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

Should black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) plants be cut back
May 02, 2007 - I have black-eyed susan plants that were beautiful last year and flowered for a long time. Do they need to be cut back and if so, how much?
view the full question and answer

Survival of native yaupon in The Woodlands, TX after hurricane
September 25, 2008 - One of my large native yaupons trees (8ft) fell away from a group during the hurricane. I have uprighted and tied it off for stability. Now the leaves are all brown and falling. Is the tree dead or...
view the full question and answer

Mystic Spires salvia in transplant shock
July 04, 2008 - Hello. I live in Taylor, Tx. Just outside Austin, Texas. I recently planted mystic spires. One gallons and will receive the hot afternoon sun. All the research says they can tolerate this location. Th...
view the full question and answer

Pruning mature cedar elm trees in San Antonio
September 14, 2008 - When is the right time to prune my several mature cedar elm trees? I'm in San Antonio, and they have never been trimmed in the 55 years we have lived in this home. I have several that are at least 7...
view the full question and answer

Non-native pomegranate failing to fruit from Highland Village TX
October 20, 2012 - Last spring I planted a pomegranate tree (type: Wonderful) which is supposed to produce edible fruit. It had 5 or 6 absolutely beautiful blooms, but each of them dropped off and no sign of fruit. Is...
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