. Yucca plants have been used by Native Americans as food, shampoo, and weaving baskets from their fruits and flowers, roots, and leaves respectively.

Today, yucca plants are not just praised for their beauty and what they can do to a certain space or garden. Here are some benefits of having a yucca plant.

  • Yucca plant are great air purifiers
  • Yucca plants like those shrubs with sharp leaves can be planted below windows for security purposes.
  • Yucca roots can be processed for its medicinal properties like sugar control, stress reliever, and joint pain remedies.
  • Red and yellow yucca attract hummingbirds, giving more life to your garden.

Caring for your Yucca

With its beauty and low-maintenance, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Yucca plants have gained popularity. Whether you pick a shrub or tree-like variety, Yucca plants are great additions either for indoor or for your garden.

There are plenty of types of yucca and it is wise to pick the right one that suits your taste and purpose. Do you want it indoors only? Then you must pick the spineless kind, while those with bigger outdoor space who want to give their gardens a new look can consider having Spanish Bayonets. Needless to say, yucca plants are versatile in terms of adding personality from a minimalist apartment to a grand garden.

From a simple penchant for yellow flowers as a child to becoming a full-time gardener, nature advocate, and garden designer, I am extremely happy to finally have a platform for me to successfully spread knowledge and expertise in the garden. After highschool graduation, I took many courses related to garden design to feed myself with more knowledge and expertise other than what I learned from my mom growing up. Soon as I finished courses, I gained more experience through internships and most especially, garden shows! I also tried to join as many garden design competitions locally. For any garden design inquiries, ping me!

Yucca Golden Sword

Yucca Golden Sword, commonly known as Needle Palm, is a bushy evergreen shrub with stunning, almost erect sword like leaves of a dark green/ blue colour with a bold centre colour of golden yellow which contrasts perfectly, these usually will droop slightly at the ends which create a dramatic, bushy effect.

When the Yucca Golden Sword flowers in the months of July and August, it produces these tall, almost erect spikes of bell shaped creamy white flowers, which add height to this delicate looking shrub.

This easy to grow but beautiful shrub creates some lovely height to a flower bed or border, often planted in sub-tropical, mediterranean garden scenes, making a perfect accent plant for your garden.

Yucca Golden Sword Care

The Yucca Golden Sword is an easy to grow shrub that thrives in a sunny location of the garden with well drained soils, when flowering, sometimes may require a sheltered position. Requiring minimal pruning makes the Yucca Golden Sword a must for low maintenance gardens, we would recommend pruning once a year but only a light prune, removing any dead or dying foliage which will encourage a more healthy and vigorous growth.

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