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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Monday - September 16, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Yucca rostrata needs some help in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We planted an expensive 5-6 foot Yucca rostrata last fall. It bloomed beautifully in the spring. We installed an irrigation link to water the recently planted areas with succulents, viburnums, spartan cedars, bamboo grass, and perennials while we were on an extended vacation. When we returned the y.rostrata had numerous brown leaves, but I didn't worry until within a few weeks most of the plant leaves had died. I turned off the water source to the plant. There are a very few green leaves left, including one apical cluster, but if a small percentage of the plant survives, is it able to again become a healthy, beautiful specimen? Should we remove it, remove the 90% leaves that are dead, wait and see, or what??? I appreciate your advice.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you almost drowned your Yucca plant. How did the other succulents fare?

Yucca rostrata is a synonym for Yucca thompsoniana (Thompson's yucca) which is the name used in our Native Plant Database. I’m including a couple of links about Yucca thompsoniana and yuccas and agaves  in general. One of the things to notice in the rteadings is that Yuccas require little water and do not like to have wet roots.

The apical cluster of green leaves of your plant will produce more green leaves if the plant survives. It is normal for the lower leaves of a yucca plant to gradually die in a process termed sequential senescence . The leaves that have died should be removed to help the appearance of the plant as you wait to see what happens. Your yucca may never be the beautiful specimen that you had before, but by using the care tips in the links above, it may survive.

Another approach is to try and propagate new plants from your old plant if it is still alive. This rather crude done video  explains this process.

 

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