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?

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

QUESTION:

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!

ANSWER:

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 Propagation Questions

Propagation of Texas bluebells from seed
July 29, 2008 - I have a few Texas Bluebell seeds. I would like to grow these in my yard. What would be the best place..pot or flower bed? When should I plant? How to maintain?
view the full question and answer

Follow-up on Viburnum dentatum question
September 24, 2008 - This is a follow up to an earlier question, posted Sept 20, about Viburnum dentatum shrubs. I'm not sure I understand your answer. If the person having trouble getting berries went out and bought a...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of native American beautyberry in North Carolina
August 31, 2008 - I have found a beauty berry bush growing wild in the woods. It is huge! I broke off a couple of branches (1/4 " in diameter) and wonder if it will root if I just stick it in good moist soil. I alr...
view the full question and answer

Male and female Maclura pomifera trees in Boaz AL
September 06, 2010 - To grow a Maclura pomifera female tree, do I have to have a male tree for the female to produce fruit?
view the full question and answer

When is it safe to mow wildflowers in Castroville, TX?
May 26, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My yard in Castroville, TX sprouted many wildflowers early in April. By now the Blue Bonnets are seeded and gone. However, I still have a lot of Mexican Blankets. My husba...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center