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
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

Thursday - April 23, 2009

From: Winona, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Winter damage to yucca in Winona MN
Answered by: Barbara Medford


This past winter was hard on my established yucca plant and most of the foliage has discolored and it is not very pleasing to look at. What should I do about the discolored portion? Should I remove all of the winterkill?


We're assuming that what you have is Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) which is the only yucca hardy in northern parts of the US. It is hardy from USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. Winona County, in southeast Minnesota,  appears to be in Zones 4a to 4b, minimum annual average temperatures of -30 deg to -20 deg F. Our Native Plant Database does not show the plant as native to Minnesota, but does appear in a few counties in adjacent Wisconsin. As you pointed out, this has been a very hard winter in your part of the country, and yucca is basically a southwestern desert plant. Because of the  tough roots of yuccas, we believe the plant will survive. The top, or visible parts of the plant may suffer severe dieback, but the root probably still has the ability to regenerate the plant. Yes, we would suggest you remove the more seriously damaged foliage, for appearances sake, if nothing else, and then be patient. Possibly what will happen is that new "pups" will begin to emerge from that tough root, which is protected by the insulation of the soil from the extreme cold you have experienced this year.

Yucca filamentosa




More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen — or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees — could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Bloom stalk not visibly connected to Century Plant from Johnson City, TX
July 31, 2013 - Can anyone tell my why my Century Plant is growing a bloom stalk a couple of feet away from my plant instead of up through the middle? Ive never seen one do that and it strikes me as being rather odd!
view the full question and answer

Seeds of agave attenuata from San Diego CA
April 16, 2012 - After the agave attenuata bloom dried up there are seeds like thing hanging on the foxtail; do I leave it until it dies or do I chop that down. Are those seeds for propagation. The leaves of the plan...
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in Pittsburgh, PA
August 22, 2009 - I have a terraced high side lot(front of house). I currently have Yuccas growing, but they are too invasive. Can you suggest plants, shrubs, or ground covers that are not as invasive and will still ...
view the full question and answer

Mulching Spring Bulbs in Upstate NY
October 25, 2010 - Just planted tulip bulbs for Spring. The Parks Department then put 4 inches of mulch on top. Will the tulips be able to get through and bloom come Spring? Is mulch a good winterizer for them? Indoor c...
view the full question and answer

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