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?

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
1 rating

Tuesday - May 19, 2009

From: Courtenay, BC
Region: Canada
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Cleaning up Adams Needle yucca in Vancouver Island BC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have Adam's needle yucca's in our the flower bed of our newly purchased home here on Vancouver Island BC. They thrive and produce impressive flowers. How do I clean them up in the spring time when the dead and dying leaves become very evident? I started out by cutting the dead matter off which is very time consuming. I accidentally discovered I could break off the tuber from the previous season and leave behind the new growth. It looks pretty good on completion but I'm wondering if the new tubers will produce a blossom this year

ANSWER:

The new tubers will probably not produce a blossom this year, but they will likely survive and do so in a year or so. The yucca is an incredibly tough plant, and we have had questions from people despairing of getting rid of them, because they will grow anew from a small scrap of root left in the ground. The reason we don't think they will bloom this year is that it takes a great deal of the plant's energy to bloom. It is necessary that they bloom, of course, as this is essential to the continuation of the species, but they will be putting more energy into growing roots and leaves for a while.

This is not the first time we have been asked this question, so to save time, we will print an excerpt from the previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer.

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 Cacti and Succulents Questions

Smog-eating plants from Ft. Worth TX
September 30, 2012 - Looking for a list (40 >) of Native Texas Plants for Fort Worth Urban (Condo) that are Drought tolerant or (drip irr) and Fragrant and long blooming and eat up the city smog. Fort Worth is in a non-at...
view the full question and answer

Crown rot in Agave americana
June 13, 2007 - My Century Plant's leaves get soft toward the base and eventually fall over and I have to cut them off. What causes this?
view the full question and answer

Starting yucca from seed from Austin
December 24, 2012 - I would like to start a soft leaf yucca recurvifolia from seed. Is that possible? Also, I've looked for seed on dried flower stalks, and I'm not sure that what I'm finding is the seed, and I ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for 16th floor of condo in Panama City Beach, FL
May 30, 2012 - My husband and I have a COSI on the west end of Panama City Beach, Fl. I love plants and flowers and live out of state. Our condo is on the 16th floor and directly on the gulf. What type of plants ...
view the full question and answer

Removing faded flowers from plants in Georgetown, DE
July 28, 2012 - I bought a chamase rose quartz that was in bloom. now the buds are dead, should i remove them or just leave them on the plant. they wont just fall off. and the tips of the plant has new growth.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center