How To Care For A Yucca Plant

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Yucca plant, care for this versatile indoor and outdoor plant that is flexible, easy care for and maintain – and being on of the top air cleaning indoor plants is just another benefit.
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There are quite a few plants meeting these flexibility and care requirements:

  • Rhapis Palms
  • Sansevieria
  • Aspidistra
  • Dracaena
  • Spathiphyllum
  • Spineless Yucca – The botanical name of this underused indoor houseplant is Yucca elephantipes.

The spineless yucca elephantipes is one of those indoor tropicals, that prefers high light. The plant will live in low light, but you’ll need to make sure you apply proper watering and maintenance techniques.

Spineless yucca plants are a member of the lily family and makes its home in Guatemala and southeast Mexico.

As you may interpret from the southern Mexican home, the plant prefers sunshine and will do best in an east, west or south-facing window. In its native environment, spineless yucca eventually mature at 30 feet tall.

The “How To” of Yucca Plant Care Indoors – Watering

In bright or high light settings, allow the top 1/4 or 1/3 of soil to dry out before watering well. In low-light settings indoors, allow 3/4 of the soil to dry down between waterings. I recommend subirrigation to water house plants if possible.

When you water DO NOT let the plant sit in a puddle or saucer of water that can accumulate in the bottom of the container. In low light areas this extra water may encourage rotting. 

Signs of Overwatering Yucca Plant

Overwatering will show up as foliage collapse or cane rotting, especially at the soil line.

Spineless yucca is very similar in growing and care to Dracaenas. You’ll find this yucca typically grown as either a bush or with multiple canes.

Bush forms are grown from tips with three plants per pot. Multiple cane plants typically have three or four canes of different heights in a container.

In the “wild” Yucca elephantipes comes robed with dark green leaves, indoors the foliage may have a light or pale green color. 

The leaves are sword shaped and stiff with lengths of 12 to 18 inches long and 1 inch to 1-1/4 inches wide.

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Yucca Cane Indoors

Most yucca production indoors is in 10, 14 and 17-inch pots with plants commonly running from 36 inches to 8 feet in height. Seldom do you find plants in containers larger than 17 inch pots. You will find at times character stumps which can provide some very unusual looks.

Many indoor tropical house plants are not real happy with big temperature changes although they will still work at cleaning the air.

One of the yucca’s best features is its ability to handle variable temperature ranges. With good air movement or circulation these plants can take temperatures in the 90s to a low in the upper 30s.

This makes the spineless yucca an excellent choice for areas that can have a variety of temperature ranges such as a lobby or home entry. It is also a good selection for plant groupings with cactus or when you want to achieve that Southwestern look.

Pest On Yucca

Another plus, is that it’s relatively free from insect problems. This is one plant that spider mites don’t like. At times you may find scale or mealybugs, but generally, the plants are insect free.

When insects are detected, spray with an approved insecticide like neem.

Spineless yucca probably finds more use when designing around a desert-type theme or southwest style. Due to its versatility, reliability and sturdiness it does find its way into other indoor plantcapes. More on yucca tree care here.

When buying a yucca plant look for ones that are well rooted and don’t have any “cane wobble” and remember DO NOT overwater this plant or allow it to sit in water.

Question: I’ve had a Yucca plant in my home for about 5 years. When I bought the plant it had three 3 trunks or canes in a 14-inch pot but now one trunk has rotted away in the past six months.

In order to “revive” my houseplant I decided to pull out the rotted cane and repot the plant into a larger pot. The plant is now in a 20-inch pot with new soil.

I water the plant every week and use plant food when I water. There are new leaves coming out but the ends or tips are brown. The plant sits about 8-10 feet away from my south window. What can I do to save my plant? – Kathleen, Dallas, Texas.

yucca-plant-fungus

Answer: First of all thank you for the complete description of the plant problem/situation. Often times the information is spotty at best and tough to reply.

What you have described covers what would be two of the most common problems house plant owners “face” or I should say “cause.” The difference in your case is you waited 5 years or so. All too often plant owners assume repotting and adding plant food or fertilizer will help the plant, usually it causes more problems.

Let’s first start with the lighting. Yucca comes from southern Mexico and craves high direct light. The first part of providing better care and maintenance begins with more light.

The plant is sitting way to far away from a good light source; this results in weak growth and the plant using very low water needs.

Most indoor house plants DO NOT need to be repotted. The excess soil only puts more moisture around the roots.

Watering on a weekly basis, the pot being large in size and the plant not sitting in bright light I do not see any way for the soil to dry out. I would first say the plant is over potted and over watered.

Fertilizer should be used on plants actively growing plants and not as a way to “fertilize and care the plant” back to health.

Excess salts in fertilizers just burn the unhealthy roots. The cane of your yucca probably declined slowly over the years from bad lighting and over watering.

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The brown tips on the new growth are simple telling you the roots have some problems.

Indoor Yucca Pests – Is It Scale

At times a mature yucca sitting in the same place and pot for years may look like it is infested with scale.

A plant owner takes care in spraying the plant with an insecticide to kill the houseplant bugs and then rinses the plant down with water to make sure no harmful chemicals hang around the house.

Then panic starts in as you wonder where this ugly “scale” came from and if it will infect the other indoor plants.

Before treating any plant for scale it is important to know if the problem is scale. Scale should scratch of flick off with your fingernail.

Scale also will leave behind a sticky substance. However, yucca often times gets a fungus many mistake for scale. If fungus is the problem remove the leaf and lower leaves to control the disease since this removes the source of new infections.

If scale is the true problem I like to go with a natural “pesticide” solution like neem.

Neem is safe and should not hurt you, the plant or environment. After applying or spraying the plant, rinsing off any sprayed on material only washes off the “treatment.”

Always keep an eye out for ants on your houseplants. Ants are great farmers and love to farm scale and aphids. Keeping a watchful eye is the best way to fight problems like scale on a yucca plant or house plants on general.

Plant scale is a pest that spreads slowly, by monitoring your plants regularly, cleaning and grooming scale not be an issue with your house plants.

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