Yucca Plant Care

Overview

The yucca plant, with its swordlike leaves and graceful canes, is a hardy houseplant that can add interest and drama to any room. It is particularly effective as an accent to Southwestern or Asian-themed decor. The yucca's tolerance to a wide range of temperatures makes it a good choice to brighten an entranceway or lobby, and its resistance to disease and low-watering requirements make it simple to maintain. Although the yucca is native to southeastern Mexico and Guatemala, you can make your yucca feel at home in your house by following some simple guidelines for care.

Basic Care

Make sure your yucca gets plenty of light by placing it by a window that faces south or east and gets a lot of sun. To maximize air circulation and let water dry more quickly, choose a clay pot over plastic, and make sure the soil has good drainage. Keep your yucca's desert heritage in mind, and water it sparingly--overwatering is the main cause of ailing yucca houseplants. Check the soil before watering; the top third should be dried out. You shouldn't need to water your yucca more than once every two or three weeks. Never allow a puddle of water to accumulate in the bottom of the pot; this could cause root rot. Observe your yucca for any signs of overwatering, which include brown leaves, canes appearing rotted at the soil line, and collapsing foliage. Avoid overfertilizing your yucca; this can burn the roots. According to Yucca Plants.com, yucca need only be fertilized once a year. Because yucca plants are sensitive to transplanting and root damage, make things easy on your yucca and allow three years to go by between repottings.

Yucca Pest Control

Although spider mites pose no threat to your yucca plant--for some reason, spider mites find yucca unappealing--yucca plants are sometimes affected by scale and aphids. Scale appears as round, dark waxy-looking bumps on the leaves; treat it by applying horticultural oil or neem oil, which will smother the insects causing the infestation. A fungus that infects yucca plants can mimic scale. Differentiate between the two by gently scraping the bumps with a fingernail. If it scratches off and leaves a sticky substance behind, it's scale. If not, it is fungus--stop it from spreading up the plant by removing the affected leaf as well as the lower leaves. Identify aphids by looking for tiny, tear-drop shaped insects, and keep an eye out for the ants that congregate to eat the sticky honeydew produced by the aphids. Pull off any aphids you see and squash them; spray the yucca with a non-toxic insecticidal solution made by mixing 2 tsp. of castile soap to a gallon of water. Yellow sticky cards, sold at garden supply stores, can also be effective against aphids.

Precautions

When repotting your yucca, avoid exposing the bottoms of the canes to too much moisture by making sure you place the plant a little high in the pot.

Keywords: yucca plant, overwatering yucca, scale, aphids

About this Author

Carol Sarao is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic City Weekly, The Women's Newspaper of Princeton, and New Millennium Writings. She has interviewed and reviewed many national recording acts, among them Everclear, Live, and Alice Cooper, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Warren Wilson College.

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