Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Sunday - May 31, 2009

From: Howell, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pruning
Title: Center of Yucca filamentosa looking rotten in Howell, NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in central NJ. I planted some Adam's Needle Yucca in my garden around 5 years ago. Since then, they kept growing and ended up developing three trunks off of the main trunk. I noticed recently that the spot where the three trunks meet the main trunk looks rotten. I'm afraid that one day those three trunks are going to break off. What should I do?

ANSWER:

We couldn't find any pictures or descriptions of Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) that indicated a trunk that developed  additional trunks. That particular plant is usually referred to as "trunkless" or "minimal trunk." However, the yucca is incredibly hardy, and will grow back from little chunks of root. Even if one or more of the trunks broke off, the main plant would be all right. However, if it is concerning you, or unsightly, we would suggest you prune away one or even two of the additional trunks, electing to leave the one (or two) that look most hardy and unaffected by the rot. Possibly more air circulation on the area will help. This is not an easy job, and you will have to protect yourself from the leaves or blades of the yucca. It is a very fibrous plant, so be prepared to use a sharp cutting tool; a long-handled tree pruner might be good in that it will keep the person doing the cutting away from the defensive spines of the plant. If this makes the center that appears rotten more accessible and visible, you can examine it to see if, indeed, something is going on there. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

More Pruning Questions

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

Trimming dead blooms from turkscap in San Antonio
July 10, 2009 - Great answer to the Turk's Plant question. But, I can't seem to find an answer to mine. I've had Turk's plants for years and cut them back as you suggest, but have always been confused about wha...
view the full question and answer

Time for trimming oaks from Boerne TX
July 03, 2012 - I want to trim a native red oak but am scared to touch it because I dont want to lose it. It is the primary source of shade in our back yard. Also I want to trim the live oaks and am surrounded with O...
view the full question and answer

Removing fading blooms from iris
June 19, 2007 - Iris maintenance: when blooms begin to fade do I pluck off just the bloom? cut off the entire stalk? leave it alone? Some blooms grow on stalks without leaves and some on stalks with leaves.
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage on perennials in Austin
December 10, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, The recent hard freeze in Austin really took a toll on the plants I put in the ground in early October. The leaves of my salvia, lantana and esperanza are completely black! ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.