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How to Dig Up Yucca Plants

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017

The yucca plant (Yucca filamentosa), also known as Adam’s Needle, is an evergreen ornamental shrub-like plant that is native to the southeastern United States, though it is often planted to add a “southwestern” feel to the garden or yard. As an added bonus, the yucca plant blooms large creamy white flowers in the summer. If you decide to dig up your yucca plant, wear garden gloves while handling the plant since the edges of the foliage are quite sharp.

Cut off the foliage to about an inch above the ground. It will now be easier to dig up the yucca plant while still being able to see where the plant is located. It will also remove much of the sharp-edged leaves.

Dig a small trench around the perimeter of the plant. Start out about 6 inches from the base. If you feel roots, dig a bit further out. Once you don’t feel roots, dig straight down for at least 12 inches. Yuccas have deep roots.

Dig at an angle toward the center of the plant. If you are hitting roots, you will need to dig further down before cutting in. Wet the soil first in the trench to help loosen the soil, if necessary.

Lift the plant out of the ground once you have successfully cut in on all sides to middle under the root ball. If necessary, a shovel can act as leverage in order to lift the yucca out of the ground. Be careful though as you do not want to break the shovel’s handle in the process. A second person with a second shovel may be needed if the root ball is large and heavy.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Shovel
  • Water


  • Young yucca plants may emerge several months or even a year later since some of the roots may have been too deep to dig up. The best way to deal with these young shoots is to repeatedly cut the foliage off every time you see it. Eventually the roots underneath will die from lack of nutrients since the foliage is not able to absorb sunlight and convert it into food.

About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.