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 Pruning Questions

Pruning Bald Cypress in Wylie, TX
January 02, 2010 - I have a 6 year old bald cypress that sustained damage to the upper portion of its trunk a couple of years ago. Since that time it has grown more outward than upward and developed a rounder shape. I...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back woody plants after freeze in Leander TX
December 10, 2009 - I have several woody shrubs in a prominent location. Now that the leaves have frozen, how far back should I cut them? These are Flame Acanthus, Salvia ballotiflora, and Aloysia macrostachya, but I w...
view the full question and answer

Live oaks lifting up sidewalks in Palm Coast FL
December 12, 2013 - My live oak trees roots are lifting up my side walks. Can I cut just the roots that are causing the problem without hurting the trees? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Pruning time for Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus)
February 13, 2006 - Gentlemen: I have a Texas Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus). It's doing very well & I wish to prune it before its leaves come out. I understand there are a few trees you don't prune, among them birch. I...
view the full question and answer

Care for cultivar of native Bignonia capreolata
February 05, 2008 - I planted Dragon Lady Cross Vines at the end of the fall last year. When would be the best time to trim them. I live in the Dallas area. They look kind of beat up right now and I thought if I trimmed...
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