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Yucca

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  • Indoor Plants
Yucca filifera 'Golden Sword'
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Robert Mineau)
Yucca filifera 'Golden Sword'
  • Yucca filifera 'Golden Sword'
  • Yucca filifera 'Golden Sword'

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

Yucca is native to the arid regions of the southern United States and Central America. This tree-like plant can grow to over seven metres in the wild. The stiff, sharply pointed leaves form a dense rosette. The inflorescence is close to one metre long and bears many white bell-shaped blossoms at the end of a long stalk. As a houseplant, yucca is smaller in size.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Yucca aloifolia 'Marginata' has sharp white-edged leaves. This cultivar is rarely grown indoors. Yucca elephantipes has more flexible, less pointed leaves than Yucca aloifolia. This species is generally more popular because it is less dangerous in busier locations.

Toxicity

The sharply pointed leaves can cause physical injury. As a precaution, keep this plant out of the reach of children.

Common name

Yucca / Spanish bayonet / Dagger plant

Latin name (genus)

Yucca aloifolia

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Agavaceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

Place yucca in a bright, sunny location. It does best in a south-facing window. Ideal temperatures are 20 to 24ºC in summer and 12 to 14ºC in winter to give it a rest period. Temperatures should never go below 10ºC. It can be moved outdoors in summer after an acclimatization period to a sunny or partially shaded spot.

Easy to grow?

Yucca is easy to grow provided it is given bright light and is not overwatered. It also tolerates lower light conditions but will get leggy and die after a few years. It will not bloom indoors.

Watering and fertilizer

Yucca tolerates too little better than too much water. Water regularly in spring and summer and allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Yucca is very prone to root rot, so avoid leaving water standing in the saucer. In winter, water sparingly, just enough to prevent the soil from drying out completely. If the plant is in a sunny location and is growing well, fertilize two to three times during the growing period (March to October) with a balanced indoor plant food or an all-purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20. Do not fertilize in winter.

Pruning and maintenance

If the plant becomes too tall, you can prune it by cutting the trunk back. New rosettes will form at the tip of the woody stems. Remove old, yellowed leaves.

Repotting

Repot young specimens every spring. Use a heavy, stable pot to prevent the plant from tipping over. When the pot becomes too bulky to handle easily (40 cm or greater in diameter), repot the plant every two to three years.  In the other years you can replenish the soil at the surface as necessary instead of repotting. The potting mix should be light, fertile and well drained. Use a soil mix consisting of equal parts peat moss, potting soil and coarse sand.

See also

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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