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?

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
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

Tuesday - May 12, 2009

From: Blanco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Getting rid of yucca plants in Blanco, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How does a person get rid of Yucca plants? We have four fig trees that do not bear figs, what do we need to do? We live in SE Blanco County, Texas.

ANSWER:

We can't help you with your second question. Ficus carica is native to southwest Asia and the eastern Meditteranean area. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown. We found an essortment website How to grow and care for a fig tree that might be of some use to you.

On the subject of getting rid of yucca plants, that's going to be difficult, because yuccas are tough desert native plants, and they resist being exterminated. However, you are not the only one who has wanted to either get rid of or thin out their existing yuccas. We don't know which species of  yucca  you have, but Yucca constricta (Buckley's yucca) is shown on the USDA Texas map as growing native around Blanco. Here is an excerpt from a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

Members of the Genus Yucca are all similar enough that we can talk about them in general terms. You do have a problem getting rid of your unwanted plants. Yucca has a root you wouldn't believe, big and going deep. It propagates itself both by seed and by offshoots, or pups, from the main plant. The first thing is to avoid further propagation by seed. If your yuccas are blooming, get the blossom trunk down and disposed of before the seed pods turn dark brown. Then you can go on to the rest of the plant. 

There is no magic potion. You are going to have to arm yourself with heavy clothes, long leather gloves and goggles to protect your eyes from those stilleto-like leaves, as well as some serious cutting equipment. First, cut down as much as you can of the leaves, or blades, if you prefer. You probably already know that their edges are sharp, their tips are sharp, and they are tough. Begin with the offshoots and work your way in. Any piece of root left in the ground will sprout a new plant. Dispose of these cuttings in heavy paper bags (they'll rip plastic to shreds) and send them to the trash. Don't put them in the compost, or pile them somewhere, they stay lethal for a long time. Although we have no documentation to prove this will work, you might ask your nursery to recommend some herbicide that is meant to be painted on cut-off trunks to kill the roots. Cut the yuccas that you can't dig out down as close to the ground as possible, and then paint with the solution.You need to get the herbicide painted on the cut end within 5 minutes of cutting, as it will try to heal itself and keep the herbicide from circulating to damage the root. Don't get carried away, you don't want to contaminate the soil around the yucca, where you will presumably want to plant something else in the future. And don't spray! Spray can drift to other plants that you didn't intend to destroy, and probably do them more damage than the yucca.

You will have to continue destroying yuccas for some time. Don't let them get ahead of you, be vigilant to root out the offsets and destroy them before they get firmly entrenched. The yucca is a survivor, growing in some of the bleakest desert land in the country. There is one other remedy that has occurred to us-when you look up information on how to care for a yucca, you are always warned not to water it, not to let the roots stand in water, don't let it get wet. So, try flooding the roots and see if that helps. Never tried it, but it's cheaper than herbicide. 


Yucca constricta

Yucca constricta

Yucca constricta

Yucca constricta

 

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Problems with Texas Mountain Laurel in Dallas
May 04, 2010 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel that is about 3 years old. When I bought it 2 summers ago, it was about a foot high. Now it is over 6 feet. It seems to have grown so fast that the branches can't ke...
view the full question and answer

Leaves dropping on native Texas Mountain Laurel in San Antonio
September 20, 2008 - Please help. We have a beautiful TX Mountain Laurel in our front yard. This year the leaves are dropping like snow in the north. What do you think is wrong with our tree?
view the full question and answer

Pruning for native oak in Houston
October 06, 2008 - I have an oak tree, and I was wondering if I prune from the top down, would it get fuller at the bottom? Or can you tell me how to prune it? I have been pruning from the bottom up and it is growing ta...
view the full question and answer

Branches of yucca being blown down in Torrance CA
August 19, 2010 - I have a Yucca tree about 30 ft tall. Lately when the wind picks up in Torrance we have had about 3 branches fall out of the tree. Can you help me with this. I don't want to cut all of the branches...
view the full question and answer

pruning crape myrtle (ugh, non-native)
March 05, 2012 - We would like to plant a Dynamite Crape myrtle in front of our front window. They grow 20' to 30'. Can I trim it each year to about 15' to 20'? Should we plant it approximately 5 feet from the ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center