Plant of the Week
Every garden needs at least one dramatic plant to take center stage, and yucca, or Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa), fits the bill perfectly. The bold plant spares no expense when it comes to height and big blooms. Yucca celebrates the arrival of summer with flowering stalks that tower 5 to 8 feet above its tall, sword-shaped green leaves. Creamy, bell-shaped blooms nod lazily in the breezes of June and July. Though the plant is a showstopper, it’s not a diva. It is exceptionally tolerant of urban conditions and can take drought, heat, and blazing sun without the slightest bit of wilting.
Common name: Yucca, Adam’s needle
Botanical name: Yucca filamentosa
Plant type: Evergreen
Zones: 4 to 11
Height: Foliage is about 30 inches tall; flower stalk 4 to 8 feet
• Sun: Full sun; some tolerance for part shade
• Soil: Light, sandy, well-drained
• Moisture: Dry to medium
• Mulch: None needed.
• Pruning: Remove the flower stalk once blooming is done.
• Fertilizer: None needed.
• By seed or by division.
Pests and diseases
• No major insect or disease problems.
• Y. filamentosa looks great in borders, on dry slopes, and in dry garden areas.
• Yucca is very difficult to eradicate once it’s established, so plant it in a spot where you want it to stay permanently.
• A yucca plant will produce pups, or offshoots. You can leave these where they are or transplant them.
• A yucca hedge makes a very effective barrier.
All in the family
• The species name, filamentosa, refers to the twisted threadlike filaments at the edge of the leaves.
• A few other yucca species look very much like Y. filamentosa: weakleaf yucca (Y. flaccida), soapweed (Y. glauca), and Y. smalliana.
• Familiar plants related to the yucca include agave and Joshua tree.
Where to buy
• Forestfarm, Williams, OR, 541-846-7269, www.forestfarm.com
• Shooting Star Nursery, Georgetown, KY, 866-405-7979, www.shootingstarnursery.com
• SmartSeeds, Claremont, CA, 909-576-6206, www.smartseedstore.com
(Text by Elyse Lucas, photo courtesy of Kemper Center for Home Gardening at the Missouri Botanical Garden)
Friday, June 24, 2011 8:57 AM
Be sure when you plant the yucca it is where you want it. It is almost impossible to get rid of it once it is established. We "inherited" one at the house we bought and it is in the wrong place. We dug it out 5 years ago and it still sends up shoots. A well kept yucca in the right place is worth your effort for appeal.
Friday, June 24, 2011 12:22 PM
i have a tree that looks like the yucca ,it keeps growing taller ,gives pup lie shoots to branch out. only it never blooms out with flower stacks. could i have a joshua tree instead, i love it anyway no matter what . right now it is five feet tall with three 2-3 foot shoots off bottom trunk of main stalk.without a picture could you tell me.
Friday, June 24, 2011 12:25 PM
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, about above tree will be wait ing to hear from you.
Saturday, June 25, 2011 10:58 AM
will it grow in northern vermont?
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 12:03 PM
Could you please tell me the best way to transplant the "pups". Also, when is the best time to transplant a mature plant? I have a couple at a house we have moved out of and I'd like to bring them with me. The pups are coming from a plant that I moved over to this house a couple years ago, so I'd like to separate them from their "mother" plant. I live in St. Paul, MN, so our summers are rather short. THANKS for any advice you have for me.
Friday, July 01, 2011 1:00 AM
Once you have a Yucca. You have a Yucca FOREVER! One little and I mean little root left it the ground anywhere and it will come back. I had Yucca's in my front yard over 10 yrs ago and dug them up and I still have Yucca's coming up. Actually I just dug several up today and just threw them over the the hill in my back yard (and they grow).
Just dig a hole and plant the root where you want it and your have Yucca's forever (nothing kills them). As far as I know anytime you can plant them I've dug them out a several different times (when I find them) and have transplanted them in Spring, summer, and fall and have not had any problem. So fellow gardeners make sure you really like them because you will never get rid of them once you plant one!
Wednesday, July 06, 2011 4:13 PM
I have a yucca in my side yard. It gets afternoon sun yet it has failed to bloom. It is about 5' tall now and it's trunk (note I said trunk) is about 6". It send up many pups.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 5:19 PM
I have dug them all out of my mother's garden; too many in one spot, to have them come back the next season, They are hardy and dowell in dry, hot spots. But they will take over a area as well . if not kept under control .
Saturday, July 30, 2011 1:34 PM
I also have several yuccas that I "inherited" on my property and yes they are impossible to kill. i have dug them out this year and last year, (we own a backhoe) and they stillgrow back. are they good for anything besides looking pretty when they bloom? and does anybody know how to get rid of them?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 10:33 AM
Thanks for all the info on how hardy these plants are. I have two in pots that get more shade than sun, they both have bloomed and living in the CA sierra Nevada mountains they always get snowed on. It's nice to know the weather conditions arn't going to kill them because they wern't cheap and I would like to see them get bigger and send out more pups. So far they have stayed at only at two feet tall.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 3:44 PM
I'm not sure, but you may need to put them in a bigger pot or in the ground for them to be able to grow bigger and/or put out pups. i have about 8 more u can have :-) lol
Thursday, August 18, 2011 8:51 PM
How to kill a Yucca plant:
1.) I let one of the sprouts grow until the leaves were about as long as my forearm.
2.) I gathered them up into a bunch and held them together with a rubber band.
3.) I cut the tops off the leaves with scissors.
4.) Filled a large plastic cup with Round UP (possibly the long-term plant killing kind, I can’t remember)
5.) Submerged the leaf-tops several inches deep in Round UP.
6) Weighed them down with a big rock so they would stay in the cup.
7.) Covered the cup with plastic so rain wouldn’t dilute the RoundUp. (Make sure that some of the leaves are exposed to sunlight because photosynthesis is how RoundUP works, I think).
8.) Waited about a month.
Thursday, August 18, 2011 9:12 PM
..."are they good for anything besides looking pretty when they bloom?"...
The leaves, stems and roots of this plant can be used to stun fish.
Friday, August 26, 2011 9:16 AM
Can you cut the leaves off if they are looking dead? My grandma has one and is wondering if there is a fertilizer that might help to make them look better. Please help!
Monday, September 05, 2011 7:56 AM
Are They good for anything? Eat the roots for type 2 diabetes.
Thursday, September 15, 2011 7:39 PM
I have one that is 6 years old and will not bloom. It is in full sun, and looks healthy.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 2:45 PM
xkanenas ..I have used the flower stalks for decoration,painted white an change hanging ornaments for the season. this year I'm going to leave the opened pods and see how they look.
Thursday, January 12, 2012 8:49 AM
how difficult are they to start from seed and how long will they take to sprout and grow? I have a few thousand seeds and people who want me to start the seeds for them, but if its going to take a long time to start the seeds i don't really want to start them.
Thursday, January 12, 2012 11:33 AM
I would just give the seeds to the people who want them started and let them do it themselves. or just chop off a hunk of the root and give it to them to plant -it will come up next spring.
Monday, May 07, 2012 12:05 AM
I live in Maryland and looking for a nice plant to go behind the waterfall on my swimming pool. Just wondering would they grow in my climate.
Monday, May 07, 2012 11:36 AM
I am pretty sure they would grow in Maryland. not sure about the water though. Anyone else?
Wednesday, August 01, 2012 9:13 AM
I lived in michigan. i moved into this house three yrs ago. it already had yucca here. last year it had flower. not sure if i suppose to cut the stick?
now it die i think even the new leaves was coming in, due to hot weather. i trim the leaves that was dead. not sure if it die, it just turn brown. will be grow next spring? what should i do?
Sunday, March 17, 2013 12:19 PM
I have a yucca plant it grows about 6ft I'v had it for 3 years now i really like it.When it blooms its got white flowers on it.I cut mine back to almost nothing and it blooms every year.