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Looking for a lush, stately houseplant that won’t mind if you forget about it for a few weeks? The yucca plant, or Adam's Needle (Yucca gigantea), is for you. In addition to adding a charming desert chic vibe to any space, this hardy plant is very tolerant of little maintenance.
In addition to its long, lance-shaped leaves, yucca grows sprays of white, bell-shaped flowers. If you're growing this large plant indoors, your yucca may be less likely to flower—but since it can grow to 10 feet tall outside, you might be thankful for its more manageable size in the house.
Read on for the best tips to grow your yucca to its best, and propagate it when it's time to create new plants.
- Botanical Name: Yucca gigantea
- Common Name: Yucca plant, Adam's Needle
- Plant Type: Perennial tree
- Mature Size: Three to ten feet tall
- Sun Exposure: Full sun, tolerates low light
- Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
- Soil pH: 5.5 to 7.5
- Toxicity: Toxic
How to Care for Your Yucca Plant
Since they're native to the desert, yuccas are very tolerant of drought-like conditions. These easy-to-grow plants can withstand mild neglect, even in a dry climate. They're great houseplants if you travel often, but like most plants, yuccas thrive with more care.
This plant grows best when watered every one to two weeks during the spring and summer growing seasons. During this time of year, you may even find white flowers blooming within the leaves. Cut back to watering about every three weeks in the fall and winter.
Check the soil regularly to get a feel for your plant’s water needs. Water when the soil has dried out, and ensure the plant drains before placing it back in its tray. Soggy soils can lead to root rot, which is especially harmful to desert plants.
Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer diluted to half-strength monthly during the spring and summer. Your yucca plant won't need any feeding during the winter, and you'll also want to refrain from fertilizing a recently-transplanted or propagated yucca until it is fully established.
Pick a spot for your yucca that’s out of reach of cats, dogs, and small children, as this plant is toxic to people and pets.
Best Growing Conditions for Your Yucca Plant
Yuccas grow best in bright, indirect light, but they can also thrive in full sun. That makes your yucca a great candidate for those south- or west-facing windows with direct sunlight that would be too much for your other plants.
If you have an outdoor space like a patio, balcony, backyard, or front porch, it’s a good idea to move your yucca outside for the summer. These plants can withstand a wide range of temperatures—anywhere from just above freezing to hot, dry conditions around 90-degrees—so they can flourish in most indoor and outdoor spaces. If it's been outside for the season, check for any mites or infestations on the plant before bringing it back inside.
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. Using a terra cotta pot with drainage holes is helpful to keep the moisture levels even, as this porous material soaks up excess water.
Moderate humidity isn't necessary for this plant, but it does encourage healthy growth. While you don't need to mist its leaves, it's best to keep your yucca at least a few feet away from the air conditioner during summer months to keep it from drying out.
Yucca Plant Varieties
This spiky evergreen plant typically grows outdoors in hot, sunny conditions, but many of the nearly 50 species of yucca are commonly grown indoors. If you're an outdoor enthusiast, you're likely already familiar with one popular variety: the Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia). Named for this token species, the Joshua Tree National Park in California is filled with this variety that can grow to heights of 40 feet in its natural, outdoor environment.
The dagger plant, or Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia) is another variant found on the opposite coast. This species grows in tall, bushy clusters with white flowers during the growing season. The spineless yucca (Yucca guatemalensis), on the other hand, grows naturally as a tall tree—up to 30 feet—in Central America. Many indoor yucca plants have the palm tree-like look of dragon tree (Dracaena) plants.
Soapweed yucca (Yucca glauca) grows as individual shrubs up to four feet tall, with thin, spiky leaves characteristic of this species. While it looks comparable to the soapweed variant, bear grass yucca (Yucca filamentosa) is actually more similar to Adam's needle in its growth habits, being two of the few variants in this family that have adapted to extremely cold temperatures.
If you live in an area with mild weather, your yucca plant can thrive outdoors (even in the winter)—but this plant will do best inside near a bright, sunny window to soak up all the nutrients it needs in a consistent climate year-round.
How to Propagate Your Yucca Plant
When your yucca has reached its mature size, you'll likely start finding baby plants (or offsets) beginning to grow. You can propagate your plant to create new growth by separating offsets or cutting stems, which both require a similar method. It's best to take stem cuttings in the spring when the plant is actively growing, but offsets can be propagated year-round.
To propagate your yucca, you’ll need a mature plant, a small pot with drainage holes, potting mix, and a set of clean, sharp gardening pruners or shears.
Step 1: Identify the yucca offset or healthy stem on the mother plant that you’d like to propagate. If it's possible to wait until the offset has roots, it will establish more quickly (but any offset with at least a quarter-inch of stem will grow into a new plant).
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 or stem cuttings in a shady, dry place for a few days. This will allow the cut sections to callus as they grow stronger before planting.
Step 4: Fill the pot with potting mix. Plant offsets or cuttings in the soil, ensuring at least part of the stems are submerged in the fresh mix.
Step 5: Put the cuttings in a cool place with indirect light. Water thoroughly when first planted, then avoid watering until the soil becomes completely dry.
Step 6: Water sparingly (or about every one to two weeks). Water only when the top inch of soil is dry, as too much moisture can cause root rot. Hold off fertilizing until the plant is established, and keep new cuttings away from direct sunlight while waiting for a strong root system to grow. At that point, they can be transferred to new pots and cared for as usual.