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?


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

Sunday - July 14, 2013

From: Brooklyn, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Soils, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Non-blooming yuccas in Brooklyn CT
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have outdoor yucca plants that don't flower - - in full sun. Why?


You have yuccas growing outside in Connecticut? No kidding? Wow!!

We always think of yucca as a desert succulent, surviving in hot, dry desert. In fact, where this Smarty Plants Team member grew up in West Texas, yucca were about as close to trees as we came. However, we have learned since that there are 28 species of the genus yucca native to North America, of which exactly one, Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) is native to Connecticut. In fact, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map, it is found growing natively in Windham County, in northeast Connecticut. We learn something every day, and we do hope that is the yucca you have. Whether it is or not, we will try to find out why it is not blooming.

If you follow the plant link above to our webpage on this plant, you will see this information on where the plant is normally distributed:

"Native Distribution: Long Island and PA, s. to FL and LA
Native Habitat: Dry, sandy, open woods, hills & prairies"

Here also are its growing conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Coarse, dry sands."

You already stated that it had full sun (which we consider to be 6 or more hours of sun a day), and it looks like Adam's needle really, really likes coarse sand to grow in, which is probably why so many of them grow in the desert.

We found several interesting comments on this yucca in the forum Dave's Garden, particularly this one from Minnesota:

"Here in Minnesota, it's always a treat to find tropical-looking plants that can survive subzero weather in winter, so naturally I decided to pick this up a few years ago and plant it next to my koi pond. What a great, care-free plant! I was worried it wouldn't survive a string of -20ºF lows two winters ago, but sure enough by spring, it was still green and thriving. It also takes a lot of abuse, as the deer chomp on it all winter long, but it grows back larger and stronger every year.

My only complaint is that it has yet to bloom, after five years. It has nearly full sun where it's planted, so I'm not sure if the climate is just too cold and/or wet to support summer blooms, but I love the evergreen foliage, anyway. I'm looking forward to acquiring some suckers so I can start a succulent garden along my street where the sun tends to fry my lawn."

You didn't say how long your plant has been in the ground; nor did we find any definitive information on how old it needs to be to bloom. But this comment does indicate it will grow in your climate. We would just suggest you make sure you have provided appropriate drainage for your plant (that's why it likes to grow in sand).

Prescription: Patience.


From the Image Gallery

Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Debugging and Preserving Dried Cholla Cactus
January 04, 2014 - Hi. Recently found an intact skeleton of a cholla cactus. I want to Bring it in our house. Are there any dangers associated with this, like bugs inside the "branches?" how would you suggest I prese...
view the full question and answer

Protecting agave pups in San Antonio
April 23, 2013 - I would like to share the soon to happen bloom of two century plants on my property; they are sisters planted at the same time. I am sad to know they will die but will do all that I can to protect the...
view the full question and answer

Plants for planting in gourds
March 15, 2009 - I enjoy painting dried gourds. This spring I got the idea to paint a gourd and cut holes in the side and plant some small blooming flowers. I have seen "hen and chickens" growing out of holes in the...
view the full question and answer

Trimming damaged leaves on agaves
February 05, 2009 - Some of the leaves on my agaves are damaged. Can I cut them off? If yes, how can I prevent the wound from becoming infected? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Agave americana by seed
July 11, 2007 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants, My Century Plant is fulfilling its one wish and blooming flowers from its massive stalk. Although I am very sad to see it go, it is certainly a sight to behold. This plant, ...
view the full question and answer

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