Yucca plants are actually a genus of over 40 house and outdoor plants. While most Yucca plants are considered low maintenance, improper care will lead to a struggling plant. There are several common issues that often cause health problems in Yucca plants. Once the underlying issue is solved, returning your plant to good health is often a straightforward process.
Yucca Plant Dying: Watering Issues
The Yucca plant is naturally drought tolerant and doesn’t require frequent watering to stay healthy. In fact, you should let the plant’s soil almost completely dry out between waterings. To check the moisture level, insert a finger into the plant’s soil. The soil should feel dry up to the second knuckle before water is given. When you do water, only do so until the soil is moist and the water begins to run out the pot’s drainage holes.
If your Yucca plant is dying and the soil feels soggy, overwatering is likely the issue. Correct the issue by immediately ceasing all watering until the plant’s soil has dried out. If the soil is excessively wet, remove the plant from its pot and sit it on a plastic garbage bag covered with a layer of newspaper. This will allow the soil to dry out faster. Once the soil is dry, return the plant to its pot and follow the recommended watering schedule.
Why Is My Yucca Plant Dying: Using the Wrong Pot
Closely tied to the subject of overwatering, using the wrong type of plant pot can contribute to indoor Yucca plant problems. Your plant’s pot needs drainage holes to allow excess moisture to escape. You also need a drip tray under the pot to collect this excess water, which is discarded after watering and draining.
The material your pot is made from also affects your soil’s moisture levels. Use an unglazed terra cotta or clay pot, both of which wick up excess soil moisture when needed. If you are using a plastic pot, or a pot without drainage holes, change up your plant’s pot immediately.
Why Is My Yucca Dying: Root Rot
Should your plant continue to suffer after correcting an over watering issue, check the plant’s root system for rot. Gently remove the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. Use a pair of sharp and sterile shears to remove any of the roots that appear dark and mushy. Next, create a mixture of two parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. Generously spray the roots to kill any remaining bacteria. Finally, remove all the soil from your pot and throw it away as it will be contaminated with bacteria, which will reinfect your plant. Clean out the pot with soap and water, and repot your Yucca plant with fresh soil.
Indoor Yucca Plant Problems
While Yucca plants that grow inside are sheltered from severe weather, there are still many factors that can cause indoor Yucca plant problems. Here are the most common ones.
Yucca plants prefer a sunny location for optimal health and growth. Low lighting will stunt growth and, over time, lead to yellowing and dying foliage. Ironically, the first sign of low lighting is your Yucca plant’s leaves turning greener. This is an attempt to overcompensate with chlorophyll for the lack of photosynthesis. If your plant’s leaves have gone from deep green to yellow or brown, move the plant to a place where it receives bright, indirect sunlight for most of the day.
The Yucca plant is slow growing and therefore is not a heavy feeder. At most, feed your Yucca plant with a balanced, houseplant fertilizer every two to three months. In between feedings, watch your plant for signs of excessive fertilizer damage. These signs include browning of the leaves’ edges and tips, slowed or halted growth, wilting, and leaf drop.
Fertilizer should never come into direct contact with the plant. If signs of overfertilization occur, stop feedings immediately. If the damage is caused by direct contact from the last feeding, rinse the plant and prune any damaged areas. If you suspect a buildup of fertilizer in the plant’s soil, remove the plant from its pot and change out the soil for fresh soil.
Outdoor Yucca Plant Problems
Growing Yucca plants outdoors comes with its own set of issues to watch for. Once a plant becomes established in its growing spot, it will likely continue to do so unless factors change but regular checks are still recommended.
Direct Sunlight Exposure
The most common cause of Yucca plants dying outdoors is overexposure to sun and heat. In hot climates, too much direct sunlight will scorch the plant’s leaves and cause the plant to turn yellow with white spots. Provide several hours of direct, morning sunlight, but ensure the plant is protected from the hot, midday sun.
The Yucca plant tolerates a wide range of temperatures, from 90 F (30 C) to 45 F (7 C). Prolonged exposure to temperatures above or below this range will negatively affect the plant’s health. Providing shade for high heat or covered protection when the weather turns cold will help alleviate temperature issues.
Your Yucca plant may also show signs of stress when brought outdoors after growing as a houseplant. While the plant will acclimate, it’s recommended to only expose your houseplant to the outdoors for one or two hours per day in the beginning. Gradually increase the time spent outside until the plant tolerates a full day outdoors with no adverse effects. Should you wish to plant your Yucca in the garden, it is now safe to do so.
Yucca Plant Dying: Pests
Pests can be an issue whether you grow your Yucca plant inside or outdoors. Perform regular checks on the tops and undersides of your plant to look for signs of pests. Common pests to watch for are mealybugs, aphids, and scale. Each presents their own telltale signs and method of treatment.
Aphids feed on the leaves on your yucca plant, leaving behind a sticky residue called honeydew. This honeydew presents a further problem as it encourages the growth of mildew if not cleaned up. Remove aphids by rinsing them off with water, or try using insecticidal soap or horticultural oil weekly until controlled.
Mealybugs leave waxy markings on yucca plants which are easy to spot by their white filmy appearance. Wipe or spray your plant with rubbing alcohol, horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to treat the infestation.
Scale are hard-shelled pests that can multiply quickly and kill your yucca plant. They appear as hard bumps and often appear along with yellow leaves on your Yucca plant. Manually remove the pests, then follow up with a houseplant pest treatment of rubbing alcohol, neem oil or horticultural oil.
Common Yucca Plant Diseases
Stressed plants are easy targets for disease, which can kill a plant quickly if not treated immediately. If your Yucca plant is dying and it shows unhealthy foliage with spots on its foliage it’s probably a disease at play.
Fungal disease and blight are two common diseases, often caused by excessive or improper watering. Fungal issues appear when the soil remains soggy or excess water is allowed to sit on the plant’s foliage. Spots will appear on the leaves and will spread if left unchecked. Treat your plant with a copper-based fungicide as per the product’s directions.
Blight presents as dark, wet spots on the leaves and is spread by water splashing on the soil, where the disease thrives, and then back onto the plant. Reduce watering and allow the plant to dry out. If the problem persists once watering is resumed, change out the plant’s soil and treat the plant with a horticultural oil.
Yucca plant problems often stem from incorrect watering practices or insufficient temperatures or sunlight. Regular monitoring of your plant’s appearance and overall health helps ensure any problems are identified early on. The sooner you correct health issues with your plant the quicker you will be able to return your Yucca plant to good health.
Yes, the Yucca plant is considered toxic to plants and children.
The growth rate of your Yucca plant will depend on the type of Yucca plant it is. Some grow as quickly as two feet per year, whereas others will only grow an additional 5 inches in that year.
Choose a sunny spot with light, well-draining soil. As the roots of Yucca plants grow quite large, it’s best to plant Yucca plants away from buildings and sidewalks.
Yucca plants grown as houseplants typically live to around five years, while outdoor Yucca plants can live up to 50 years.
On average, a Yucca plant needs repotting every two to three years. The plants do like to be somewhat root bound, but the plant will require a larger pot every few years to avoid becoming top heavy.