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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.

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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.

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Tuesday - April 05, 2011

From: Chicago, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Pruning
Title: Trimming spineless yucca in Chicago
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a spineless yucca (indoors) which is 11 feet tall and thirty-five years old. When the yucca recently started to scrape the ceiling, I moved it away (roughly 20 feet) from the windows to an area with higher ceilings (14 feet), but less light. Then, I purchased and installed two grow lights (60 watt bulbs with reflectors that are on 12-13 hours a day). Now, some leaves are dying off. Is this just the plant's way of adjusting to the new location? Or, should I trim the top off the yucca and move it back to the window area? (Can I trim off the top 18 inches without damaging the rest of the plant? If so, how?)

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants natively grow. Yucca elephantipes is native to Guatemala and southeast Mexico and therefore is out of our realm of expertise. We find that plants for indoor use are rarely native; however, there are native species of Yucca from which we can draw information.

It would appear that you are going to need to be able to prune your yucca, as it can grow to 30 ft. indoors. Even though this plant is not in our Native Plant Database, we found several articles that should help you understand what you need to do. We have no personal experience with growing an indoor yucca - they grow very well outside in Austin, TX, but we can tell you that probably the yucca would be happier back near the windows and that certainly you can trim off the top without permanent damage to the plant. The last article is from Australia, so you won't recognize any of the brand names mentioned, but can undoubtedly find similar products at your nursery center.

Plant-Care.com Caring for the Versatile Spineless Yucca

Plant-Care.com Indoor Yucca Plant Care

Modern Landscapes Yucca Elephantipes

 

 

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