How to Remove the Babies From a Yucca Plant
Yuccas evolved to thrive in the harsh desert landscapes of North and South America. The spiny, succulent leaves and dense rosette growth habit characteristic of yuccas works to hold moisture near the plant, a trait that makes them a suitable choice for xeric, or low-water, landscaping. Most yuccas produce small baby plants, or pups, around the base of the mother plant, and these babies can easily be removed and planted to create new yuccas. Although removing baby yuccas is a simple project, gloves and goggles must be worn since the spines found on most yucca plants can cause injury.
Put on gloves and goggles before working with yucca plants to spare your hands and eyes from injury.
Remove the babies from a healthy, mature yucca plant in autumn when the plant is beginning its winter dormancy. Locate a healthy baby with well-developed, fully green foliage. Avoid those with pale or white foliage since they have not fully photosynthesized and cannot live apart from the mother plant.
Scrape away the soil between the baby and the mother plant to reveal the roots and rhizome. Use the flat edge of a garden trowel. Then, gently dig around the baby yucca starting about 2 inches from the base to avoid damaging the fragile roots.
Work your fingers under the baby yucca to lift it from the soil. Move your fingers further down the rhizome to separate it from the soil.
Cut the rhizome with a gardening knife approximately 4 to 5 inches from the base of the baby yucca. Make sure the rhizome includes several capillary roots so it can gather nutrients once potted.
Combine equal measures of succulent potting soil and coarse sand to create a potting mix for the baby yucca. Fill the bottom third of a 6-inch nursery container with the mix.
Hold the baby yucca in the pot so the base of the foliage is 1/4 inch below the edge. Fill in around the roots with small handfuls of the potting soil and sand mixture until the container is full. Shake the container to settle the soil and then add more if necessary. Make sure the base of the foliage is flush against the surface of the soil.
Place the potted yucca in a warm spot with bright light but little direct sunlight. Slowly acclimate the baby yucca to stronger sunlight until the foliage can stand full sun without scorching.
Water the baby yucca with 1 cup of water every 10 days. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Decrease water to 1/4 cup every 10 days during the winter.
- "American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques"; Alan Toogood; 1999
Samantha McMullen began writing professionally in 2001. Her nearly 20 years of experience in horticulture informs her work, which has appeared in publications such as Mother Earth News.