En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - October 18, 2008

From: Rockford, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks
Title: Trimming native Yucca filamentosa for winter in Illinois
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in northern IL and I have approximately 5 yucca plants, Adams needle, my question is do I need to trim them down for winter for best growth the next year?


Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) doesn't need pruning per se. You should always cut back the woody blooms stalk as soon as blooming is over unless you are planning to harvest seeds. If you are trying to harvest seeds, the chartreuse-green seed pods should remain on the plant until they turn brown or black and begin to split. This article from Ohio State University on Yucca filamentosa  will give you some information on trimming the basal foliage. If some of your yuccas are beginning to outgrow the area in which you want them to grow, you might do some trimming on the blades that are protruding where you don't want them.  Please be very careful, protecting yourself or whoever is doing the trimming. Heavy clothing covering and protecting the arms and legs, leather gloves and even goggles are all necessary. As you bend over to trim the trunk, those sharp points are going to be trying to get you wherever they can. You especially don't want one of those in your eye. To quote from that article:

"Dead basal foliage needs to be carefully removed with a sharp knife in early Spring (wear gloves; the tough foliage can be sharp on its edges, in addition to the knife), and immature fruiting stalks are best pruned away just after flowering has finished in mid-Summer."

Pictures of Yucca filamentosa


More Pruning Questions

Northern Catalpa Tree Doing Poorly
July 02, 2014 - One of our Northern Catalpa trees appears to be dying. It is about 28 feet tall and this year only about 1/3 of it is producing leaves. It is next to our largest Catalpa tree (about 65 feet tall and a...
view the full question and answer

Trimming non-native sago from Fresno CA
September 10, 2012 - I have a sago plant, fronds are hanging over into street, can the fronds themselves be trimmed back without removing the whole frond?
view the full question and answer

Removing a non-native windmill palm from Austin
February 27, 2013 - I have a fairly good size windmill palm (about 15ft high) that is planted too close to the house. I also don't like having to constantly remove its fronds as they block a walkway. Is there a good wa...
view the full question and answer

Pruning of non-native oxblood lilies from Austin
March 27, 2014 - My Oxblood Lilies flowered quite late last Fall. Their foliage is still very green. Can I cut it down now or do I have to wait until it goes brown?
view the full question and answer

Trimming of turkscap
November 16, 2009 - I have a Mexican Turk's cap, it is in its second year of growth and is doing well. However, I feel a need to prune it? do I need to?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center