Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Sunday - December 21, 2008

From: Roseville, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Trimming of dead foliage on trunks of yucca in California
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

There is a Yucca plant in the back yard. I want to know how to get the old foliage that has died off of the trunks, it looks kind of ragged. The foliage is about three feet from the green. Can you advise me on this?

ANSWER:

When we are asked a question like this, we always try to determine which species of the plant we're dealing with, as there might be different conditions. So, we went to our Native Plant Database and searched for yuccas native to California. Of the 28 plants listed, there were three native to California, Yucca baccata (banana yucca), Yucca brevifolia (Joshua tree), and Yucca schidigera (Mojave yucca). This doesn't necessarily mean you have one of those plants, it just gives us a starting place for finding the answer to your question. Unfortunately, we found no specific instructions for trimming any of these yuccas, so we will provide you with a little generic advice from personal experience.

If you have a yucca that has developed a trunk, and that is where the dead foliage is appearing, those dead leaves eventually will peel off the trunk and drop to the ground. You're right, they are pretty unsightly, so you can hurry the process along by cutting the blade as close to the trunk as possible with a sharp knife. Please prepare to protect yourself, first. You will need heavy long sleeves, long gloves, preferably leather, goggles to keep from getting a pointed tip in your eye, and a knife or pruner with as long a handle as possible. The yucca will defend itself, and it is well-equipped to do so. Even the dead foliage is still tough and fibrous, but it can be gotten off. Bag up the detached material in a heavy paper trash bag and clean up the surrounding area to prevent insects or  diseases from harboring there. This is not material for the compost pile; the sharp edges and tips will persist for a long time.


Yucca baccata

 


Yucca schidigera

 


Yucca brevifolia

 

 

 

 

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Can non-native Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in Round Rock, Texas?
July 01, 2014 - Can the Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in the Round Rock Texas area or is this area too hot for it?
view the full question and answer

Can I trim back my 20 ft Yucca plant?
May 11, 2009 - I have a yucca tree which is about 20 ft. tall, has four main trunks. I would like to prune it to approx. 10 ft. but wonder if that will kill it or if new shoots will come out up near the cut.
view the full question and answer

Replacements for photinia from San Antonio
August 31, 2012 - i just read your response to someone regarding Red Tip shrubs. You just saved me thousands of dollars ! I was getting ready to order over 250 of these to line my 2.5 acre fence line. What shrub would ...
view the full question and answer

Projected longevity of Opuntia fragilis (Fragile Prickly Pear)
November 25, 2005 - How long does Opuntia fragilis live? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Need advice about an agave that didn't survive the winter in Myrtle Beach, NC.
March 09, 2011 - I live in Myrtle Beach, S.C. bought an agave big last summer and it died in the winter. Some green is showing on the bottom should I cut it all down because the whole top is dead. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.