If you're looking for a houseplant that thrives on neglect, but still makes a decorating statement, consider the spineless yucca (Yucca elephantipes). Spineless in this case doesn't mean this houseplant is by any means weak or feeble. These plants are more likely to outgrow your space and can get quite tall, even when confined to a pot.
My Amazing Yucca Plant
I've had my yucca for about 20 years and I honestly only remember repotting it once. (And this was because I wanted something a little more decorative than the black plastic pot it came in.) Granted, this is not the recommended interval for transplanting a yucca of this species, but like I said, they are highly tolerant of neglect.
Just for the record, I also only water my yucca houseplant about once a month rather than giving it the recommended weekly drink of water. While all this neglect hasn't killed this lovely plant, I'm certain it has slowed down its growth rate. Yet at 7 feet tall (2 m.), I can honestly say I'm glad it hasn't grown faster!
Alas, as a garden writer, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you the recommended way to provide yucca houseplant care. As this is definitely a case of do as I say and not as I do, here is the proper way to care for potted yuccas.
Avoid Overwatering an Indoor Yucca Plant
Obviously, my once a month “let's throw some water on it” technique for hydrating my yucca plant prevents me from overwatering these desert natives. Yet, I've often wondered if it's possible to underwater them. Mine resides in a 16 inch (41 cm.) wide planter. It may well be possible to underwater this species should it be rootbound and in a smaller pot.
I do have a theory as to why my yucca is not rootbound, even though it has been more than a decade since I've repotted it. A few years back, we had a rather tenacious mouse that took up residence in our 1930's era home. Even our two housecats couldn't seem to rid us of this pest.
I would see it scurrying along the wall, behind the television stand and into the bedroom where I kept the yucca. While Mr. Mouse was living with us, I kept finding holes dug in the soil of the yucca plant.
Now, I've never heard of mice digging holes in potted plants, but I can't think of any other reason why these holes would keep appearing even after I filled them in with potting soil. I think perhaps Mr. Mouse was doing a bit of root pruning, which in some odd way was beneficial to my yucca.
Nonetheless, indoor yucca plants are very prone to root rot if overwatered. Regardless of the recommendation to water these plants weekly, it's best to always check the soil first. If it is moist, don't hesitate to wait a few days before watering.
Yucca Plant Indoor Care
While these plants make beautiful and interesting houseplants, this species of yucca is only hardy in tropical climates. Outdoors, they can be grown in full sun or partial shade. To provide as much sunlight as possible, I keep my yucca in an east-facing window. To keep the trunk growing straight, I regularly rotate the pot.
I've found potted yucca plants are quite tolerant of any well-draining potting soil. A cactus mix is ideal, but adding sand, perlite or vermiculite to a standard potting mix will also work. These plants are not heavy feeders and I rarely include fertilizer when watering.
I have found that the one aspect of care these plants routinely require is pruning. Several time per year, I trim off the lower leaves which have turned brown. These can be left on the trunk, but I find yuccas to be more aesthetically pleasing when the foliage is all green.
Finally, once my yucca reaches the ceiling, it will be time to prune its height by sawing across the trunk. Repotting both the bottom with the roots and the sawed off top will give me two plants. I find this task a bit daunting, so I'm glad I only need to do it once every 10 to 20 years!
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.
15 Garden Trends To Avoid in 2024: Experts Warn Against These Outdated Designs
Garden trends come and go. We asked gardening experts to share the outdated trends that should be retired – and what you can do instead.
By Melanie Griffiths Last updated
How To Overwinter Ollas For Years Of Use: Get More From Irrigation Pots
If you overwinter ollas properly, you'll keep these unique watering pots from cracking. Here's how to protect them in erratic winter temperatures so they last longer.
By Mary Ellen Ellis Published