Yucca Plant Care: Growing The Versatile Yucca Tree

Yucca is a genus of trees and shrubs belonging to the Asparagaceae family. The plants are native to the Caribbean Islands and the Americas.

There are 49 documented and accepted species and various subspecies, none of which have any botanical relationship to yuca (single c) or cassava. [1]

Yuca is a root vegetable that prefers tropical and subtropical climates and is mostly cultivated for culinary purposes.

Yucca Plant growing outdoors in landscapePin

Not all species of Yucca have everyday names or nicknames, but from the ones that do, these are the most recognizable names:

  • Banana Yucca
  • Joshua tree
  • Spanish bayonet
  • Mojave Yucca
  • Blue Yucca
  • Twist-leaf Yucca

Growing Yucca Plants

Although they prefer mostly arid climates, various species also seem to thrive in mountain areas, coastal sandy regions, prairies, and rocky badlands.

Depending on the environment, they will grow to different appearances.

Some Yucca plants will have more succulent leaves while others will be characterized by thick roots used to trap water.

Others will have an oily quality on the leaves, which helps prevent water from evaporating in desert climates.

Depending on where they grow and what species they belong to, Yucca plants vary a lot in height.

Some plants don’t grow more than 24” inches tall while others can reach up to 30′ feet in height.

The plants are quite adaptive and robust and they’re known for their propensity to spread with ease after wildfires.

They can also withstand temperatures as low as 10° degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to soil requirements, different species may have different preferences.

However, due to their robust nature, the plants are quite forgiving as long as the soil is not too compact and drains well, as the plants don’t react well to excessive amounts of water.

Grooming is not always necessary. When the leaves start dying, they fall off wild Yucca plants and make room for new ones to grow.

The dead leaves protect the base of the plant from direct sunlight exposure.

How To Propagate Yucca

Yucca plants can be propagated in a variety of ways. However, one method is not recommended for landscaping or interior decorating – planting seeds.

Seeds take too long to germinate and Yucca plants are not known for their rapid growth rate.

The best way to propagate Yucca plants is by root division or by planting stem cuttings.

The cuttings should be allowed to dry for a couple of hours before being planted in moist soil.

If you favor root cuttings, make sure to cut sections of around 3 or 4 inches from the rhizome.

You should see some development within a month.

Caring For Yuccas

If the leaves on your Yucca plant turn yellow or simply get old, you can cut them to encourage new ones to grow.

This isn’t always necessary but it is helpful as some of the yellow leaves may be diseased instead of just old.

Caring for Yucca plants is typically simple, which is why the plants are considered entry-level landscaping and household ornamental pieces.

For indoor plants, a high concentration of sand and perlite in the soil is preferred.

Rich soil is not necessary as it’s more important for the roots to not stay wet.

In fact, only two feedings or liquid nutrients are enough – one in early spring and one in the summer.

Although Yucca plants are known for their adaptability to temperature variations, it’s not a good idea to move indoor plants outside or the other way around.

Once the plant is acclimated to a certain environment, it’s best to leave it there all year round.

Pests, Diseases, Or Problems Yucca Plants Encounter

Not even spider mites seem to be attracted to Yucca plants which makes them even easier to care for.

And, as far as diseases go, there’s not a lot to worry about except for root rot from overwatering and drainage issues.

Tips, Tricks, And Suggestions About Yucca Plants

When using Yucca plants in landscaping, you shouldn’t place them in high traffic areas. The tips of the leaves are very sharp [2] and they cut easily through clothes.

You want to leave them with plenty of room to develop in all directions.

Even though some species only grow to about 4′ feet tall, the foliage can extend up to 3′ feet across.

When propagating Yucca plants from stem cuttings, you may need to use pruning putty to protect the cut end.

Even if you allow it to dry out naturally, Yucca doesn’t heal as well as other household and landscaping plants.

Best Ways To Use In Design – Indoors Or Outdoors

Using Yucca plants indoors is a great way to add some life to a household.

The plants are big and bold and can improve the air quality a great deal. Depending on the species, the plants can be grown like bushes or trees.

Although a Yucca plant can be used as a piece of a larger ensemble, its stature and impressive foliage can make an impression even when used as a standalone piece.

But since they can grow quite tall and develop rich foliage, they also look amazing outside.

Yucca plants are often used in landscaping to add unique accents to certain areas in the yard.

However, they’re not used alongside pavements, near doors, or gates.

Because of how big outdoor Yucca plants can grow, you don’t want to use too many of them.

They can create a lot of dead space, as in shaded ground where you can’t grow anything else.

Buying Tips

One of the first things to look out for when searching for Yucca plants is a wobbling cane.

Make sure that the plant is well-rooted before you make a purchase as that’s a sign of good health and proper care.

You should also ask when the plant was last watered.

This is important when buying potted plants because it helps you determine the health of the root system. In terms of where to find them,

Yucca plants for outdoor use can be found in almost any landscaping supply store.

Seeds and cuttings can be purchased online or in various garden supply or even home improvement stores.

What Are The Most Popular Yucca Species And Varieties?

Not all Yucca species do well indoors.

One of the most popular species for indoor use is Yucca elephantipes or spineless Yucca plant, a native of Guatemala and Mexico.

It can thrive as an indoor houseplant and it’s one of the most forgiving when it comes to taking care of it.

The Banana Yucca which bears fruits similar to agave or banana grows up to 5′ feet high.

They can be amazing focal points in open fields or fairly empty areas beyond the beaten path.

The Blue Yucca also makes a great landscaping ornament on large estates.

It can grow up to 15′ feet tall and its foliage can reach about 6′ feet across.

The blue spear-like leaves with silver highlights are truly eye-catching.


There are too many species of Yucca plants to go through before you can make a definite decision as to which one will look best in your home or garden.

However, almost all of the 49 species are easy to get a hold of, provided, of course, that you live in a climate suitable for growing them.