General gardening topics

Growing Yucca plants for that stunning architectural effect

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The yucca plant can be an evergreen shrub, a small tree and some more tender varieties can be house plants. With so many options you can choose the dense or the loose rosettes of sword-shaped leaves often variegated and bell-shaped flowers. The larger forms will lose a lot of the leaves at the lower part of the trunk with time which means as your yucca plant gets older it exposes the trunk much like a cordyline. It’s important that you plant them in the optimum conditions to achieve a stunning architectural effect and give them enough space.

At the end of summer beginning of autumn, your yucca plant will produce panicles of bell-shaped flowers once they are established but it can take a number of years and they don’t always flower as they sometimes need hand pollinating to flower successfully.

Growing hardy varieties outdoors

Hardy Yucca

When planting outdoors you want to make sure you have an area that is well-drained with full sun and plenty of space, think about mixing some gravel into the soil to improve drainage if needed.

Planting in containers

If you are growing your Yucca in a container, make sure you have the appropriate sized container and that you add extra grit to improve the drainage and mix with a soil-based compost such as John Innes potting compost, maybe mix as much as one-third grit and two-thirds compost. This will ensure that the soil mixture maintains moisture being soil-based while being free-draining thanks to the grit.

Yucca’s are best positioned in an area that gets full light and don’t forget to water it regularly during the growing season from around March onwards, applying a balanced fertilizer in the form of a liquid feed every two to three weeks.

Winter care

When winter comes, don’t feed the plant and water it sparingly, always allowing the surface of compost to dry out before you add more water. Some cold winter has been known to kill Yuccas as they do palms and cordylines so we also recommend covering the container with lagging and putting fleece over the plant if the weather is forecasted to be very cold. If you can we recommend moving it into a greenhouse or cool conservatory if possible.

Growing more tender indoors house plant varieties

You can grow the more tender yucca plants indoors but it requires a position that has access to plenty of sunlight all year and is best planted in well-draining compost so don’t forget to add plenty of grit as you would with the hardier varieties.

A south-facing window is better for winter to give them a little less sunlight but if possible, we recommend moving them to a west or east-facing window in summer to take advantage of the light and longer days.

Try to provide afternoon shade in summer

Providing your plant with light shade in the summer afternoon and giving better airflow will help reduce the risk of the leaves getting scorched by the sun with is a common problem with some house plants. It’s worth noting that the tender Yuccas varieties can be placed outdoors in Summer once the danger of frost has passed which is usually around May but they must be brought back indoors before we get frost again.

Try to avoid pruning with the exception of spent flowers and damaged leaves

You don’t normally need to prune the yucca plant but what you do need, is the removal of any damaged leaves and deadheading for spent flower spikes if your lucky enough to have them.

This is something you can do in the spring before they really start actively growing again. If you are growing your yucca plant indoors you can prevent it from getting lopsided as it grows toward the light as many house plants do by regularly turning the plants so it isn’t always facing the sun on one side of the plant.

Propagating Yuccas

Taking stem cutting

If you want to propagate your yucca plant, you can take stem cuttings in the spring and propagate them in a semi-shaded area but they do need bottom heat of around 18°C (65°F) to get the cuttings to root.

Sowing Yucca seeds

Seeds can be sown in the springtime as well but be sure to soak the seeds 24 hours beforehand as they will greatly improve germination. They are best propagated in a heated propagator where you can provide a consistent temperature of around 13-18°C (55-64°F). If you sowing seeds of more tender house plant varieties they do need a couple of extra degrees of heat of around 19°C.

Dealing with aphids and snails

In most cases, yucca plants are free from problems if they are grown outdoors with the exception of aphids which attach nearly all plants and potentially snails. Spray with a pesticide at the first sign of aphids and consider picking snails off by hand or using slug traps.

Cultural problems for indoor plants

Lower leaves going brown and crispy

If you grow them indoors there are a few problems to be aware of. First, if the leaves on the lower part of the plant turn crispy and brown it’s usually a sign of under-watering. This is an easy fix, simply water a little more frequently keeping the soil moist but overly wet.

Dealing with droopy leaves

If the leaves start drooping and sagging it could be an issue with low light levels, in this case, try moving to a position with more light. If the leaves turn yellow suddenly and become limp it’s because of over-watering, degrease watering and allow the soil surface to dry between watering being careful not to under-watering.

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