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

Friday - April 09, 2010

From: Ingram, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Spanish Dagger plant interfering with walkway in Ingram TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Spanish Dagger that is now 8 feet tall and about to fall over in a walkway. Due to the danger of these very sharp tips I need to either cut down the plant or try to root in and replant. If I maneuver it to have the trunk lay on the ground will the trunk root so I can trim the trunk.

ANSWER:

If we understand you correctly, you are looking for a way to propagate your Yucca treculeana (Don Quixote's lace) because you need to remove the one you have from a space where it has become dangerous to passers-by.  We could find no evidence that it reproduced by contact of the trunk with the soil, although there are plants that do that. It would appear to us that you do, indeed, need to modify that particular plant, which isn't going to be easy, but necessary. First, though, you can take cuttings from the plant and root them, to be replanted in another location not so near a walkway. This website from Gardening Know How Propagation of a Yucca Plant gives good instructions. Apparently, this is the right time to do so, as these cuttings should be taken in the Spring.

From the same source, this website is on Pruning a Yucca which involves cutting the trunk off at some point, and leaving it in place to resprout leaves. From Fine Gardening, yet another article on Propagating Yucca.

After reading all these, our advice is to prune that yucca by cutting through the trunk about halfway up. Then, you will need to repeat the process every year or two, to keep it from getting so big and out of hand again. The trunk is very fibrous and not easy to cut, but it can be done. New growth will begin to sprout in a short time. In terms of avoiding the prickly tips as you prune, we suggest you mark the point at which you are going to cut through the trunk, and cut back everything above that (and even a little below) so you won't be dealing with those spines as you cut the trunk. For this, you will need long pruning shears, and wear long sleeves and pants, leather gloves and a pair of goggles to protect your eyes. By using this technique, you won't have to try to dig up the old plant (really hard!), nor take cuttings to make new plants. Be careful how you discard the trimmed-off portions, they will poke right through a plastic trash bag, but you can find heavy duty paper trash bags that should suffice. And don't try them in a compost pile-it takes them a long time to decompose, and they maintain their stickeriness throughout.  

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Yucca treculeana

Yucca treculeana

Yucca treculeana

Yucca treculeana

 

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Problems on Prickly Pear Cactus in Illinois
November 19, 2014 - I have a fungus on my prickly pear cactus that is not a bug. I tested it and my fingers didn't turn red when I squeezed them. So how do I get rid of this as it is spreading to my other cacti?
view the full question and answer

Dying cactus plants
December 16, 2007 - Two large cactus plants on the grounds of our condominium complex have begun to turn yellow and appear to be dying. A "staple" of our landscaping, this is the first year that they have developed th...
view the full question and answer

Removal of mature agaves
November 20, 2007 - Hello- we live in Austin, TX and have a bed of different varieties of agave. They are near the walkway to our house, and are so out of control they pose a hazard to our guests walking up to the house...
view the full question and answer

Thorny shrub for deterring break-ins in southeast Texas
February 05, 2013 - Looking for a very, very, thorny three or four foot tall shrub for in front of windows to deter break-ins. Considering Rosa Rugosa rose but it is not native.
view the full question and answer

What variety of Opuntia is best for eating in Boerne, TX.
September 26, 2011 - Which variety of Opuntia, is best for eating the pads and which are the ones best eaten for fruit?
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