How to Grow Yuccas Indoors

How to Grow Yuccas Indoors

Yuccas make great house plants. They bloom profusely, help clean indoor air and add vivid green color all year round. Yucca that grow in zones 10 and 11 will thrive indoors with specific care.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Rachel Klein cautions you, "Some varieties of yucca have very sharp spines on their leaf tips that can be potentially dangerous for children, pets, and even gardeners. When shopping for a houseplant variety, make sure to choose a spineless one."

Step 1 - Choose a Yucca that Will Thrive in Your Conditions

Two varieties of the spineless yucca (yucca recurvifolia and yucca elephantipes) are excellent indoor plants. They can tolerate a wide temperature range as long as they have adequate sunlight.

Step 2 - Plant in a Large Container

Yucca out their leaves from canes (a slender stem like a tree trunk), so they need room for their roots to spread in a circle. Choose a waterproof container such as brass, copper, stainless steel or heavy glass. The container should be at least 12 inches deep and up to 17 inches wide. A wider container will cause the yucca to sway and droop.

TIP: Rachel advises, "Because the yucca is so top-heavy, choose a heavy container or place heavy stones in the bottom the pot to keep it from tipping over."

Plant in a moist potting soil, with 2 inches of gravel in the bottom of the pot to enable effective drainage. Add vermiculite or crushed aquarium stone to the soil if it is too wet.

Step 3 - Provide a Bright Sunlight Source

The spineless yucca prefers the brightest unfiltered sunlight, so set it near sunny windows that face west or south. If the yucca does not receive enough sunlight, it may not grow at all. In summer, move it outdoors where it can get full ultraviolet light. Windows will filter some of the UV rays, causing the foliage to turn a paler green in color.

Step 4 - Give Water Consistently but Sparingly

In a well-lit location, the yucca will need water when the top 1/3 of the pot is dry. Let the soil crack a bit on top before thoroughly watering.

TIP: Rachel suggests, "Do not attempt to increase the humidity. Though yucca look tropical, they actually thrive in dry air."

In low light conditions, you can water less often, when the soil has dried to 2/3 of the container depth. Signs that the yucca has been overwatered are drooping yellow leaves and rotting canes, particularly at the soil surface.

TIP: Rachel recommends, "Water very sparsely in the winter. Never let a yucca sit in a tray of water. Yucca are very drought-tolerant and will much more likely die from over-watering than under. Always cease watering if you notice rot on the base of the main stem. This is where the plant will exhibit signs of over-watering."

Step 5 - Keep in a Location that Has Fairly Consistent Temperature

Yucca plants can survive short spells of extreme temperature change, so they can live happily near a main front entrance or doorway to a patio. Guard the plants from direct exposure to rain, sleet or snow.

Step 6 - Check for Insect Pests

As a desert native, yucca has few problems with insect pests. Indoors, they will be free from spider mites that plague other tropical plants. If they come under attack from scale or mealybugs, use a insecticide that is safe for plants and people, such as neem oil. Examine the leaves for small bulges on the underside to detect the presence of scale, and check for small patches of yellowish-white foam on leaves to find mealybugs. Take the yuccas outside to treat for insect infestation.

Step 7 - Deadhead the Blooms and Monitor Vertical Growth

Remove the dead yucca blossoms so the plant will continue to produce new flowers. Yucca recurvifolia will reach a height of 6 feet, while yucca elephantipes will grow taller, up to 8 feet.

TIP: Rachel adds, "The pruning method for yucca may seem harsh, but is an excellent way to keep your plant manageable. When you notice your yucca growing too tall, gently remove it from its container. Find a spot on the main trunk that is above halfway up, and looks like it would be an agreeable height. Using a saw or a sharp pair of loppers, cut the trunk in half. Replant the yucca and continue to care for it as usual. Though it will look stumpy and sad for a few weeks, the foliage will re-grow quickly and the plant will be much more healthy and manageable afterwards."

Step 8 - Repot

Yucca are slow growing plants that need only be repotted every other year. A sign that your yucca needs to be repotted is when the plant becomes heavy enough to tip over its container. Remove the yucca from its pot and transplant it to a container one size bigger. Always use fresh potting soil.

TIP: Rachel says, "The easiest way to propagate yucca is during the pruning process. After you have replanted the bottom of the yucca, strip the top half of the trunk of its leaves and transplant it to another container. Make sure you plant it leaf side up. Care for the trunk as you would a normal yucca. After a few weeks the trunk will take root, and a few weeks following this, it will begin producing new foliage."