Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Cacti and Succulents Questions

Failure to bloom of red yucca from Lago Vista TX
April 09, 2013 - I am in Lago Vista - trying to find out why I can't get my red yucca to bloom. The first year they were great and now after two or three years - no measurable spikes have shown up. HELP!
view the full question and answer

Care of Spanish Dagger (Yucca treculeana) after blooming
May 27, 2007 - I live in Austin and have a 5 ft spanish dagger in my backyard. Now that it has bloomed and the flowers have withered in May, should I cut off the center stalk or will it bloom again from the same st...
view the full question and answer

Nightflowering plants native to Northern Illinois
October 12, 2010 - Looking for any/all info on night flowering plants that are native to Northern Illinois.
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in Pittsburgh, PA
August 22, 2009 - I have a terraced high side lot(front of house). I currently have Yuccas growing, but they are too invasive. Can you suggest plants, shrubs, or ground covers that are not as invasive and will still ...
view the full question and answer

Can non-native Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in Round Rock, Texas?
July 01, 2014 - Can the Epiphyllum (Orchid Cactus) be grown in the Round Rock Texas area or is this area too hot for it?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.