How to Grow Yucca Plant (Adam's Needle)

A potted yucca plant on a table near a window

Grumpy Cow Studios / Getty Images

Looking for a lush, stately houseplant that won't mind if you forget about it for a few weeks? Then the yucca plant (Yucca gigantea), or Adam's Needle, is ideal for you. In addition to adding a desert chic vibe to any space, this hardy plant requires 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 high outside, you might be thankful for its more manageable size in the house.

Read on for how to care for your yucca, including how to 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: 3–10 feet high
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun; tolerates low light
  • Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5–7.5
  • Toxicity: Toxic to people and pets
A yucca plant in a gray pot with spiky green leaves
Farhad Ibrahimzade / Getty Images

Plant Care

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. 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 that 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.

Refrain from fertilizing a recently transplanted or propagated yucca plant until it's fully established.

Best Growing Conditions for 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 south- or west-facing windows with direct sunlight that would be too much for 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 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 an air conditioner during the 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, which can grow to heights of 40 feet in its natural environment.

The dagger plant (Yucca aloifolia), or Spanish bayonet, 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 look similar to a palm tree or dragon tree (Dracaena).

Soapweed yucca (Yucca glauca) grows as individual shrubs up to four feet high, 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 habit, 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 sunny window to soak up all the nutrients it needs in a consistent climate year-round.

How to Propagate 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'll 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, and 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. 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.

Is Yucca Plant Toxic?

Article Sources
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  1. North Carolina Extension. "Yucca flacida."

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