How to Prune Outdoor Yucca Plants

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A thriving yucca (​Yucca​ spp.) with deep green, sword-shaped leaves is a focal point in any garden. Typically, a yucca is extremely low maintenance and happy as long as it has full sun, hot temperatures, and well-draining soil. Though it's not absolutely necessary to keep the plant healthy, pruning yucca can keep it looking its best by removing damaged leaves and spent flowering stalks. Pruning is also an easy way to collect a cutting and propagate your yucca.

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Pruning Yucca Plants

Get your shears ready to prune yucca in the early spring. Removing dead and damaged foliage before the growing season will give the yucca plenty of time to recover from the pruning so it can direct its energy toward new growth.

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Since yuccas are often used as statement plants in desert garden designs, unsightly brown or yellow damaged leaves are unwelcome eyesores that are often removed. Yucca leaf damage can result from underwatering, overwatering, too little sunshine, and exposure to cold temperatures. Lower leaves will also discolor as a natural part of aging. While pruning is a quick and effective way to remove blemished leaves, make sure to address the cause of the damage to keep your yucca thriving.

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To prune, use clean, sharp garden shears and cut at an angle. When removing damaged foliage, make a quick cut at the point where the damage ends or you can remove the entire leaf by cutting as close to the trunk as possible. Be careful not to damage the trunk.

Deadheading Yucca Plants

As if the bold yucca foliage wasn't attention-grabbing enough, yuccas also produce a 3- to 8-foot-tall flowering stalk that blooms in July and August. Bell-shaped, creamy flowers drape down the statuesque stalk for a spectacular visual. Once these flowers naturally fall away, the bare stalk is less visually appealing.

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Once flowering is finished, deadhead the spent stalk by pruning it at its base just above the ground. Left alone, this deadwood will stay in place and remain unsightly for two to three years.

Propagating Yucca Plants

There are several different ways to propagate a yucca plant, including from the root system, offsets, and stem cuttings. The latter two options will require your pruning shears.

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Offsets are growths that appear at the base of the yucca, but they originate from rhizomes underneath the ground. These rhizomes survive from nutrients provided by the original root system. Using your sharp gardening shears, cut the offset growth where it joins the main rhizome. Let it dry for a couple days before adding it to your propagation system.

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Alternatively, you could simply cut your yucca plant from the top. Get your garden shears and make a cut that totals no more than about 9 3/4 inches (25 centimeters) from the top of the yucca. Make your propagation cutting in the spring so the original plant has the growing season to recover. When your cuttings develop roots, you have a new yucca plant to give to a gardening friend or to plant in your gardenscape.

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