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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.

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

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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!

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Monday - May 11, 2009

From: San Jose, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Can I trim back my 20 ft Yucca plant?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

You didn't tell me the type of Yucca that you have, and you may not know, but you can go to our Native Plant Database and type the word Yucca in the "name box". You will get a list of 28  species of Yuccas native to the US along with images and descriptions that can help you learn the name of your plant. Two of the spectacular "tree like" forms are Yucca brevifolia (Joshua tree), and Yucca elata (soaptree yucca) with images.

 You can safely trim the tops of the trunks and new shoots will appear just below the cut point. I would suggest that you do one trunk and wait for the new shoots before you proceed to the other trunks. See this link for details.

You could also experiment by putting the cut off stems into potting soil to see if they will form roots.  Free Yucca plants!

I would offer two words of caution. The leaf margins of Yuccas can be sharp, so be careful when you handle the leaves, and don't over water your Yuccas.

 

 

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