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

Monday - June 08, 2009

From: Lansing, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Watering, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Topmost leaves on yucca are brown
Answered by: Nina Hawkins

QUESTION:

I live in the Lansing, Michigan area, in the lower peninsula and have a couple yuccas whose topmost leaves are brown emerging from winter. Do I prune those, or has the plant died? Thank you.

ANSWER:

You are right to be concerned about your yuccas.  Normally, it is the leaves at the bottom of the plant that will turn brown as the plants grow.  Brown leaves at the top of the plant where new leaves usually emerge is a sign that the plant is in stress.  Since yuccas enjoy dry conditions, my first instinct is that they have received too much water during their winter dormancy and are rotting.  However, it is also possible that they have not received enough water and cannot support their new growth - though this would require very dry conditions indeed.  In either case, you'll want to clip off the brown leaves so that new leaves will have a chance to grow.  If you notice that part of the plant is mushy and rotting, remove that also and make sure that the soil around the yuccas is allowed to dry out between watering.  I really can't imagine that any Yucca species would require more water than the other plants in your Michigan garden, so you may need to occasionally skip over them when watering your other plants, or if you have an automatic irrigation system that waters on a regular basis, you could cap off the sprinkler head nearest the yuccas.  Then, cross your fingers and wait.  In time, it will be clear if the plant will rebound or is already too far gone.  Mr. Smarty Plants will keep his fingers crossed too!  Good luck!


Yucca filamentosa

 

 

More Watering Questions

protecting native trees during drought
June 07, 2011 - We are very concerned about our mature live oaks and cedar elms because they are so stressed due to the drought. We have lost several of our mountain juniper and I really don't want to lose our more...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a non-native rose from Akron OH
August 30, 2012 - Can I transplant a rose plant that I have in sunny area to an area that will be partially shady?
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in American beautyberry in Birmingham AL
July 13, 2010 - We created a new garden area in our yard that gets full sun in the afternoon. I had a Beautyberry Bush that had seriously outgrown the area where we originally planted it (also full sun), so I transp...
view the full question and answer

Sad Germanders in Johnson City Texas
September 16, 2011 - I have some grey bush germanders that never seem to do well although they did at first when I planted them four years ago. They have sun and dappled shade on the south side of the house. A friend in ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center