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yucca plant in garden bed with rocks
The yucca is a popular choice among people looking for a plant that gives a strong, modern architectural look while also being incredibly easy to maintain. It is also one of the most dry-tolerant plants available.


What you need to know about yucca

Name: soft tip yucca, Yucca elephantipes species and varieties; Spanish bayonet (Yucca filamentosa).

Height: can be as tall as 8m, but easily controlled by pruning

Foliage: evergreen, long, narrow grey-green.

Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate, arid/semi-arid, sub-tropical and tropical, but not for frost-prone spots.

Soil: adaptable to most soil types, provided they are well drained.

Position: full sun, but will tolerate light shade.

Flowering: white bell-shaped flowers hanging off an upright stem.

Feeding: generally not required, except in pots.

Watering: incredibly dry tolerant once established; will go for months without water.

Appearance and characteristics of yucca

The yucca develops with a single upright growing stem surrounded by radiating sword-like leaves. In the most common form, these end in a soft point, but be careful, as in some species they end in a very sharp needle!

The leaves are light green to grey green, and there are also variegated forms with cream or white strips.

Yucca fronds 

Uses for yucca

Yucca is often grown to give a striking architectural effect to a garden. Plant in a well-spaced row for dramatic effect. It can also be grown in pots, and soft tip yucca can also be grown indoors. 

This plant is famous for its tolerance of hot and dry conditions, and for surviving general neglect.

How to plant and grow yucca

For best results, follow these tips when planting your yucca:

  • Plant out at any time of the year in full sun, in a soil that does not sit wet. Make sure you leave plenty of space to be able to move around the plant, so that the ends of the leaves don’t spike into people.
  • Yucca will grow really well in a container. Use a heavy pot, so that it doesn’t tip over as the plant becomes top-heavy.
  • Use a good-quality potting mix or a cacti and succulent mix.
  • The soft tip yucca can be grown as an indoor plant, provided it gets lots of light. It doesn’t have to be direct sun—a light-filled spot will do. If you can give it a rest outdoors every now and then, especially for a wash down and a freshen up, this will also help.

Caring for yucca

Yucca has very few maintenance requirements. If the leaves turn brown you can remove them by pulling them down off the stem. Some people do this to all the lower leaves, in order to show off the trunk, but this is not essential. 

How and when to prune yucca

If your yucca gets too tall, you can shorten it by sawing it off at the point you want it to regrow from. It will look bare for a little while, but new shoots will grow from below the cut. The pieces you have cut off can be used to grow new plants (see below).

Diseases and pests

Yucca is rarely affected by pests or diseases, but watch out for things like scale insects, particularly if growing indoors. These can be controlled with a garden insecticide if their numbers build up.

Yucca propagation

Growing yucca from cuttings

Yucca is propagated by using cut-off pieces of mature plants:

  1. Strip the bottom leaves off these pieces and put each into a pot filled with good-quality potting mix or a cacti and succulent mix, and water well for a few weeks.
  2. Roots form relatively quickly, so after about a month you can back off the watering to about once a week.

Remember that the fresh cuttings have no roots, so can topple over easily. Make sure you hold them in place, or put them in a sheltered spot where they won’t be knocked about by the wind, until the roots have formed. 

If you like this then try

Cordyline: green strappy foliage on the top of an upright stem.

Agave: a succulent with a rosette of blue-grey foliage.

Dragon tree: an unusual symmetrical plant with grey, sword-like foliage on top of a solid trunk.

Start planting today

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.