There is no question as to why the yucca has exploded in popularity over the last few years.
Bright green attractive foliage and the ability to withstand long periods of drought make the yucca an excellent choice for just about any home garden. As most species of yucca originate from central America, they thrive in similar conditions which are in most cases not overly difficult to provide.
The yucca can tolerate a large range of climates including both warmer and cooler, but they prefer higher temperatures, lots of sun and dry air. The only climates that yuccas cannot tolerate are that of extreme cold and wet.
Yuccas prefer full sun and little water, so any location you can provide with these properties is suitable. Yuccas can also be grown indoors providing that they are in an area that is exposed to direct sunlight for at least half of the day. Care must be taken to ensure that indoor yuccas are not overwatered.
Suitable Soil for yuccas
Due to their intolerance of moisture, yuccas cannot withstand constantly damp soil, and therefore need a well drained bedding. The best soil types for yuccas include sandy gritty soil and regular potting mix, providing that it does not compact too easily. Soil ph balance is best at 5.5 to 7.5.
Yuccas can be propagated by means of both cuttings and seeds. Both methods are considered reliable, but cuttings are probably easier and certainly most preferred. It can take quite a while to propagate yuccas from seed or cutting, so prepare to be patient.
Growing yuccas from cutting
To propagate a new yucca using the cutting method, you will first need to wait until the plant has produced a new shoot. You can use one of the main shoots on the yucca, but this may render the plant unattractive. The chosen shoot should have multiple leaves at least 10 centimetres long. Cut the shoot as close to the main trunk of the yucca as possible.
Remove all of the leaves near the bottom of the stalk, leaving only a few at the top. Dip the base of the stalk in rooting hormone, and bury the base in potting mix. Water the soil, and make sure that the soil stays barely moist on a permanent basis (obviously the soil will be wet after watering each time). Keep the cutting out of direct sunlight as this can ruin any chance of the plant taking.
Yucca cuttings can take anywhere between six to ten weeks to sprout roots and take to their new soil.
Do not re-pot your new yucca until well after the plant has taken to the soil in order to avoid damaging it.
Growing yuccas from seed
Yucca seeds can take up to a year to germinate, although some varieties can sprout within a week or two. Soak your yucca seeds in water for 24 hours before planting.Plant the yucca seeds one centimetre deep in well draining potting mix spaced 10 centimetres apart. The amount of time that the yucca seeds will take to sprout will vary depending on the type of yucca used. Seed packets usually offer general information about propogation.
Growing potted yuccas
Potted yuccas are a common sight in many houses and gardens and are usually just as hardy in a pot as they would be in the ground. Pots chosen for growing a yucca in should have sufficient drainage holes and be no rounder than the the largest leaf ball of the plant. Over-sized pots may cause excess moisture to be retained in the soil leading to root rot and other problems.
Common diseases that affect yucca
Yuccas are commonly affected by a number of fungal diseases. These diseases can have a range of effects on the yucca such as gray or brown spots / patches on the leaves (especially old leaves) or rotting or the stem. These diseases are caused by different types of bacteria. If you see any of these traits in your yucca, remove any affected leaves from both the plant and its surrounding soil and spray the plant with copper fungicide, which can be purchased from most plant nurseries.
Yuccas require very little effort to maintain, making them a great plant for the lazy gardener and are a popular choice for drought affected areas. Aside from watering and a rare dose of fertiliser, yuccas require extremely low care. Dead and unhealthy leaves can be removed as needed to help maintain a yuccas appearance but if left on the plant, these leaves with not cause any health problems.
Yuccas originate from very dry areas and therefore do not appreciate a lot of water. It can vary from plant to plant, but most yuccas need no more than a cup of water every week or two when growing in a pot, and more water less frequently when growing in your garden. In winter depending on whether they get any rain or not, yuccas may not require any water at all. In areas with a lot of rainfall you may need to remove your yucca from its designated area and put it in a sheltered area to avoid natural overwatering.
Early signs of an over-watered yucca are lighter green to yellowish colouring of the leaves and rotting of the lower stem near and below the soil.
Being a reasonably slow growing plant, a yucca does not require very much fertilizer at all. The most suitable fertilizer for yucca is cactus or yucca fertilizer, although various manures and complete fertilizers can also offer good results. Yuccas should be fertilized in warmer months every month or so using only a verysmall handful of fertilizer. In autumn and winter yuccas require very little fertilizer, usually one or two applications between both seasons will be fine. Faster growing species may require more fertilizer than the amounts shown above.
Tear away any old damaged leaves near the base of the yucca and keep the topsoil around the stem of the plant free of excess mulch to avoid fungal rot. If you choose to remove any of the yuccas off-shoots, be sure to propagate them, it would be a shame to waste a good yucca.
The yucca troubleshooting page may answer any questions you have about yucca health problems.