How to Prune a Yucca

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Yuccas are among the most interesting and eccentric plants around, with weird and wonderful varieties. Some species of yuccas, however, are problem plants because they develop dense stands. Yuccas are evergreens that can present as shrubs or trees with tough, sword-shaped leaves and large clusters of white blossoms.


Yuccas generally don't need much pruning. However, trimming off dead flower stalks can be considered maintenance and is a simple issue.

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Meet the Yucca

Yuccas (​Yucca​ spp.) are tough and attractive plants that look great in most landscapes. With their rough textured leaves and unusual shapes, yuccas can easily become focal points in the garden. These shrubs can grow up to 15 feet tall or more. Its deep roots help it to survive drought and might account in part for its long lifetime. Some plants live hundreds of years.


Most yucca species produce clusters of white flowers that grow well above the leathery, sword-shaped, sharply pointed leaves. The blossoms are shaped like tulips and are extremely fragrant. They are pollinated by moths at night that take the opportunity to deposit their eggs in the blossoms' stigmas at the same time.

Meet Some Favorite Yuccas

One of the more popular yuccas to cultivate is Spanish bayonet (​Yucca aloifolia​), a yucca with upright stems that grow to 10 feet tall. This one should not be planted near walkways since the leaves live up to the plant's common name: They are over 2 feet long and sharply pointed like a dagger. The effect is softened by the white flower clusters that appear on tall stalks in summer.


Another popular yard yucca is Adam's needle (​Yucca filamentosa​), an extremely hardy plant that presents as a plant hedgehog of stiff, pointed leaves, some 30 inches tall and 1 inch wide. During the growing season, a long stalk appears in the center, growing up to 6 feet tall. This is the floral stalk which produces a lovely host of white, bell-shaped, lightly fragrant flowers.

Care for a Yucca

When you read that the yucca is a tough plant, take this seriously. These interesting plants need a site with full sun and good soil drainage, but very little else. They thrive in sandy soils and shrug off drought, heat, and humidity. Yuccas like dry soil and grow perfectly well in the desert wild without any type of irrigation other than that offered by nature.


Generally, yuccas do not require pruning. However, once a yucca plant flowers, the stem that bore the flower can be cut off the plant. After yucca plants bloom, a brown flower stalk is left behind. These can be trimmed off with sharp pruning shears — be sure to remove this if you live in a region that gets frequent rain. Otherwise, the stalks fall off the yucca, leaving holes that fill up with rain.



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