Yucca plants are interesting and surprisingly versatile perennial garden plants which do well planted as a low privacy screen or on their own as interesting specimen plants in a small garden.
In welcoming climates, they are wonderful landscape plants. It is the New Mexico state flower.
In colder climates, some smaller species such as Yucca elephantipes make excellent houseplants.
One of the most interesting things about the Yucca is it’s beautiful and bountiful bloom time.
In ideal conditions, plants like Yucca aloifolia and Yucca gloriosa (spanish dagger) bloom annually in a carefree manner; however, if the conditions are not just right, they are frustratingly stubborn.
In this article, we discuss what to do if your Yucca plants do not bloom and what to do when it does.
Read on to learn more.
What Are the Ideal Conditions for Yucca Plants to Flower?
Yuccas, like Yucca filamentosa, are amazingly adaptable. Through millennia they have withstood a wide variety of settings.
Today there are over forty different types of Yucca doing well in Mexico, North America, and in the Caribbean.
Most varieties are very hardy and easy to care for, but whenever you acquire a Yucca plant, you must take care to correctly identify it and do a little research to determine what it needs to be happy with you.
Happy Yuccas Blooms Regularly
These slow-growing, evergreen perennials cut a dashing figure in the garden with their long, gray-green, dagger-like leaves.
Once a year (more or less) healthy, happy plants send up a tall, sturdy stalk topped with billows of fragrant, bell-shaped, creamy white blooms.
Ideally, blooming is annual. However, the yucca flower may be somewhat sporadic, depending on how happy your Yucca plants are in your setting.
Light & Temperature
It’s easy to grow Yuccas in the ground in areas where they are winter hardy year-round (winter hardiness varies from species-to-species) or in containers to be brought indoors in colder climates.
Drought-resistant yucca plants do beautifully in settings ranging from shade to sun, but if kept as houseplants, they will not do well without bright light from a window or artificial lighting.
Furthermore, if kept as a houseplant year-round, your Yucca plants are unlikely to bloom at all.
It’s best to allow these desert dwellers to live outdoors during the warmer months, even if they are container specimens.
Like most desert plants, Yucca doesn’t need a great deal of fertilizer.
Still, a regular, light dose of fertilizer (once at the beginning of the growing season and once again toward the middle of the growing season) will encourage your Yucca plant to present its healthiest self and to bloom in abundance.
The best type of fertilizer to use for the Yucca plant is one organic and rich in phosphorus.
Grooming & Maintenance
Another way to encourage blooming is to trim back damaged or wilted leaves as they are unnecessary and consume some of the plant’s energy.
It’s better to keep your Yucca well-trimmed and tidy both for your enjoyment and for its health.
Do light pruning throughout the growing season and give your plant a more thorough pruning at the end of the growing season (usually early in October).
Do Yucca Flowers Smell?
Yucca flowers bloom at night and emit a deeply sweet scent attracting the plants’ sole pollinator, the Yucca moth.
Like most moths, Yucca moths fly at night, and the females are very attracted to the Yucca flowers’ rich scent.
The female moth visits the blossoms’ stamens and gathers pollen, then she moves on to another plant and deposits the pollen on its stigma.
In the process, she lays eggs inside the Yucca’s white flowers, which in turn protect the larvae and provide them with a source of food.
This is a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship.
The purpose of the moth is to pollinate Yuccas, and Yucca moths are the only plants these moths visit.
This is not to say no other pollinators visit these plants.
For example, hummingbirds are very attracted to the nectar and the scent of Yucca flowers.
Are All Yucca Flowers Edible?
Hummingbirds are not the only creatures who like the taste of Yucca flowers.
Many people also eat them.
Most parts of the Yucca plant are edible.
The “asparagus stalk” on which the blooms grow is considered a delicacy, and many people (especially Native Americans of the Southwest) enjoy it when it is young and tender.
Native Americans also make great use of all parts of the plant-eating the stalks, fruits, and also the blooms.
The leaves are very fibrous and are used to make string and rope.
The pulp of the heart of the plant is used to make soap.
It’s possible to eat Yucca blooms raw, but if you do, you must examine them carefully because they may be full of Yucca moth larvae as well as ants and other local insects.
Once carefully examined and cleaned, you’re sure to find Yucca petals are very tasty.
Flavor varies from one species to another, and the age of the flower also makes a difference to its flavor.
Blooms having become more mature are a little bitter. Remember you must only eat the petals.
They are thick, firm, crunchy, and taste a little bit like the most tender of artichoke leaves and/or green beans.
Some people say eating raw Yucca petals will make your throat itchy, but if you cook them, you will not have this problem.
There are quite a few recipes for cooking Yucca flowers.
Many of them are egg recipes such as huevos rancheros, omelets, and frittatas.
Yucca blossoms seem to pair well with Mexican type veggies such as chilies and tomatillos.
They are a good addition to stir-fries and also to a wide variety of soups.
As an appetizer, Yucca petals get fried like squash blossoms.
What Can You Do If Your Yucca Plant Won’t Flower?
There could be many reasons why your Yucca plant doesn’t want to bloom.
One of the most basic reasons is they must reach maturity before they bloom.
Don’t be impatient; your plant may simply not be old enough.
Another problem which may prevent your Yucca from blooming is it may not be warm enough.
Most yuccas bloom during the warmest time of year, although some species vary a bit on this.
Their tendency to bloom at the warmest time of year may cause them to bloom at different times each year, depending upon the weather.
If your Yucca plant did bloom at this time last year but is not blooming this year, compare this year’s weather with last year, and you may have your answer.
As mentioned earlier, water properly along with fertilizing and pruning will help encourage your Yucca plant to bloom.
Be sure to fertilize with bonemeal at the beginning and the midpoint of the growing season.
Keep struggling leaves trimmed back, and when your plant does bloom be sure to deadhead the old flower stalks and head to make room for new growing tips and blooms to grow next year.
How Do You Take Care Of a Yucca Plant After Blooming?
Even though Yuccas are members of the Liliaceae family, their flowers are nothing like lilies.
Full, opulent clusters of bell-shaped flowers form atop towering flower spires.
When this happens, there’s not a lot of care involved.
Simply enjoy the beautiful show your plant is putting on for you.
Yuccas are quite rugged and adaptable, so caring for them after bloom time is finished is also not very troublesome.
When the blooms begin to fade, you may want to deadhead the individual blossoms just for aesthetics’ sake.
Once all blooms are finished, decide whether you want to go ahead and remove the entire stem or leave it until the end of the growing season for a bit of architectural interest.
Will Deadheading the Individual Flowers Encourage More Flowers to Form?
Yuccas only produce a set number of flowers per year.
Deadheading the individual flowers will not result in more blooms, but it will make your plant look a bit tidier.
Removing the flowers is not required but will prevent the plant from making seeds.
If you want seeds and baby Yuccas, you’ll want to leave the flowers in place and let them go to seed.
If the plant does produce seeds, you may want to gather them, dry them, and use them in a controlled germination project.
Alternately, let nature take its course, and you may see some little Yucca plants within three weeks of the plant self-sowing.
Keep in mind it takes many years for seedling Yuccas to reach maturity and bloom.
Even so, they are attractive on their own without blooms.
How Do You Cut Out the Yucca Flower Stalk?
The Yucca flower stalks are the asparagus stalk which is such a delicacy.
If you catch it while it’s young, before any flowers begin to form, it’s quite easy to cut through it and to enjoy it as a fresh veggie.
If you wait until after the flowers bloom, you’ll find yourself dealing with quite a different object.
The dead flower stalks are thick and tough, and you will need some very powerful, very sharp pruners with very long handles.
To prepare for cutting the flower, be sure to sharpen your pruner blades and clean them to avoid spreading any sort of virus to your plant.
Put on a heavy, long-sleeved shirt, a pair of thick gardening gloves, and eye protection to prevent being injured by the plant’s sharp leaves.
Reach your pruners deep into the plant and cut out as much of the scape as possible.
Yuccas are usually finished blooming by mid-summer.
At this time, you want to be sure to give your plant a good, deep watering and keep a close eye out for pests such as:
Do away with these pesky insects through the use of homemade insecticidal soap spray.
Also, watch for any offsets or pups your plant may have produced.
Either leave them in place or separate them from the parent plant and put them in pots to enjoy indoors through the wintertime.