En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - September 07, 2007

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Trimmng and fertilizing yucca
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Should I cut the stalks of the Yucca that have already bloomed or wait until they dry? How often should I fertilize?


Preparing to answer your question, we queried the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Database on "yucca" and got 25 possibilities. So, we don't know which yucca you are growing, but the answers to your questions are pretty generic, and we picked a couple for demonstration. Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca) and Yucca faxoniana (Eve's needle). Both are native to Texas and are frequently seen in landscaping in your area. Hesperaloe parviflora is not even a true yucca, but a member of the Lily Family. Yucca faxoniana is often seen growing wild on rocky hillsides and is a member of the Century Plant Family. We always think it is a good idea to clip off stalks of plants after they have flowered. This helps to cut down on litter and possible insect or disease damage. The problem there, of course, is getting close enough to them to clip those stalks; we hope you have some leather gloves and long-handled lopping shears. In regard to your second question about fertilizing yucca, one of the beauties of native plants is they seldom or never need fertilizing. They have been growing and flourishing in sometimes inhospitable environments for many thousands of years without the intervention of gardeners armed with hoses and sprays. If the plant is in a flower bed or border and you are throwing a little timed-release fertilizer in there, it certainly won't hurt the yuccas. Just remember, the faster those yuccas grow, the longer and more lethal those dagger-like leaves are going to be.


From the Image Gallery

Red yucca
Hesperaloe parviflora

Faxon yucca
Yucca faxoniana

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Thorny shrub for deterring break-ins in southeast Texas
February 05, 2013 - Looking for a very, very, thorny three or four foot tall shrub for in front of windows to deter break-ins. Considering Rosa Rugosa rose but it is not native.
view the full question and answer

Hanging plants for Austin, TX
May 18, 2014 - I'm looking for a hanging potted flower suggestion for Austin. Most locations are shaded under a large tree, but some locations may have several hours of afternoon sun. I'd love to see some hummin...
view the full question and answer

Cutting bloom stalk of century plant in San Diego CA
June 25, 2010 - My 28 yr old century plant will bloom soon. I understand it will die. Will this 30 ft stalk then likely fall? Will I need to call someone to cut the dead stalk? The base is nearly 7 ft by 6ft - n...
view the full question and answer

Identification of green succulent plant with red tubular flowers
October 08, 2007 - Hi there, i have this plant which is green,leaves are succulent, and these red tubular little flowers about an inch long grow rampantly all summer. i wanna know what it is called as i take cuttings a...
view the full question and answer

Dying cactus plants
December 16, 2007 - Two large cactus plants on the grounds of our condominium complex have begun to turn yellow and appear to be dying. A "staple" of our landscaping, this is the first year that they have developed th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center