En EspaÑol

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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - February 23, 2013

From: Waxhaw, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Propagation, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Saving frozen yuccas from North Carolina
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in NC and have 2 potted yucca plants on my deck. Every year I have brought them in for the winter. This year, someone told us that we could leave them out all winter. They began to die in the cold temps. We brought them inside and now all of the leaves are turning yellow and dying. These are my babies! How can I save them before they are gone? BTW, we did put them in garage for 2 days before bringing them in the house so we would not shock them from cold to warm. Please advise ASAP! Thank you!


Now, see, this is why we recommend only plants native to an area. There are 28 yuccas in our Native Plant Database, and we have no way of knowing which you have. However, there are 3 native to North Carolina: Yucca aloifolia (Aloe yucca), Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle), and Yucca gloriosa (Moundlily yucca). Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle), for instance, grows all over the United States, including some very cold areas.

However, all hope is not lost. Yuccas may also be grown from rhizomes, cuttings, or by digging offsets from the side of established plants. Here is an article on Propagation of Yuccas. Whatever part of the yucca you choose to use for propagation, it should be one that has been in or near the soil, which acts as an insulator. Probably, now that we reread your question, the mistake you made was leaving the plant outside in the pot. Plants that survive winter outdoors do so because of the insulation of the earth around the roots. A pot provides almost no protection from the cold, so the roots freeze, the plant can get no moisture and it dies. Hopefully there is enough life left in your plants to start new ones. This time, if you want to leave the yuccas outside, plant them in the ground.


From the Image Gallery

Spanish dagger
Yucca aloifolia

Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Plants for 100 gal. pot by pool from Ft. Worth TX
June 23, 2012 - What North Texas evergreen — or combination of evergreen plants, bushes or trees — could thrive in a huge, 100-gallon clay pot (immovable!) that is situated in full sun year round in an exposed area n...
view the full question and answer

Branches of yucca being blown down in Torrance CA
August 19, 2010 - I have a Yucca tree about 30 ft tall. Lately when the wind picks up in Torrance we have had about 3 branches fall out of the tree. Can you help me with this. I don't want to cut all of the branches...
view the full question and answer

Can I have success planting Adams Needle in Calgary, Alberta? Maybe.
March 23, 2009 - I live in Calgary, Alberta and am wondering if I could have success planting Adams Needle in this climate (lots of chinook winds in the winter with large fluctuations in temperatures).
view the full question and answer

Black bugs on yucca from Aledo TX
April 14, 2013 - We have flowering yuccas that have thousands of small black bugs that seem to be hurting the plant. They are not on any other foliage in our beds. What do I use to get rid of them??
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming of an apparent yucca in Ohio
March 09, 2009 - I have what looks like a yucca plant in my flower bed. but in the 3 years we have lived here it has never bloomed. It did get a little bigger and has always been green. If it is a yucca, is there any ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center