Quick Yucca Facts
- Scientific name - Yucca elephantipes
- Height - 30 feet (9m)
- Spread - 25 feet (7.5m)
- Sun exposure - Full with some protection
- Soil requirements - Well draining with some grit
- Hardiness zones - USDA 9 and above
- When to plant - Spring
Growing an indoor yucca plant such as Yucca elephantipes adds an instant dramatic focal point to your home. These very recognizable evergreen plants come in a variety of sizes and have 40-50 known species. The most common of these is Spanish dagger, a plant that can reach 30 feet (9m) at maturity. A yucca houseplant grows slowly, however, so it can thrive indoors for decades.
Yucca plants are in the Asparagaceae family. They are known for their spiked, long leaves and pronounced rosette form. Some yucca grow as shrubs, while others develop a tree-like trunk. Yuccas grow naturally in the south where they receive plenty of sunshine. But growing yucca in containers is a great way to bring the outdoors inside. With the right houseplant care, you can ensure that you keep these formidable characters thriving for longer.
Indoor Yucca Plant Care Made Simple
Yucca houseplants have similar cultural needs as the desert succulent species commonly found in nurseries. In terms of optimum indoor yucca plant care, these plants aren’t fussy if they have the correct cultural conditions. Because of the potential height and spread of certain varieties, keeping a mature plant indoors may eventually present a challenge! But like all the best big houseplants, yucca are very slow-growing plants and can easily be grown in containers.
If you are thinking of growing yucca indoors, just bear in mind that certain cultivars have very sharp pointed leaves. So cultivar selection is important if you have pets or small children to consider.
Light and Warmth
Place an indoor yucca plant just away from a southern or western window, or where it will receive at least eight hours of sunlight. Poor sunlight can lead to yellow yucca leaves, while harsh noon rays can lead to loss of color. Yuccas growing indoors are tolerant of cool temperatures, but thrive where it is warm.
The indoor yucca plant is drought tolerant, but the best growth will come from regular hydration. Avoid watering directly on the leaves as this may promote fungal disease. They need to be watered when the top third of the compost is dry. Reduce watering by half in winter.
You can feed a yucca indoor plant in spring. Feed monthly with an N-P-K ratio of 3-1-2. If using a time-release fertilizer, feed every three months with a ratio of 19-6-12. Yucca are not heavy feeders but respond with moderate fertilizer. The soil or compost pH will affect efficient uptake of water and nutrients. A pH of around 5.5-6.5 is recommended.
Soil and Compost
One of the biggest issues with indoor yucca plant care is soil and compost. When choosing compost for your houseplants, go for one that is very well draining. Try a mixture of half-and-half sand and potting soil, or a purchased cactus food with a bit of peat added. Professional growers use a 3:1 peat and sand mixture. Purchased potting soil will not be able to hold canes upright and does not provide enough drainage.
Container Care for Indoor Yucca
When caring for yucca indoors, the size of the container will determine the size of the plant. Given enough room to grow, the plant will respond in kind. Conversely, smaller pots limit their size. To keep your indoor container plants alive, ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes. Do not set the container on a saucer where water can collect. Unglazed pots allow excess moisture to evaporate. The best time to transplant or repot is in spring.
How to Propagate Yucca Plants
You can propagate a yucca houseplant from cuttings. Use a sterile, sharp blade to remove a cane or stem. Spring and summer are the best times to take cuttings. Strip away the lower leaves, but leave a small crown of foliage at the top. Set the cutting in a cool, dry location to callus or dry before potting it up in the same medium as the parent plant.
You can also divide yucca plants to propagate more. Offsets (called pups) can develop at the base of certain parent plants. Remove the plant from its container (preferably outside) and remove the pup with a clean, sharp cut. A rooting compound may be applied to encourage root development on the baby, but is not necessary for most situations.
Indoor Yucca Plant Problems
The most common indoor yucca plant problems stem from incorrect watering. Too much moisture can lead to root rot. Usually, a drooping yucca plant will be your first clue that something is wrong. Watering directly on the leaves promotes a host of fungal diseases like gray leaf spot, brown leaf spot, and Southern blight. If the plant is moved outdoors for summer, it may also become infected with mealybugs, scale, thrips or weevils. Systemic soil drenches with a liquid insecticide are recommended as controls.
Best Yucca Houseplant Varieties
While you may be familiar with the distinctive shape of Yucca elephantipes, other yucca plant varieties do differ. The coloration ranges from green to bluish, with variegations of cream, yellow, and white, depending on the cultivar. Here are some of the most striking breeds to try:
- Spineless yucca (Yucca elephantipes) is a popular upright variety that works well in large planters.
- Adam’s Needle (Yucca filamentosa) is a flowering yucca. With the right care, Adam's Needle will bloom in summer.
- Weak-leaf yucca (Yucca flaccida) is a low-growing cultivar with leaves that tend to droop.
- Soapweed yucca (Yucca glauca) develops around a central rosette with pale green leaves.
- Banana yucca (Yucca baccata) is a clump-bearing variety, but the leaves are very sharp. For this reason, Banana yucca is not pet-friendly.
- Buckley’s yucca (Yucca constricta) has lots of very straight and narrow blueish-green leaves.
- Twistleaf yucca (Yucca rupicola) develops distinctive bright green leaves that bend, droop and curl.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Yucca Houseplant Grow Outdoors?
Caring for yucca plants as houseplants does not mean they have to stay indoors all year long. You can move the plant outside when temperatures have warmed in spring or summer. When moving container-based yucca outdoors, you should place them in an area with gentle morning sun and afternoon shade. Frost or freeze can damage the yucca houseplant, so remember to bring them back indoors as the cold weather of winter approaches.
Where is the Best Place to Grow Yucca?
Depending on the variety you choose, some yuccas prefer the outdoors. This is especially true of mature plants that have grown especially tall. However, several cultivars are perfectly content placed in a sunny or partly shaded location indoors. Bright, indirect light is best for leaf color.
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