Are you interested in growing a houseplant that is tree-like in nature? Then the yucca elephantipes species may fit exactly what you are looking for. Let’s dig deeper about what this Yucca elephantipes or the spineless yucca is all about through this article.
In This Article
What is Yucca Elephantipes (Spineless Yucca)?
Also known for its other common name, spineless yucca, yucca elephantipes refers to a kind of shrubby plant featuring sword-shaped leaves and thick cane stems. Also called yucca gigantea and stick yucca, this outdoor plant seems to favor hot and arid climates
It is easy to care for and grows at a medium height. Combine that with its soft foliage that resembles a palm and the plant spineless giant yucca will work perfectly as a houseplant.
Main Features of the Yucca Elephantipes (Spineless Yucca) Plant
Here are the unique features of the stick yucca plant, which mainly thrives outdoors but can also be grown indoors with proper care.
The yucca plant boasts of its nice architectural form featuring spiny and straight succulents leaves that radiate from one point. You can also find varieties of yucca that have short trunks. Some of them resemble miniature palm trees.
Height / Spread
The elephantipes spineless yucca is generally a narrow plant that can only spread to around 20 inches or 50 centimeters. It can grow at a staggering height and width, though, specifically 15 to 30 feet high and 15 to 25 feet wide.
Speed of Growth
Basically, the spineless yucca is a slow grower, but you can expect its speed of growth to increase if you plant it indoors. Providing it with ample room will also let it mature to its max height of 30 feet.
The yucca elephantipes plant is capable of producing a huge cluster consisting of white flowers during its bloom season. It also has conical-shaped flower panicles that you can see growing at the plant’s center. Bloom time is usually during summer and spring.
One thing to note, though, is that the stick yucca elephantipes may be incapable of growing a lot of flowers when planted in a container or pot. Even if you provide the plants with the perfect conditions for growth, it is rare for it to bloom flowers when indoors.
Despite that, you will surely be impressed once the plants grow and show their spiky-looking and soft foliage. The evergreen foliage is also sharp and sword-like and composed of rosettes.
The spiny and straight succulent leaves that radiate from one point make up the nice architectural form of the yucca plants. These yucca leaves could be blue, yellow, green, or variegated.
Each glossy leaf is also capable of growing at around a meter tall and 8 centimeters wide. The edge of the leaf is often roughly toothed while the tip is soft.
The yucca plant is a bit poisonous to humans and animals. The good news is that this plant is also capable of protecting itself effectively. It is the reason why you can find its poisonous areas being quite hard to reach, thanks to its sharp foliage’s dense bundles.
Despite that, it is still necessary to exercise caution when you come close to this plant.
Where to Cultivate and Plant your Spineless Yucca?
Now that you know about the most important characteristics of the yucca plant, it is time to get to the details on where and how to plant and care for it. The spineless yucca seems to survive and thrive well if you grow it in your outdoor garden.
However, it can also grow in an indoor garden, though, the result is not as great as when you grow it outdoors. This plant tends to grow easily in dry to medium, sandy, and well-drained soils that get exposed to full sun. It is also drought-tolerant.
It also seems to work great in borders, garden beds, and pots and containers. If you have a Mediterranean garden or a coastal garden, then this plant will also seem to survive well.
When growing in pots or containers, ensure that you use one that is at least three gallons in size. The pots also need to have excellent drainage. Moreover, it is crucial to repot it every two to three years so it will continue blooming and adding beauty to your garden.
How to Care for the Spineless Yucca?
Despite being a native plant to Mexico, you can also find the spineless yucca in arid areas, as well as in the Caribbean and Southern parts of the US. What’s great about it is that even if it is not in its native country, you can still easily grow it.
Some of those who have this plant in their garden even say that it is self-sufficient plus capable of reaching impressive growth even with the least care. Just make sure that this plant receives its basic needs – among which are:
The yucca plants seem to grow well when they receive full sunshine. Even if you grow the yucca plant indoors, it is still crucial to provide it with as much direct sunlight as possible.
It can tolerate a bit of shade but avoid using it excessively as it may only result in the browning of the foliage, stretching it and making it look leggy. It also requires strong light when grown in a garden.
Make sure it continues to receive full to partial sunlight as it is what it needs for growth. If possible, grow it outdoors, instead of indoors, so it can get as much full sun as possible.
The hardy yucca plant is native to dry and sandy desert. That said, it is highly likely that these plants will thrive well in sandy and infertile sandy soil.
If you plan to grow it inside, then use a well-drained and loose potting mix. You do not have to use rich or specially formulated soil as fancy ones are not actually recommended for yuccas that only require minimal maintenance.
Just use an inexpensive potting mix. A bag of it will do. Mix it with perlite and coarse sand to ensure proper drainage.
When it comes to proper spineless yucca care, overwatering is something you should avoid. Ensure that these plants do not receive too much water as it may only result in the rotting of the roots. Here are some tips to prevent that:
Let the soil dry before watering again – The reason could be the drought-tolerant nature of the hardy plants, which also means that they do not favor being watered excessively.
Set a watering schedule based on the environment where the yucca is in – If it is in a dry and hot area, then you need to water it more than when you are cultivating it in a cooler spot. When the soil is already dry, water the plants deeply and thoroughly.
If it grows in a pot, water it until you notice the liquid draining from the drainage holes – Let excess water drain then ensure that the soil dries out completely prior to watering again.
Humidity and Temperature
One great thing about the yucca is that it is a hardy plant. This means these plants can tolerate different temperatures whether in an indoor setting or outdoor garden. It is a good house plant that can handle below freezing temperature and those that go beyond 90 degrees.
The most favorable temperatures for this plant, though, are still those in the midrange. It also seems to survive medium humidity levels. With that, it is possible for the controlled level of humidity and temperatures to work perfectly for indoor spaces.
The use of fertilizer is not that frequently required for the spineless yucca. The main reason is that it seems to survive even in garden and soil conditions that are low in nutrients.
However, if you think that the yucca elephantipes spineless requires additional nutrients, you can use a fertilizer. Go for the slow-release cactus fertilizer, which has low nitrogen content.
Do it during the growth season of summer and spring, particularly once every month. Also, note that yuccas that are outdoors may require more frequent use of fertilizer than those grown inside.
Pruning the Spineless Yucca
Since the stick yucca plant can be categorized as a low-maintenance houseplant, it does not need a lot of pruning. The only thing you should do for pruning is trim drooping leaves if there are any.
Snip off its bottom leaves. This is necessary for making the plant look like it has an upward growth. Prune all damaged and dead leaves, too.
Another thing that you can do is chop off its top as a means of reducing its height. One tip is to cut off its stem halfway or prune the topmost part by cutting around ten centimeters or four inches below the leaves.
Regardless of which one you choose to do from the two, you can expect to get a couple of stem cuttings that are useful for propagation.
How to Propagate the Yucca Plants?
Use offsets or stem cuttings for propagation. Here are the steps:
With the help of a clean and sharp saw, cut offsets that grow from the plant’s stalk – If you decide to cut the whole stalk, then make sure that the minimum is four inches under the foliage.
Set aside the offsets or stem cuttings – Allow them to dry for days.
Put the dry offsets or cuttings in soil that drains well – Press down the large cuttings firmly. This is necessary for securing them in the pot or container.
Ensure that you keep the cuttings from indirect light while still waiting for the roots to establish – The soil should also remain a bit moist during this period.
Wait for around three to four weeks for the roots to develop – The roots will start to appear at the stem’s base by that time. Once it happens, transfer it to a bright spot then look after it as you normally would.
How to Repot the Yucca Plants?
You may also want to repot the yucca plants if you grow them indoors. It would be best to do it during the spring. Also, remember to water it thoroughly one day before the scheduled repotting.
Ease the root ball gently from the pot or container then get rid of any excess dirt that you find in its roots. Put it in a pot, which is a bit larger. Fill it with soil and ensure that it grows at a similar height as before.
When repotting your indoor yucca houseplant, ensure that you follow these tips:
Repot only occasionally – The reason is that the yucca favors being a bit root-bound.
Keep yucca in a shady spot for a couple of weeks – This is helpful in preventing stress while giving it enough time to adjust.
Do not forget to wear protective clothes – Remember that the yucca plants have sharp leaves. Your protective clothing will prevent your skin from getting damaged by such leaves.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are yuccas low-maintenance and easy to care for?
Yes, it is the reason why you can also care for these plants indoors. Yuccas can even survive with slight neglect, which is why they work ideally as entry-level houseplants.
Why do their leaves droop or wilt?
The leaves of yuccas often droop or wilt due to improper watering. For instance, excessive water may result in root rot and the development of fungal diseases. To prevent this problem when growing yucca elephantipes in a pot or container, ensure that the potting soil is dry first before you water it.
What are the specific hardiness zones that are perfect for yuccas?
Yuccas prefer living in warm climates. That said, expect them to be able to survive places within the hardiness zones of 9a and 11b.
Is the spineless yucca effective in purifying the air?
Yes, studies even show that they are among those house plants capable of improving the quality of air. As one of the most beneficial houseplants, the spineless yucca works effectively in lowering the amount of toxic and harmful microbes suspended in the air.
Are yuccas prone to pest infestation?
Just like other plants, yuccas are also at risk of being infested by pests. This is true whether you are growing the plant indoors or outdoors. Among the pests you should watch out for are mealybugs, aphids, and scale insects.
The good news is that there are ways to deal with pest infestation on your own. Mealybugs, for instance, can be eradicated through rubbing alcohol. As for scale insects, you can eliminate them through natural neem oil spray.
How to deal with root rot?
One of the most common diseases affecting the spineless yucca is root rot. In that case, you may want to deal with it by implementing proper watering techniques. Check the plants for any sign of root rot every now and then.
Among these signs are leaning stems, soft steams, and yellow leaves. If you notice the mentioned signs, repot the plant in sterile and fresh potting soil right away. Also, make sure to water yuccas only once the soil completely dries out.
What makes the leaves of the spineless yucca turn yellow?
One reason could be overwatering as it causes the root to rot, leading to the yellowing of the yucca leaves. To prevent this from happening, plant this evergreen in a sandy soil. Avoid using organic mulch, too.
Lessen moisture if the yucca is in a potted container indoors by using small pots as much as possible. Note that large pots may retain too much moisture and takes longer to dry and drain.
The yellowing leaves may also be triggered by poor sunlight – in which case, you need to put the plant in a post where it can receive direct sunlight throughout the day. Another possible reason could be spider mite infestation. In that case, get rid of the mites by using a damp cloth to wipe the leaves every 2-3 days.
What causes the yucca to lean?
The yucca may start leaning over because of three possible reasons:
Root rot, which is caused by overwatering
Drought – It could also be because the plant does not receive sufficient amounts of water. Aside from leaning over, the leaves may also wilt and become yellowish and the stems may droop. Note that even if the yucca can withstand drought, you still need to give it water during long periods of dry spells and hot weather.
Shock – This happens when the yucca gets physically damaged or if it experiences sudden changes in growth conditions. It could be after repotting or transplanting it.
Can I revive a dying yucca?
Reviving a dying yucca may not be so easy but it is still possible. The first thing you should do is to check signs that it is already dying. It could be that its roots are turning brown and its leaves are becoming yellow.
Try reviving it by removing all the rot. Just cut the trunk to take out the rot then repot the remaining ones together with the healthy roots. Have it potted again in dry soil and wait if you are successful in your attempt to recover it.
What makes the yucca leaves turn brown?
Brown tips in the leaves of your yucca may be caused by fluoride toxicity. It may begin as tiny brown spots appearing on leaf margins. They will eventually cover the entire tip of the affected leave.
The browning often affects old leaves. The good news is that fluoride toxicity does not often pose a serious risk, though, it may affect the entire look of your yucca tree.
Overall, it is not that hard to care for spineless yucca giant. Just supply the yucca elephantipes with what it needs, including sufficient light and water, and it will surely demonstrate its healthy growth.