How to plant yuccas?

Yucca Propagation Methods

The yucca plant species encompasses up to 50 different shrubs, perennials, and trees in the agave family of plants. Yuccas are notable for their rosettes of very green, sword like leaves, and large cluster of white flowers. They are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens and can even contain edible berries, seeds, and fruits.

There are several different methods for propagating the Yucca plant. Because of the ease of starting and growing the plant, the Yucca is a favorite from Canada to South America. Here are a few of the most basic methods for propagating Yucca plants.

1. Propagation by Seed

Getting your Yucca started from seed is a very popular and successful method. To propagate with seeds place them in a small flat dish and cover with some cactus-friendly soil. Water in moderation and make sure they do not get too wet. The seeds will germinate within three weeks, but will take five months to grow full leaves.

2. Propagation by Transplanting

The best time to do any transplanting of the Yucca is when the seeds are still young. At one to two years the root system is established to it makes the moving more stressful on the plant. After a few months of growing from seeds, it is safe to transplant to a different pot or to the ground. However, frequent transplants into larger pots will induce fast and steady growth.

3. Propagation by Offshoots

Once the Yucca is established in the ground, or in a large pot, it will begin to develop offshoots or smaller buds. Propagating offshoots is a very simple process that requires simply removing the offshoot and planting in soil. Offshoots can be removed at any time from the parent plant by carefully cutting, or digging, around it. Remove the pups and plant in their own soil.

4. Propagation by Cutting

Using stem cuttings to propagate your Yucca plants is another very easy and popular method. These cuttings should be taken during the growing season and set immediately into a soil mixture for roots to develop. You can also take the stem cuttings with or without leaves. For the best results remove the bottom leaves of the stem before planting. This method is most successful in humid areas because the plant will have a hard time in drier areas. It usually takes two to three months for the root formation to be completed. Keep the soil moist during this time, but not too saturated.

5. Propagation by Bulbils

Bulbils are quite similar to baby pups of the plant. They form on the axillary buds between the stem and leaves. They can be removed at any time prior to them falling on the ground so you get the best chance of developing a root system. Place the bulbil in a sandy mixture and keep it moist. These will set roots quite quickly and can be ready for planting in pots within eight weeks. After they have been transplanted into pots they will continue to grow very quickly, doubling in size within a short period of time.

If the yucca palm has enough room, its leaves will grow widely and the plant shows itself in all its glory. But if the plant is well-cared for and under ideal conditions, it can quickly reach the ceiling and you will have to trim it. The following directions will show you how to trim the yucca palm, cut leaves and gain cuttings.

Why the cutting?

Caring for a plant also includes trimming it. There are a few different situations for that: you do have to regularly cut brown and yellow leaves. The plant will grow stronger from that, since it only has to care for healthy leaves once the others have been cut off. If it has grown too big, it has to be cut, too. To do this, smaller and bigger parts of the plants have to be cut off.

Really grave situations can occur, if the stem has already started to bend and won’t grow properly upwards anymore. The stem can turn back to the main stem and connate with it. Therefore it’s quite important that you act timely and give the plant enough space to grow. Cut-off yucca parts can be used as cuttings and new palms can be cultivated with little effort. They also breed quite effortlessly.

When the trimming?

When do you have to trim the Yucca Palm?

Leaves shouldn’t bump against the window since sunlight can cause burning. If the plant has already grown so big that you cannot avoid this situation, you definitely have to trim it. If the stem has grown crooked, the balance can be thrown off and the palm cannot stand on its own, since one side is overweight. This is another case in which you have to trim it. At last, optical reasons can apply: By trimming it, the desired form can be gained. Above the yucca, enough place should be left so that it can grow freely. Directions for Trimming and Breeding with Cuttings.

Ideal Time for Trimming: Spring

Yucca palms should ideally be trimmed during the spring. If you feel spring coming and if the weather is sunny and warm, the perfect time for planting cuttings has come. You do have to consider that the plant has to adapt to the sun, after the darker months. If the first spring sun appears you should wait about 14 days, so that the yucca palm can get used to the new conditions. If the change is too drastic you have to care for a short-time darkening. For this the location and intensity of the sun is important. We generally advise you to trim the yucca palm once a year and gain cuttings through this.

Can the Palm also be trimmed during the Summer or Winter?

You can essentially trim the yucca palm during other seasons than spring. But the plant sprouts quicker during the spring and also grows better, so that many choose this time. Especially the trimming of big parts from the main stem acts as a burden for the yucca and it reaches its maximum strength during the spring.

You should always check that there’s a strong root ball, so that the plant can absorb enough water and nutrients from the soil and get stronger. Diseased plants, or yuccas with a small root ball, should preferably not be trimmed, they have to go through a phase of recovery first. On the other hand, rotten leaves are also a burden and have to be cut off.


Tools and Aids for Trimming:

  • clay pots and saucers
  • 20 litres flower soil
  • 1 can grafting wax
  • 1 knife from the garden centre or a fret saw
  • bread knife
  • smaller knife
  • water
  • watering can
  • ladder

Alternatives: The yucca palm’s stem can be quite thick and woody. You have to get a good knife, especially for safety reasons. Working on it can be simple and quick, but this comes with the danger of slipping off. You can theoretically use a sturdy household knife, but only if the cutting surface has a serrated edge. A fret saw is an inexpensive alternative and often already exists in households. Two different Possibilities: Growing in Soil and the Root’s Development in Water.

There are basically two different possibilities of breeding the plant. The classic way is to put the palm into water, so that the roots can sprout. But this also comes with the risk of rotting, which is high for yucca palms. We therefore advise you to grow the cuttings in soil. In both cases no guarantee is given that the breeding succeeds, but chances are high. The method of planting it directly into the earth has proven itself and increases your chances of success.


Trimming the Yucca Palm

To begin with, a big part of the palm has to be cut off. You should leave a bit of greenery on the stem so that the look remains. The cut-off part can also be divided again, if it’s big enough. The upper cuttings have to be coated with grafting wax, it can easily be spread with a knife and prevents the cuttings from drying out. The wax is thick, similar to honey and can be spread without any problems.


Planting the Cuttings

Lower leaves on the cut-off parts has to be cut with a household knife. If they were to stay and touch the soil, they can rot. The plant parts can now be put into a clay pot, which has been filled with flower soil. To cater for enough footing, the stump should be put at least 5 centimetres into the soil and adpressed. After that, the plant has to be watered with lukewarm water.


Caring for the big Plant

After trimming the Yucca Palm you will have to bring it into its ideal condition. All undesired parts have to be cut off, but be careful. You mustn’t cut too many twigs, since the plant will be strained by this. If parts touch the ceiling, the walls or window, you definitely have to trim it. If the cuttings have the right size, they can be planted into the ground, to grow new palms. After that, you do have to apply grafting wax onto all cut surfaces.

Trimming the Leaves

If the plant has developed brown, or yellow leaves, they should be trimmed. Simply pulling them off won’t be possible. If they have dried, you can try pulling them off, but be careful not to harm the stem. Unattractive, yellow leaves can be easily cut off with a household knife. The plant will be brought back to looking great and you can concentrate on healthy leaves.

Growing Cuttings: How long will it take?

Growing the cuttings can take several weeks, but if it goes smoothly, success is on your side. Chances are high that your intentions will work out. If moving the plant will cause it to break off, the resulting cuttings can also be planted. A home-grown yucca palm can be used in your conservatory, or as a present for friends.

Maintenance during the first Weeks

The soil inside the cutting’s pots has to be kept moist. Therefore, during the first weeks, the plants have to be watered regularly, but you should avoid water-logging. A specifically placed hole on the pot’s bottom should be sufficient in draining off the excess water. Plants should also not be watered in a gushing way, but slowly. Only if the water has seeped away into the soil, you can continue watering. By this, you can find the right amount and the roots can absorb the water in a better way.

Tip: If you put a pebble into the hole, less earth will escape through it.

Minimum Height for Planted Pieces

It is advised that plant parts have to be at least 30 centimetres. If they are too short, the new yucca palm cannot grow its twigs sufficiently and the growth will be hindered. If you look closely, small holes can be made out on the stem, they are called „sleeping eyes“. Every cutting should have one of those. If minimum height has been complied with, chances are bigger that there are „sleeping eyes“.

Grafting Wax for sealing

What is Grafting Wax?

Grafting wax is used to seal the cuttings during grafting and tree cuttings. It is also used in the private sector and for agricultural fruit-growing. High-quality grafting wax is created with a fungicidal resin and wax combination. I can be applied with a spatula, or knife. The product should also be plant compatible. If the palm is outside you house, the grafting wax’s resistance to weather is also important.

A few means are concentrated with fungicides, they prevent a possible fungal infection. Grafting wax can also be purchased in solid form. In this case, you have to heat it up. The plant has to be dipped headfirst into the liquid wax, so this method isn’t made for trimming the yucca palm.

Can grafting wax also be made by yourself?

Grafting wax can also be made at home.

This is a possible recipe:

  • 1 kilogram pitch
  • 150 grams alcohol
  • 75 gram beeswax
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil

No matter if bought or made at home, you have to be careful with grafting wax. It is poisonous and mustn’t be eaten. You should be especially careful if there are kids around. Since the yucca palm is usually cut at the top, this provides some safety, but you have to make sure that the wax won’t drip or run down.

Are there Alternatives to Grafting Wax?

If you don’t want to use grafting wax, you can use normal candle wax. It’s not as poisonous, which is a plus for households with children. Just light the candle, so that the wax can melt slowly. Hold the candle skewed, so that the wax drops down onto the cutting surface. After a short time, the wax will cool down and the cut surface is sealed. Since the wax has to become liquid beforehand, it takes some time to cover the whole cut surface.

Seal the Cut Surface

How long does the Wax stay on the Cut Surface?

You should generally aim for keeping the wax on the plant as long as possible. Sometimes you need to reapply it, if it bursts. If moisture would enter the cut surface, the stem could swell up, since it absorbs the water. The yucca palm is quite different in this point to other trees, the stem can rot really easily, if water enters, and the plant can be irreversibly damaged in the worst case.

Costs for breeding

How much does Breeding via Cuttings cost?

We usually assume that some means are available at the household. If that’s the case, the following costs will occur.

  • clay pots with saucers: 1€
  • 20 litres flower soil: 3€
  • 1 can grafting wax: 9€
  • 1 knife from the garden centre (20€) or fret saw (5€)
  • Final costs: 18 to 37€

The more cuttings you want to gain, the higher the cost. Often older flower pots are present that can be used again. A big part of the costs is the grafting wax. To seal everything, you usually don’t need a whole can, so you can keep the rest and reuse it. Candle wax, or homemade grafting wax is cheaper and a good alternative.

How to Plant Yucca Root

yucca en fleurs image by MONIQUE POUZET from

Yuccas (Yucca spp.) are succulents that grow in harsh conditions. The yucca’s native environment consists of arid conditions with low rainfall and poor soil. The stiff, leathery leaves are armed with prickly spines. The leaves emerge from a trunk and are dark green to pale blue. This low-maintenance plant is used for ground covers, bedding plants, container plants, shrubs and specimen plants. Yuccas are popular for their dramatic forms and unusual shapes. They are a natural choice for desert scenes. The best time to plant a yucca root is from March until May before new growth begins.

Remove weeds and debris from the planting site. Locate the site in an area with full sun, which is six hours or more of direct sunlight. Remove large rocks and sticks from the area.

Dig the soil up with a shovel to a depth of 24 inches. Turn the dirt over and break up any large dirt clumps. Spread a 3- to 6-inch layer of sand over the planting area. Mix it into the loose soil.

Spread a 3-inch layer of peat moss and mix it into the top 12 inches of soil. This gives the soil a good dose of organic materials. Dig a hole the same size as the yucca roots.

Remove the yucca root from its container and prune off any injured roots with pruning shears. Do not prune off any of the top while planting. Place the yucca roots in the hole and cover with soil.

Firm the soil around the yucca plant. Drape a lightweight, see-through cloth over the above-ground part of the yucca. This keeps the yucca from overexposure to sunlight while it is establishing its roots. Keep the cloth in place until new growth appears.

Propagation Of Yucca Plant

Yucca plants are a popular choice in a xeriscape landscape. They are also popular houseplants. Learning how to do the propagation of a yucca plant is an excellent way to increase the number of yuccas in your yard or home.

Yucca Plant Cutting Propagation

One of the more popular choices is to take cuttings from yucca plants. Your yucca plant cutting should be taken from mature growth rather than new growth as mature wood is less prone to rot. Cuttings should ideally be taken in the spring, though they can be taken into the summer if needed.

Use sharp, clean shears to cut at least 3 inches (or more) from the plant as the cutting.

Once you take the cutting, strip all but the top few leaves away from the cutting. This will reduce the amount of moisture lost from the plant while it grows new roots.

Take your yucca plant cutting and place in it a cool, shady place for a few days. This will allow the cutting to dry out some and will encourage better rooting.

Then place the yucca plant cutting in some potting soil. Put it in a place where is will get indirect light. The propagation of the yucca plant will be complete when the cutting grows roots, which happens in about three to four weeks.

Yucca Seed Propagation

Planting yucca seed is another possible way to do yucca tree propagation. Yuccas grow easily from seed.

You will get the best results planting yucca seed if you scar the seed first. Scarring the seed means that you gently rub the seed with some sandpaper or a file to “scar” the seed coating.

After you do this, plant the seeds in a well draining potting mix, like a cactus mix. Plant the seeds one to two seed lengths deep in the soil. Place the plant in a sunny, warm place. Water the soil until you see seedlings in about one to two weeks. If you do not see seedlings in this time, allow the soil to dry out completely and resume watering.

Whether you decide to try a yucca plant cutting or planting yucca seed, yucca plants are very easy to propagate.

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