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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

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