If you’re a newbie houseplant collector or maybe you don’t have much of a green thumb, then the Yucca is a brilliant plant. Its beautiful lush-green leaves and woody trunk do not require much attention or consistent fretting over. It simply needs to be kept in the ideal environment and it’s good to go.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the entire process of caring for this houseplant.
This herbaceous perennial belongs to the Agavaceae family. It has a similar appearance to that of a dragon tree and is fairly easy to grow.
As it’s native to the Caribbean, Guatemala and southeast Mexico, it is slightly drought-tolerant and can cope with a little neglect. It’s great at conserving water in its rhizome, so this houseplant doesn’t need to be fussed over too much.
It has spiky, lush-green foliage that comes in a few varieties, which we’ll be discussing soon.
Fun Fact: The Yucca symbolizes opportunities, loyalty, protection and purity in its native region.
Types of Yucca Plants
The Yucca genus is comprised of over 40 species, and we’ll talk about the most popular ones below.
- Yucca baccata: Also referred to as the ‘Banana’ Yucca, this variation has pretty sharp, spiky leaves that can grow up to 2 to 3 feet (0.6 – 0.9m) tall.
- Yucca glauca: The ‘Soapweed’ Yucca sprouts stunning flower spikes that can reach a height of 3 to 4 feet (0.9 – 1.2m) with pretty creamy-white flowers.
- Yucca smalliana: A ‘Beargrass’ Yucca produces slightly softer leaves and its flowers produce a strong fragrance.
- Yucca gloriosa: The ‘Bright Star’ Yucca only grows up to 1 to 2 feet (0.3 – 0.6m) tall and its leaves have yellow and green stripes running along them. This variation also produces attractive light pink buds.
- Yucca guatemalensis: This plant is known as the ‘Spineless’ Yucca, however, it was previously named the Yucca elephantipes. Its pointy leaves lack the typical leaf-tip spine that the other Yucca plants have.
- Yucca aloifolia: The ‘Spanish Bayonet’ Yucca grows extremely sharp-tipped leaves that can reach up to 20 inches (50.8cm) in length.
The Yucca roots have many medicinal properties, however, they should be ingested as a supplement or powder extract. If you ingest the Yucca root raw then you may become ill.
The non-flowering Yucca is used to treat the following ailments:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Stomach disorders
- Gallbladder and liver disorders
The root has also been used to treat sores, sprains and joint pains by applying it directly to the skin. The supplement has also been known to boost immunity levels as it’s high in vitamin C and antioxidants.
How Big Does It Get?
The mature size of a Yucca will vary greatly depending on the type of plant. Typically, a smaller houseplant reaches a height and width of 2 to 4 feet (0.6 – 1.2m), whereas a larger outdoor Yucca can grow up to 30 feet (9.1m) tall and 25 feet (7.6m) wide.
How Fast Does It Grow?
In ideal conditions, it will grow an average of 12 to 24 inches (30.5 – 61cm) a year depending on its variety.
How Long Does It Live?
An indoor Yucca isn’t a long-lived houseplant with a typical lifespan of 5 to 7 years.
Is It Poisonous to Dogs, Cats and Humans?
It is unfortunately toxic to both pets and people. We’ll list the symptoms to keep an eye out for if your pet or child ingests the plant.
If either of your pets ingests the plant they may experience the following symptoms:
- Stomach aches
You should also be cautious as the foliage is sharp and pointy. So, if your cat or dog plays with the leaves, they can become cut and hurt.
Please contact your veterinarian if your pet has ingested the plant and the symptoms linger over a period of time.
It is toxic when ingested raw as it contains cyanogenic glucosides that trigger hydrogen cyanide to be released. You may feel nauseous, vomit or have an upset stomach if you eat the plant before it has been cooked.
Contact your doctor if your symptoms persist.
Yucca Plant Care
Although we previously mentioned that it is a sturdy and tough houseplant, that doesn’t mean it can withstand total neglect. There are a few things that you’ll need to do in order for your houseplant to flourish and stay healthy.
How Often to Water It
It is highly sensitive to overwatering, much like the ponytail palm. Remember, the houseplant is native to desert-like conditions so it’s drought-tolerant. Typically, you should water it every 7 to 10 days during the spring and summer months. As the winter chill sets in you can water the houseplant less frequently.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the top 50% of the soil must be dry in between watering. Depending on the climate you reside in, you may need to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
As the Yucca cannot withstand soggy conditions, it’s imperative that it drains well to eliminate fungal diseases. Many houseplants, such as the ZZ plant, requires ample drainage.
The best way to ensure that your plant drains well is by planting it in a container with drainage holes. This way the water can flow out, and remember to empty the water that accumulates in the saucer.
Another way to improve the drainage system and ensure that the soil dries out is by choosing a terracotta pot. A clay or any porous material absorbs the moist and prevents overly saturated conditions.
How to Trim It
It requires to be pruned using a slightly different method compared to other houseplants. You can prune it during the spring or summertime to maintain its growth, size and look. You may also want to trim off the flower once it begins to die.
When pruning the houseplant, you’ll need a clean saw. Remove your plant and saw the trunk in half, and then repot the trunk in a new container. Your houseplant will soon look as good as before once the new growth sprouts.
Once your flower begins to fade away, you might want to start thinking about snipping it off. Find a sterilized pair of scissors or shears and cut the stalk off at about 4 inches (10cm) above the main stem.
Top Tip: Wipe the leaves down with a damp cloth to remove any dust and keep your plant looking lush and healthy.
How to Transplant It
Although it does well when slightly pot-bound, you will need to repot the houseplant every 2 to 3 years. You should think about transplanting it as soon as the roots begin to grow through the drainage holes or when it becomes top-heavy.
It’s best to transplant the houseplant when it’s actively growing during spring and summer. Additionally, keep in mind that you’ll only want to go up by one pot size.
Follow the simple guide below:
- Loosen the soil and remove the plant out of the container.
- Brush off any loose soil attached to the roots and check that they are healthy. If there is any damage then trim the unhealthy tissue off.
- Find a new pot and fill it with a layer of soil, then repot the plant. You’ll need to add in some excess potting mixture to fill in around the roots.
- Thoroughly water it and place the container back in the plant’s original home.
There are a few environmental requirements to ensure that your houseplant is happy and healthy. They’re pretty easy to follow and replicate, and once you do, your houseplant will thrive.
It thrives in full, direct sunshine as it’s native to desert-like conditions. Find a bright, sunny home as it cannot survive in shady areas for a prolonged period of time.
The plant can withstand partial shade, however, it’ll produce thin and slow growth. Make sure that it receives at least 3 to 6 hours of sunlight a day.
Best Soil Type
It prefers a sandy potting mixture that is well-draining, loose, and lightweight. If the soil is too heavy then it will retain way too much moisture causing root rot.
To improve the drainage of the plant, try adding in some peat moss or perlite. For the optimal potting mixture; add 1 part peat moss and 3 parts sharp sand.
A light feeding is all this indoor plant needs. It’s ideal to make use of a water-soluble liquid fertilizer with a ratio of 19-6-12 (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium).
This hardy houseplant only needs to be fertilized once a month during spring and summer. When the dormant winter months arrive, you can cease feeding it.
Pot Size and Type
The Yucca prefers a tight, snug home where it’s slightly root-bound. If the container is too big then the plant’s growth may become unmanageable and the potting mixture can become too damp. The pot’s diameter should be 1 inch (2.5cm) wider than the rootball.
We previously mentioned that a terracotta pot is a perfect type of container for the Yucca, however, any pot will do as long it has 3 to 5 drainage holes.
In its native home, the desert has a temperature range of 30 to 90°F (-1 – 32°C). So the Yucca can withstand extreme temperatures, however, it will do well in an environment with a temperature ranging between 50 and 80°F (10 – 26.7°C).
Just like the jade plant, this houseplant will do well in the average household humidity level. Typically, it will flourish in an environment of 40% relative humidity.
There’s no need to mist its leaves or create humid surroundings as the Yucca prefers a drier environment.
Can It Grow Outside?
The Yucca can be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones of 9 through 11. It will grow happily and healthily outdoors as it basks in direct sunlight.
It can grow much taller when planted outside as long as the plant isn’t left outdoors during the winter. The most important thing to keep in mind is to water the houseplant more often when it’s outside.
How Often Do They Bloom?
The Yucca produces stunning cream and pink blooms during mid-summer and early autumn. Unfortunately, it rarely flowers when it’s grown indoors. They usually last for around a month before they begin to wither away.
If you want to encourage these beautiful blooms then make sure to regularly fertilize the plant and make sure that you don’t overwater it either.
How to Grow It
There are many ways to propagate and grow a houseplant, and the best part is that they’re all fairly simple. Take a look at our step-by-step guides to propagating this houseplant in soil, water, and how to plant its seeds.
A general rule is that no matter what method of propagation you choose, it’s best to do so in the spring or summertime.
Propagating the Yucca is fairly straightforward and is a great way to increase your collection. You can produce more houseplants in soil and water through planting pups, cuttings and divisions. Make sure that no matter what method you choose to use, your blades are sterilized and clean.
Make sure to use a well-draining, sandy and aerated potting mixture when you’re propagating the Yucca.
Offsets or pups are produced by the mother plant and are a great way to reproduce your own Yucca.
Follow the steps below:
- Slide the houseplant out of its container, and prepare a new pot with some soil.
- Cut the offset with a sharp blade and apply a rooting compound to the cut area.
- Plant the pup in the new potting mixture and water it thoroughly.
- For the first 3 weeks, keep the pup out of direct sunlight.
- Once the offset has rooted, you can care for it as you would a mature houseplant.
- Slide the Yucca out of its container and cut off any side of the stem then remove its leaves.
- Dip each cut area in rooting hormone and plant the stem in well-draining soil so that the tip which previously had the leaves is facing up.
- Find a sunny, warm home for the cutting and water it well.
- In a month the plant will root and you can care for it as you normally would.
- Remove the plant from its container and rinse the rhizome under a gentle stream of water.
- Prepare a pot of fresh potting mixture for each division.
- Slice the rhizome with a sharp knife and carefully pull the divisions apart, and plant them in their new containers.
- Water the plant well and care for them as you would a mature houseplant.
When propagating the stem cuttings in water, you’ll need to keep an eye on them. When it becomes murky you should replace it with clean water. This will prevent any fungal diseases from infecting your plant.
Follow the steps below to propagate stem cuttings in water:
- Cut a 3-inch (7.6cm) long stem and remove the leaves. Mark which side of the stem had leaves and dip each cut end in some rooting hormone.
- Fill a transparent glass jar with cool water and place the stem in the jar so that the tip where the leaves were previously growing is facing up.
- Position the jar in a sunny home and repot it once new growth emerges.
How to Plant Its Seeds
It’s always a great accomplishment when you manage to grow your very own plant from a seed. Try producing a thriving houseplant from its seed pods. Follow the simple steps coming up next.
- Soak the seeds in water overnight to soften their hard carapace.
- Find a shallow tray and fill it with a well-draining cactus potting mixture, and plant each seed 1-inch (2.5cm) deep in the soil.
- Place the tray in a warm, sunny location and water it every 2 days for 2 weeks until you notice seedlings.
- Once the seedlings become big enough, you can repot them when necessary.
When it comes to the Yucca plant, it’s pretty hardy meaning it won’t run into many problems. The major culprit for a withering and sad plant is either overwatering or inadequate sunlight. Below, we’ll list what may be causing your poor plant to die and how to fix it.
Why Is It Turning Yellow?
The yellowing of leaves is due to two problems; too much moisture or a lack of direct sunlight. The Yucca doesn’t do well in an overly moist environment as the roots become stressed.
Make sure that the topsoil is dry and keep a good watering schedule, to ensure that the plant gets an adequate amount of moisture without becoming saturated.
If sunlight is the issue then find a new home where your plant will receive plenty of sunshine. A bright windowsill is perfect for a Yucca.
If your unhealthy plant’s leaves begin to droop it needs more sunlight. The houseplant cannot thrive if it doesn’t receive direct sunlight like it would in its native environment.
Simply, find a new place for it where the sun shines through.
What Causes Brown and White Spots?
Sunburn and harsh sun rays can cause white or brown splotches to ruin your pristine plant’s foliage. This happens when the plant is receiving too much sunlight. You can easily rectify this problem by placing it in indirect sunshine.
Brown Leaf Edges
If you’ve noticed the foliage is starting to brown or the edges are becoming dry then you may be feeding your houseplant too much. It only requires a light feeding every now and then, so maybe tweak your fertilizing schedule.
You will need to flush the plant’s soil to remove the excess fertilizer salts. Place the pot under a light stream of water for 5 minutes to completely remove the salts.
By now you can tell that the Yucca plant is pretty easy to care for and doesn’t really run into much trouble unless it is overwatered.
This houseplant is great for a newbie stepping into the world of houseplants. The most important thing to remember is that it would rather withstand some slight neglect than be excessively watered and fed.