The Yucca plant (Yucca elephantipes), also known as the Spineless Yucca, is a beautiful sculptural plant that grows well indoors. A good choice for beginners, they are adaptable and yucca plant care is straightforward.
The plants are so named because their leaves don’t have spines like most Yucca varieties. Yucca elephantipes will make a slow-growing, low-maintenance addition to your houseplant collection.
These visually arresting plants are native to Central America and the Caribbean, and can live with incredibly low levels of water, making them an ideal gift for that friend who always kills their houseplants.
Given the right care, mature specimens can erupt in the most incredible tower of white, bell-shaped flowers. However, this is less common in specimens grown indoors.
Most of the Yucca plant can also be used as food if correctly prepared – but some parts are highly toxic.
Read on to learn all there is to know about Yucca plant care and making the most of this amazing plant indoors.
Yuccas like full sunlight but can handle part shade. If given too little light, Yucca will not be able to grow to their full size and may become spindly and weak looking.
They do like the light to be indirect, however, and their leaf coloring will be better with indirect light than if in direct sunlight for too much of the day, which may cause some browning or spotting of the leaves. Position your Yucca plant in a bright room, where they’re not hit by full sunlight for most of the day.
Yuccas are native to the deserts of Central America and the Caribbean, where it can get very hot and very cold at different times of the year, or even from day to night. Yuccas are quite resistant to huge temperature variations, one of the reasons they’re easy houseplants to keep.
A good temperature range to keep them happy indoors is 50-80oF (10-27oC).
Yuccas may grow a little better in moderate humidity or with some misting, but they’re tolerant of dry air as well. If you’re looking for a plant that can hang out in an air-conditioned room or near a fireplace, or you live in a country with hot summers and cold winters, Yuccas may be the answer.
The Yucca is drought tolerant – resistant to even the most forgetful of houseplant owners. Never let it sit in water and ensure it’s able to drain water away easily.
Between spring and autumn, allow the top of the soil to dry out between waterings. In winter, don’t water more than every few weeks at most.
One of the few issues that can affect the Yucca plant is a fungal infection if overwatered or due to poor drainage. Yuccas have been known to survive years without water – although regular water in the correct amounts will make for a happier, healthier specimen.
Your Yucca wants well-drained soil, so it doesn’t sit in water, but other than that it’s pretty easygoing and has no specific pH requirements. Mix some perlite or sand into a regular potting mix to allow for better drainage and call it a day. A 2:1 ratio of potting mix to additive should be sufficient.
Because Yuccas can grow to be monstrous in size you may occasionally have to prune the Yucca back to keep it at a reasonable size. Yucca elephantipes is the largest of the Yucca varieties, capable of growing up to 30ft high outdoors but more usually to about 10ft indoors.
Pruning the Yucca is a bit different from pruning the average houseplant. You’ll have to remove the plant from the pot and use a small saw or heavy pruning shears – depending on the thickness of the trunk – to cut off the leafy top to a section at least 4 inches long.
You can plant up the cuttings in a new pot with the aid of rooting hormone.
You can propagate Yuccas in a variety of ways, including the stem cuttings method mentioned above. You can also propagate them by division, root cuttings and seeds. Yucca seeds are slow to sprout, and dividing out rhizomes is a quicker method, more likely to see growth in about a month.
Pests & problems
Yuccas are considered to be quite resistant to most pests and diseases. Most bugs that attack Yuccas will be minor problems, but if you do spot any, it’s best to treat them just in case. Some of the normal pests may show up – aphids, mealybugs, scale and mites. Neem oil can deal with all of these common pests and is a natural alternative to chemicals.
Agave plant bugs and Yucca weevils are more unusual pests that affect the Yucca plant. Agave plant bugs may cause brown spots by feeding on the juices of the Yucca, and are relatively large at ½ an inch long, so easy to spot. Insecticidal soap sprayed straight on the bugs over a few weeks should get rid of them.
Yucca weevils are the most difficult to manage if the infestation isn’t caught early, as they burrow into the crown of the plant and are very hard to get out. If you spot punch holes in the plant, this is a sign of the weevils. If the infestation takes hold, you can use a systemic insecticide to treat it, but do your best to catch it as early as possible.
Yucca can be toxic if ingested by your pets – dogs and cats may vomit if they’ve ingested the plant, so keep it out of reach of animals.
For humans, some parts of the plant are edible and highly nutritious, while some parts are highly toxic – mainly the sap. Make sure you check recommendations for cooking Yucca if you decide to consume, and don’t leave children unattended with the plant or let them chew on it.
Common questions about the Yucca plant care
Should I fertilize my Yucca plant?
You can fertilize your Yucca during the growing season with a half strength liquid fertilizer, once a month, or according to instructions.
Will my Yucca plant bloom?
A mature Yucca plant should bloom given the right conditions. If you’re keen to get your Yucca blooming, make sure you’re giving it a phosphorous-rich fertilizer regularly, and be sure not to overwater your Yucca as fungal infections can prevent it from blooming.
Remember, it does have to be a mature Yucca plant to bloom – it may take a few years to reach this stage, so patience may be all that’s required if you have a young plant.