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
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 Pruning Questions

Protecting storm-damaged pecan and black walnut trees in TX
June 29, 2015 - Several trees on our property in northeast Texas were uprooted by a tornado. A pecan tree with a circumference greater than 93 inches was carried to the ground. Although it is completely horizontal,...
view the full question and answer

How to Prune a Mountain Laurel to make it more tree like in Hendersen, NV
April 28, 2011 - How do I prune a Texas Mountain Laurel into a tree? Just bought a 15 gal. with two trunks above the crown. Was told that multiple trunks are their natural growth, which is OK. But all research call...
view the full question and answer

Branching on plants
March 14, 2008 - Hi Mr SmartyPlants, I would like to cause my cerus peruvinesus (sp?) to branch low to the ground and another plant to branch higher up..what causes branching & how can I duplicate this?
view the full question and answer

Runaway growth on mountain laurel in Coolidge AZ
July 01, 2010 - I have 2 mountain laurels. They are thriving well. In fact one is growing way too fast. I am growing it as a tree, but the branches are in excess of 6 feet, while the trunk is only 18 or so inches. I ...
view the full question and answer

Replacing non-native boxwood in Austin
October 03, 2011 - I have a large maze garden, possibly boxwood, originally planted in the 1950's, in Austin, Texas. About 1/3 of it has died out, probably due to drought, heat and age. Should I attempt to replant ju...
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