How to Plant and Grow Yucca

These drought-tolerant plants are the rock stars of the full-sun garden.

These tough plants are rock stars in a full-sun garden and can stand up to some serious drought. Grown primarily for their showy evergreen foliage, some yuccas put on candelabra-like blossoms. Not only do these plants work well in a dry garden as an architectural accent, but they also make a prized container plant. But do be careful; if they are planted in anything other than well-drained soil, yuccas can develop root rot. Avoid planting them near walkways because of their thorny tips.

The foliage of the yucca is the main draw for growing these plants. The leaves come in a variety of colors, most often a silvery green. You can also find them in variegated varieties with gold, green, cream, blue, and even pink, in the right season. Some yuccas have thread-like filaments that curl off the edge of foliage for a unique addition to the evergreen leaves. The texture of the foliage can vary from thin, almost grass-like leaves to thick, wide leaves.

The flowers develop on extremely tall stalks in masses of white and cream and sometimes blush pink.

Yucca Overview

Genus Name Yucca
Common Name Yucca
Plant Type Perennial
Light Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 3 to 15 feet
Flower Color Pink, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Colorful Fall Foliage, Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Attracts Birds, Fragrance, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Where to Plant Yucca

Select a location in full or partial sun. The most important requirement is that the soil drains well. If it doesn't, the plant will die. You can also plant yuccas in containers to be moved in and out according to the weather or as full-time houseplants.

Because of the plant's thorny tips, yucca shouldn't be planted where pets or people, especially kids, might come into inadvertent contact with the plant.

How and When to Plant Yucca

Plant yucca in early spring in a full-sun location. As long as the soil is well-draining, no amendments are needed. Dig a hole three times the width of the nursery container. Put on long sleeves and gloves if the yucca has thorny tips (safety glasses are a good idea, too), and take the plant out of the container. Rinse the potting soil off the roots. If you see any circling roots, cut them off before positioning the yucca in the hole at the same depth it was in the nursery container. Yucca plants are drought-tolerant, but for the first year after planting, water the plant regularly.

Yucca Care Tips

Because many species of yuccas are native to the most arid areas of the United States, these plants make great rugged garden companions.


Their native growth in wide-open areas with little overhead competition means these plants perform best in the garden in full sun, which provides the most intense colorations of the variegated varieties and the most prolific flowers. While yuccas can survive in part sun, plants often become sparse, and the leaves are more narrow and leggy. Part sun also increases the likelihood of rot, as the soil is more likely to stay wet.

Soil and Water

Yuccas require well-drained soil, or they will quickly rot and die. When planting along with other perennials, avoid pairing yuccas with plants that need continuous water, as this is not an ideal environment for yuccas. While yuccas are tolerant of different soil conditions, including sand and clay, they must remain dry.


Yuccas are slow growers that live in a relatively stark environment. Still, they benefit from fertilization a couple of times a year with a low-nitrogen fertilizer—either granular or liquid. For the amount to use, follow product label instructions.


Yucca plants in the garden don't usually need any pruning except to remove a damaged or diseased area.

Potting and Repotting

Yuccas make great container plants that thrive even if you neglect them. When potting them as houseplants, choose a container wtih drainage holes that is only slightly larger than the existing container. Fill it part of the way with a mixture of three parts peat moss and one part sand (or any well-draining planting medium). Take the yucca out of its nursery pot and loosen its roots with your fingers. Position it in the new container at the same depth it was in previously. Fill in the rest of the space with the potting mixture and water the plant. Place in a location with bright indirect light but at a safe distance from kids and pets.

Yucca grows well with crowded roots, but it is time to repot the plant when water runs through the soil quickly without moistening it, an indication of a plant with over-crowded roots.

Pests and Problems

Agave plant bugs pierce the leaves of yucca plants and suck out the juices. They are a half-inch long, so they are easy to see and identify. Treat them with several applications of insecticidal soap.

Yuccas are also vulnerable to the usual culprits: aphids, mealybugs, and scale, which are treated on yuccas just as they are on other garden plants, with sprays of water or neem oil (for scale).

How to Propagate

Propagate yucca by cutting off a section of a mature plant. Wait a few days for the cut to "heal," strip off any leaves at the bottom, and plant it in a container filled with good-quality potting soil or a cactus and succulent mix. Keep it warm and water it occasionally. Rooting will start in three to four weeks.

If you prefer to skip the container step, the best way to propagate some outdoor yuccas is through division. Lift a small—but mature—plant out of the ground using a shovel. With your hands, separate sections of plant and roots until you have several new plants. Replant the parent and plant the divisions outside.

Types of Yucca

'Bright Edge' Yucca

'Bright Edge' yucca
Lee Anne White

Yucca filamentosa makes a substantial clump of rigid, spiny-tipped variegated leaves about 2½-feet long, edged with curly threads. The leaves are broadly banded with creamy yellow. Imposing 8-to-10-foot-tall spires of white flowers appear in mid to late summer. It is hardy in Zones 4-11.

'Color Guard' Yucca

'Color Guard' yucca
Bob Stefko

Yucca flaccida has beautiful foliage streaked with bright gold down the center and looks stunning year-round. Stalks of white blooms as tall as 6 feet may appear in spring. It is hardy in Zones 4-10.

Spineless Yucca

Close up of Spineless yucca
Denny Schrock

This type of Yucca elephantipes is a variety often grown as a houseplant. This yucca lacks needle-like spines and can reach staggering heights of up to 30 feet. It is hardy in Zones 9-10.

Variegated Yucca

variegated aloe yucca
Denny Schrock

This variegated selection of Yucca aloifolia is a form of the southeastern U.S. native that can reach up to 7 feet tall. It is hardy in Zones 7-9.

Yucca Companion Plants


Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb'
Scott Little

One of the longest bloomers in the garden, coreopsis produces (usually) sunny yellow daisy-like flowers that attract butterflies. Depending on the variety, coreopsis also bears golden-yellow, pale yellow, pink, or bicolor flowers. It will bloom from early to midsummer or longer if it's deadheaded.

Hens and Chicks

hens and chicks (Sempervivum)
Peter Krumhardt

A favorite of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, hens and chicks are popular once again with gardeners looking for drought-tolerant, easy-care plants. Darlings of today's xeriscape gardens, trough gardens, and rooftop gardens, these plants are appreciated for their easy care and tolerance for extremely dry conditions. The neat rosettes multiply freely by runners that form dense colonies. Flowering rosettes die after bloom time but are quickly replaced. They are excellent between pavers on patios and walkways.


Detail Of Blue Salvia
Stephen Cridland

There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage, but they all tend to share beautiful, tall flower spikes and attractive, often gray-green leaves. Countless sages (including the herb used in cooking) are available to decorate ornamental gardens, and new selections appear annually. They are valued for their very long bloom season, right up until frost. Not all are hardy in cold climates, but they are easy to grow as annuals. On square stems, clothed with often-aromatic leaves, sages carry dense or loose spires of tubular flowers in bright blues, violets, yellow, pinks, and red that mix well with other perennials in beds and borders. Provide full sun or very light shade in well-drained average soil.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does a yucca plant live?

    When grown indoors as houseplants, yuccas live about five years. Outdoors, some yuccas live as long as 50 years.

  • Are yucca plants dangerous?

    Many yuccas have hard, sharp spines that can puncture a person's skin (or a pet's) and penetrate deeply. The spines aren't poisonous, but the wound is likely to swell and be uncomfortable for a week or so. It is unwise to place yucca varieties with this trait in an area with children and pets. Not all yuccas have sharp tips on their leaves. Spineless yucca plants (Yucca elephantipes) are particularly popular as houseplants for this reason.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles