Yucca is a common succulent closely related to agaves. There are over 40 species of the spiky plant that grow throughout North America including the US, Mexico, and even one species in Canada! Additionally, they are common in parts of Central America and the Caribbean. Yucca species vary from small, low-lying shrub-like plants to huge, hundreds year old Joshua trees. Being succulents, they thrive in arid regions like deserts, where they flower regularly.
Not only is yucca an important, charismatic member of many ecosystems, but many species of yucca are also common ornamental plants. They can make a great, low-maintenance addition to gardens. Plus, their flowers are gorgeous bell-shaped blooms that help support local wildlife. If you’ve ever tried to grow yucca, you may have noticed that the plant rarely flowers, if ever. This is because yucca requires ideal conditions in order to bloom. A flowering yucca plant is a sign of a happy plant. But, how do you get your yucca plant to flower? The most important things to keep in mind when trying to get yucca to flower are where to plant it, and how to care for it before and after it blooms.
Where to Grow Yucca
Yucca leaves are sharp, so it’s probably best to keep them away from sidewalks, paths, or other areas with high foot traffic. Being desert plants, they thrive in full to partial sun. In fact, to have the best chance to flower, yucca should be in full sunlight even if you live in hot and dry environments. Yucca doesn’t like shade, and will most likely have an incredibly hard time flowering in low-light environments. Indoor yuccas will rarely flower unless they have ample light and grow to be a large enough size. Finally, yucca should be planted somewhere with good drainage. The sandier the soil, the better. Soil that doesn’t drain well could end up causing your yucca plant to drown, or lead to root rot.
Pruning is one key act of care to get yucca to flower and should be done on old leaves at the bottom of the plant when they begin to wither and die. For best results, pruning should be done right before spring when the plant is getting ready to grow. To prune yucca leaves, simply cut off dead leaves at the bottom of the “rosette” as close to the stalk as you can, without damaging the inner stem. By removing dying leaves, your yucca plant can focus its energy on new growth and the production of flowers instead of trying to maintain a dead leaf.
If you get your yucca plant to flower, it’s important to manage the flowering stalk afterward. Once all the flowers are gone, you can cut the entire stalk right down to its base. Just like removing dead leaves, this will allow the plant to focus energy on new growth. In turn, your plant will likely flower sooner than if you left the old flowering stalk on the plant. Of course, if you want to harvest seeds from your yucca plant, you won’t want to cut the flowering stalk off until after it produces fruit. Not all yuccas will produce fruit, though, and it depends entirely on if the flowers have been pollinated.
Water and Nutrients
Yucca is one of those plants that tend to thrive with neglect. Although they will do just fine while being ignored, periodic watering and fertilizing will rarely harm yuccas. During spring and summer, try watering them thoroughly every couple of weeks. Also, try using a balanced liquid-based fertilizer at the same frequency. A yucca with water and nutrient supplements will have a much greater chance of flowering than one without!
One of the most important things to have when getting yucca to flower is patience. Young yuccas will never flower, no matter how much love and care you provide. It can take at least three years for many species to bloom. In addition, don’t be alarmed if an old yucca plant shows no sign of flowering in the spring when so many other plants are in bloom. Many yucca plants wait until later in the year when temperatures are warm enough in order to bloom, and it’s possible to have two blooms in the same year even if the first doesn’t come until mid-summer.
Yucca is a wonderful plant for any garden. Its low-maintenance and toughness mean you won’t have to do much to keep it alive. But, when cared for and allowed to grow under optimal conditions, you will be rewarded with huge, beautiful yucca flowers!