Yucca is a genus of highly drought-tolerant evergreen perennials that grow either as shrubs or small trees, requiring minimum care. Suitable for growing in hot, dry, and coastal regions, it can survive through snowy winters as well. The plant blooms once every year from July to August, depending on the variety grown, making an attractive houseplant.
Types of Yucca Plants
The genus includes 40-50 perennial trees and shrubs, with the most popular varieties mentioned below:
|1. Texas Red Yucca
Red leathery leaves with tubular flowers and pink stalks
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-10
|2. Yucca Schidigera
Tree-like structure with bayonet-shaped leaves and gray-brown trunk
USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-10
|3. Yucca Flaccida Golden Sword
Spiky leaves with white flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9
|4. Yucca Pendula/Soft Leaf
Multi-branched with bluish green leaves and white cluster flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-9
|5. Century Yucca
Stiff and leathery green leaves with bell-shaped white flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8
|6. Yucca Elephantipes/Spineless Jewel/Cane Yucca/Soft-tip Yucca
Small tree with multiple trunks, sword-shaped blue-green leaves, and white flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11
|7. Spanish Bayonet Yucca
Sparsely branched with sharp-pointed leaves and bell-shaped white/purple-tinged flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-12
|8. Yucca Spanish Dagger
Tree-like or shrub-like with yellow-green or blue-green leaves and pale yellow-green flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-11
|9. Yucca Rigida/Blue Yucca
Powdery blue leaves with a white cluster of bell-shaped flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-10
|10. Yucca Silver Star
Multi-trunked with bell-shaped ivory flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 11-12
|11. Yucca Gloriosa Variegata
Single-stemmed with creamy-yellow leaves and flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-11
|12. Yucca Baccata/Banana Yucca
Spiky leaves with white flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-11
|13. Yucca Glauca Soapweed
Long flower spikes with large white flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-10
|14. Yucca Rupicola
Twisted grayish leaves with pendant-like white or greenish flowers
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-8
The care and maintenance of the different varieties of yucca plant may vary slightly based on what region they are growing in.
Basic Requirements for Planting Yucca
Potting Mix with Good Draining
Since the plant is top heavy with low watering needs, it requires a well-drained soil that should be heavy enough to keep it in an upright position. Ideally, a mixture of equal parts of coarse sand, potting soil, and perlite, or a three to one mixture of sand and peat can be used when grown in a pot whether indoor or outdoor.
If you want to grow the plant in your garden or lawn without containers, make sure it is planted in sandy, dry, and gritty soil instead of some rich and highly fertile soil.
A Heavy Container
A heavy 10-17 inches large metal pot, preferably made of copper or brass, with good drainage will not only prevent your plant from falling over but also reduce water stagnation on your floors and furniture. Adding a 2 to 3 inch layer of rocks at the bottom of the container prevents water from getting stagnated and facilitates better drainage. If you are using a tray underneath the container, empty it from time to time to avoid excessive accumulation of standing water.
How to Care for Your Yucca Plant
Maintaining Balance between Sunlight and Shade
It grows best in bright indirect sunlight but can survive in full-shade/lower light conditions as well. When grown indoors, it is better to place it near east, west, or south-facing window if possible, as it allows maximum sun exposure.
Watering: How Often Should You Water a Yucca Plant
A native of arid regions, yucca has minimum water requirements. During the growing season (spring and summer), adding about an inch of water every week would be enough. Once established, water once every 7 to 10 days during the hot, dry spells in summer. In winter, water well when the topsoil layer appears dry. It rarely needs any watering in the rainy seasons.
Feed your plant with a low-nitrogen balanced fertilizer at 1/2 strength, containing all the essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, iron, and manganese, once every month during spring and summer. Both granular and water-soluble fertilizers can be used. The former slowly dissolves in the soil and release the nutrients to the plant’s roots, while the latter readily supply the nutrients to the plant, promoting faster growth.
Pruning: How to trim it
You can do the trimming once your plant blooms unless you want to collect the seeds for a new plant. Take a pair of sharp garden scissors and chop the flower stalk off as low as you can. There should be no stub sticking above the leaves.
The specific leaf-clump that grows the bloom stalk gradually dies, making way for new growth. So, if you can wait till the clump is dry enough, you can just pull the whole rosette off without disturbing the rest of the plant or any new growths.
If the top of a yucca tree becomes too heavy with clusters of leaves that make it bend down, you can just cut the trunk halfway down. This will lead to new, bushier leaf-growth that will allow the tree to have better balance.
Repotting an Overgrown Plant
There is usually no hurry in repotting the plant as it remains fine even when the roots are a bit crowded. Though you may have to repot once the roots begin to come out of the drainage holes or form a thick layer on the topsoil of your container.
How to Repot
- Water the plant thoroughly the day before transferring the plant.
- Choose a new container that’s a bit larger than the older one and fill about 1/3rd or ½ with the same potting mix.
- Remove the plant slowly from the old pot and detangle the roots carefully with your fingers.
- Place it into the new pot at the same soil depth as before and add the remaining potting mix around the roots. Water the plant uniformly and allow it to drain.
- Keep the plant in a shaded area for about two weeks to allow it to adjust to the new container before placing in sunlight.
Yucca Plant Diseases and Other Growth-Related Problems
Though yucca is a hardy plant, lack of appropriate care can make it susceptible to a host of pest attacks and growth issues.
Problems associated with Inadequate Care
Excess watering can lead to yellow leaves with brown tips, dead leaves, and root rot. Follow the right watering schedule to prevent it from occurring.
Exposing the plant to hot and bright sunlight suddenly from a shaded environment can lead to the formation of yellow and white blotches on the leaves (sunburn) as a result of a lack of acclimatization. So, when replacing an indoor yucca plant to an outdoor location, do it gradually over the course of a week so the plant gets a little time to adjust.
Excessive application of high nitrogen-containing fertilizers can result in browning and burning of leaves. Follow the appropriate fertilizing schedule to prevent it.
Fungal and Bacterial Issues
Fungi like Cercospora, Coniothyrium, and Cylindrosporium often affect the plant due to overwatering, causing fading of the leaves. Application of copper fungicide or neem oil may help in removing the spores from the leaves.
Leaf or blight spot is another common bacterial disease characterized by dark lesions on the leaves. Water the plant properly at the base and allow it to dry between watering sessions. Also, apply a good sterilized soil free of disease-causing bacteria and spores.
Lack of sunlight can cause the leaves to become outstretched and leggy, especially when the plant is grown indoors. Exposing all the sides of the plant to the required amount of light will reverse the problem and ensure a uniform and healthy growth.
Scale insects are relatively common, feeding on the sap, leaving behind deposits in the form of yellowish-white or black spots. Spraying light alcohol solution or insecticide over the affected areas could be useful. Agrave plant bugs attack in a similar manner, sucking out the juices from the plant, causing browning of leaves. Application of insecticidal solution directly over the leaves may help in controlling the problem.
It is also often infested by other insects such as mealy bugs, aphids, and weevils that could be eliminated by water sprays and insecticidal soap solutions.
Can Yucca be Harmful to Pets
Though yucca can be grown as a normal houseplant, the steroidal saponins present in the leaves are considered toxic to animals, causing vomiting, weakness, and drooling, if it gets into their mouth. Therefore, it is advisable to keep the plant away from the reach of your pets.