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How to Transfer Yucca Plants

By Tracy Morris ; Updated September 21, 2017
Yucca have a large taproot that makes transplanting them very challenging.
yucca image by photlook from Fotolia.com

The yucca plant is a succulent plant that is frequently utilized in desert landscapes of the southwest due to its drought tolerance, aesthetic beauty and resistance to browsing animals such as deer or goats. Yuccas have a deep tap root that may extend further into the ground than the plant’s height above ground. Moving or transplanting a yucca plant is difficult, because if the taproot breaks, the plant will not survive being moved. You will have better success transplanting small offshoot plants. The yucca plant’s sword-like leaves with sharp margins also make transplanting difficult.

Time transplant of your yucca plants in March, April or May. Although you can move a yucca at any time of the year, you will have the greatest chance of success in spring.

Tie a ribbon on one of the yucca’s sword-like leaves in the center of the south side of the plant. When you re-plant your yucca, orient it with this leaf pointing the exact same direction. Yucca plants build up tolerance to heat and sunlight on their south growing sides. If you orient the plant in a different direction, it could kill the plant.

Have the soil of your new location tested. State universities of every state in the United States operate soil testing facilities in conjunction with their community and continuing education programs. Contacting your local county extension office of your state university to find out how to take a soil sample, package your soil and submit it for testing.

Select amendments for your soil based on the test in step 3. Yuccas prefer well-drained sandy loam with a light amount of organic content to grow in. You may need to purchase compost and sand to amend your soil. Break up your soil to a depth of 12 inches by driving a spade into the soil. Spread amendments over the soil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches and work them in with a rake. Remove any debris such as large rocks or sticks that you encounter.

Pull on protective clothing and garden gloves before transplanting your yucca to protect yourself from the sharp leaves.

Insert your shovel into the plant at its base. Work your way around the plant to loosen the soil. Gently dig the roots out of the soil. Do not pull the plant upward to release the roots from the soil; doing so could damage the plant.

Prune away any broken roots to ensure that the plant puts out new roots to replace them.

Dig a planting hole that is the exact size of the yucca's previous hole. Plant your yucca at the same depth as in its previous location. Place the root ball in the hole and cover with soil. Tap the soil firmly to remove any air pockets.

Cover your plant with a shade cloth to protect it from the sun while the roots become established. Remove the shade cloth as soon as the roots become established.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • Shade cloth


  • Yucca is a desert plant that needs little water or fertilizer. As a general rule, if you have any doubts about using water or fertilizer, do not use it.

About the Author


Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.