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Looking for a lush, stately houseplant that won’t mind if you forget about it for a few weeks—or a few months? The yucca plant (Yucca spp.) is for you. In addition to creating a charming desert chic vibe to any space, it’s an easy-to-grow plant that’s very tolerant of neglect.
This spiky evergreen plant typically grows outdoors in hot, sunny conditions, but a few of the 40 or so species of yucca plants in the world are commonly grown in containers indoors, such as Yucca aloifolia and Yucca guatemalensis. Many indoor yucca plants have the palm tree-like look of dragon tree (Dracaena) plants.
In addition to long, lance-shaped leaves, yucca grows sprays of creamy white, bell-shaped flowers. However, specimens grown indoors are less likely to flower than those grown outside in full sun.
Best Growing Conditions for Your Yucca Plant
Yucca plants grow best in bright, indirect light, but they can also thrive in full sun—after all, they are desert plants. That makes your yucca a great candidate for a south-facing or west-facing window that gets strong, direct sunlight that would be too much for your other plants.
Because they’re so well adapted to desert conditions, yucca plants can withstand a wide range of temperatures—anywhere from just above freezing to hot, dry conditions in the 90-degree range—so they can go pretty much anywhere in your space.
Plant your yucca in a well-drained potting soil such as a succulent or cactus mix. You can also make your own blend by combining regular potting mix with equal parts coarse sand and perlite to help with drainage.
It’s a good idea to pick a spot for your yucca that’s out of reach of cats, dogs, and small children, as the plant is toxic to people and pets.
How to Care for Your Yucca Plant
Since they’re desert plants, yuccas are naturally very tolerant of drought conditions. That means that they should be able to withstand mild neglect, even in a hot, dry climate.
Ideally, you’ll water your yucca plant every one to two weeks during the spring and summer growing season, depending on the climate in your space. In the fall and winter, you’ll be able to cut back watering to once every two to three weeks.
Check the soil regularly to get a feel for your plant’s water needs. Water only when the soil has completely dried out, and make sure the plant fully drains excess water before you put it back in its saucer or tray. Soggy soils will lead to root rot, which can kill your plant.
In terms of feeding, yuccas don’t need much fertilizer. However, you can use a balanced, low-nitrogen fertilizer diluted to half-strength once or twice a year. Take care not to fertilize recently transplanted or propagated yucca plants until they are fully established.
If you have an outdoor space, such as a patio, balcony, fire escape, backyard, or even a sunny front porch, it’s a good idea to move your yucca outside for the summer. In the fall, when temperatures drop, give the plant a once-over before bringing it back inside for the winter.
How to Propagate Your Yucca Plant
Mature, established yucca plants will grow baby plants, or offsets—the easiest way to propagate yucca plants. Yucca can also be propagated via stem cuttings, and the process is very similar for both methods. It’s ideal to take stem cuttings from your yucca in the spring, when the plant is actively growing, but offsets can be propagated year-round.
How to Propagate Your Yucca Plant Via Offsets or Stem Cuttings
To do this, you’ll need a mature plant, a small pot with drainage holes, appropriate potting mix for yuccas, and clean, sharp shears or pruners.
Step 1: Identify a yucca offset or healthy stem on the mother plant that you’d like to propagate. If possible, wait until the offset has roots, as it will establish more quickly than an offset without roots, but any offset that has at least a quarter-inch of stem will work.
Step 2: Cut off the offset, including any roots, or cut a portion of stem that’s at least three inches long. Remove the bottom few inches of leaves from the stem cutting.
Step 3: Place both offsets and stem cuttings in a shady, dry place for a few days. This will allow the cut sections to callus over.
Step 4: Fill the pot with potting mix. Plant offsets and cuttings in the soil.
Step 5: Put the cuttings in a cool place with bright, indirect light. Wait two weeks to water.
Step 6: After two weeks, water every seven to 14 days. Offsets and stem cuttings may take anywhere from one to three months to root. At that point, they can be potted up and cared for as usual.