Image by Beatrice Murch
By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
While typically grown for ornamental reasons, many people find yucca plants to be welcome additions to the landscape. Others, however, consider them to be problems. In fact, due to their rapid growth and vast root system, yucca plants can quickly become a nuisance. Although these plants are difficult to eradicate once established, with persistence you can win the battle of removing yucca plants in the garden.
How Do I Get Rid of a Yucca Plant?
Unbeknownst to many people, getting rid of yucca plants is not a one-time deal. In fact, simply digging them up or cutting them down may not always be enough. Yucca plants have an extensive root system and will continue to grow long after the plant has been removed. For instance, where one yucca plant is dug up, numerous yucca sprouts may appear again and again.
Therefore, ridding the garden of this determined grower involved more than just learning how to remove a yucca plant. You also need to learn patience and vigilance in order to successfully kill new sprouts.
How to Kill Yucca Plants
So how do you kill yucca sprouts once and for all? When you dig up yucca, try to get as much of the roots as possible. Every piece of root, regardless of how small, will inevitably produce a new plant.
Therefore, you may need to periodically check the area for young sprouts and remove them either by digging them up or by dousing them with full strength herbicide. Look for one that contains glyphosate, such as Round-up, which targets the root systems. Since yucca foliage is tough and waxy, traditional weed killers and herbicides are usually deemed ineffective, as they rarely penetrate the plant. This is especially true for mature yuccas. Young sprouts, however, are much more susceptible.
In addition to digging up yucca plants, some people find it easier to cut the plant down and soak it with Round-up beforehand. First, remove foliage and any side branches with a saw or pruning shears. Note: Remember to wear gloves and protective clothing to avoid the painful pricks from the needle-sharp leaves.
Then, use an axe or saw to cut the main trunk down to about a foot or so from the ground. Drill a series of 1- to 2-inch holes around the base. Pour stump remover or Round-up (or even both) in the holes. This will eventually spread throughout the root system and eventually kill it—at which time the yucca plant can be dug up and removed from the area.
While it may take several attempts to get rid of yucca plants, sooner or later the yucca roots will weaken and die. Patience and vigilance will eventually pay off.