Yucca Plant Care – How to Care for Yucca Elephantipes

Yucca is one of the most striking houseplants for your home. Its elegant, pointed leaves and the thick, cane-like stem of the mature plants, give yucca plants a modern, architectural feel. Yuccas are perfect for today’s trend toward more streamlined, contemporary décor. Best of all, yuccas are easy to care for and will quickly rise to the top of your list of favorite houseplants.

Yucca Plant Origins

large flowering yucca plant in a desert home landscape
The Yucca elephantipes species — commonly known as the yucca plant, yucca tree, yucca cane or spineless yucca — is the type most commonly grown as a houseplant. It’s native to Central America and Mexico, where it thrives in dry, sandy conditions.

Is it Easy to Take Care of a Yucca plant?

sleek modern living room with a potted yucca plant on the floor by a large window
The yucca cane is one of the easiest houseplants to care for. It can tolerate neglect and other than its need for bright light, it isn’t fussy about its general growing conditions. Yucca is the perfect houseplant for a beginner or if you simply have a busy lifestyle.

Are Yucca Plants Indoor Plants?

large potted yucca plant outdoors by a garage door and driveway
Yucca elephantipes plants prefer hot, dry climates (USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11), and are unlikely to survive outside in regions where temperatures fall below 40F (4.5°C). So, they are typically grown as indoor houseplants.
But that’s not to say your potted yucca can’t enjoy a summer vacation. If you put your yucca plant outside during the summer, keep it sheltered from the wind and heavy rain, and bring it back inside at the first sign of fall.
There are also hardier species of yucca that are better suited to outdoor landscaping. Discover other yucca species and how to take care of yucca plants outdoors at our plant library.

How to Care for Yucca Elephantipes Indoors

How Much Light do Yucca Plants Need?

potted yucca and pothos plants on an indoor windowsill with the sun shining through the foliage
Yucca canes love sunlight so place yours in your brightest, sunniest spot. However, be aware that yucca plants need time to adjust before being moved from low light to direct sunlight, or they can get sunburn.

How to Water a Yucca Plant Indoors

woman with a watering can watering a potted indoor yucca plant
Steps for checking soil moisture and watering a potted yucca plant:
  • Check the soil by pushing your finger into the surface.
  • Only water if the top 1-2 inches (3-5 centimeters) of soil is dry.
  • Soak the soil generously until water runs through the drainage holes.
  • Don’t let the plant sit in excess water as this can cause root rot.
As desert natives, yucca trees flourish in dry conditions. Overwatering is one of the most common problems yucca plants face.
In summer, your yucca plant probably won’t need watering more than once a week or even every two weeks if you live somewhere with medium-to-high humidity. In winter, you probably won’t need to water any more than once a month.

How Much Humidity Do Yucca Plants Need?

Yucca plants will tolerate normal house humidity and don’t need supplemental misting.

How to Fertilize Yucca Plants

woman measuring out fertilizer pellets for mixing in a pot of potting soil
Yucca cane plants only need feeding occasionally, mainly during periods of active growth. Here are tips for fertilizing yucca through the year:
  • Once a month during the spring and summer water with a balanced, low-nitrogen liquid or water-soluble fertilizer, such as cacti fertilizer.
  • Alternatively, you can mix fertilizer granules into the soil in spring to slowly release nutrients over time.
  • Reduce fertilization through the fall. You don’t need to fertilize at all in winter.

When to Repot a Yucca Plant

hand holding the base of a yucca plant removed from its pot to display the condition of the root system
For the best yucca plant care, repot every two years. This gives you a chance to inspect the health of the root system and refresh the soil. Yucca plants enjoy having slightly crowded roots, so only use a bigger pot if it’s pot bound. For example, if you can see roots growing out of the soil at the surface or from the hole in the bottom of the pot, it’s time to move to a slightly larger pot.

What Kind of Soil do Yucca Plants Need?

hands mixing soil in a bowl on a kitchen counter surrounding by soil mixes and gardening tools
Yucca plants prefer loose, free-draining soil. Choose an all-purpose potting soil and mix in some perlite or coarse sand for drainage.
Check that your plant pot has holes in the bottom so excess water can escape. Putting rocks in the bottom helps to keep the drainage holes clear.
Read more about choosing the right soil.

How to Repot a Yucca Plant

woman removing a yucca plant from its pot on a table preparing for repotting a yucca in a new pot

Steps for Repotting a Yucca Plant:

  1. Choose a pot with drainage holes that is 1-2 inches (3-5 cm) larger than its current pot.
  2. Place a stone, or a small square of fabric or metal mesh, over the hole in the bottom of the pot. This will allow water to flow without eroding soil away. Fill the pot about a third of the way with all-purpose potting soil mixed with perlite or coarse sand.
  3. Remove your yucca plant from its old pot and carefully tease away the old soil.
  4. Place the root ball in the new pot and cover it with soil up to the base of the plant. Leave about an inch (3cm) space between the rim of the pot and the top of the soil to allow space for watering.
  5. Water the soil generously.
Your yucca may take some time to adjust and could lose a lower leaf or two. Remember, “moving house” can be stressful, even for houseplants.
Read more about how to repot houseplants.

Common Yucca Plant Care Problems

close up of yucca foliage with black spots on the leaves

Yellow, Wilting Leaves on Yucca Plant

This is often due to overwatering, a common issue in yucca tree care. Here’s How to Rescue an Overwatered Houseplant.
Low light can also cause leaves to turn pale green or yellow. Move your plant to a location where it can receive 6 or more hours of bright light or look into setting up a light fixture to provide supplemental light.

Yucca Plant Brown Tips

Brown tips on yucca plants may be caused by:
  • Chlorine or fluoride in your tap water — Try filtering your water or using rainwater instead.
  • Salt mineral build-up in the soil from fertilizer or tap water — A white crust on the soil surface is a clear sign of salt build-up. You can prevent build-up through your watering technique by watering generously and draining away excess moisture. You can also reduce salt build-up by leaching or replacing the soil.
  • Shallow watering — The best way to water is to soak the soil until water flows out of the drainage holes.

Yucca Plant Pests and Diseases

close up of mealybugs on a palm leaf
Yucca plants can be affected by several common houseplant pests and diseases, including:
  • Fungus gnats
  • Mealybugs
  • Thrips
  • Yucca weevils
  • Root rot
Learn more about dealing with Common Houseplant Pests.

Are Yucca Plants Safe Around Cats and Dogs?

close up of a cat nibbling a leaf on a potted indoor yucca plant
Plant parents, who are also pet parents, should be cautious about growing this plant around cats or dogs. All parts of a yucca plant contain an organic compound called saponin. Saponins help protect a plant from insects and fungi. But if ingested by a cat or dog, saponins can cause vomiting, digestive issues, and an array of other symptoms.

More Low-maintenance Houseplants to Keep Your Yucca Plant Company

a collection of potted indoor houseplants on the floor near a bright window
Yucca plant care is super simple. Follow the tips set out in this guide, and you’ll be ready to help your yucca plant live its best life.
How about adding some other low-maintenance houseplants to your collection? Check out these five easy houseplants that are beautiful and perfect for beginners or anyone who just doesn’t have time for picky houseplants.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *