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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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Wednesday - October 02, 2013

From: Hampshire, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents, Wildflowers
Title: Overwintering Yucca Seedlings in Illinois
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have many yucca seedlings I started this year. My question is what do I need to do with them to overwinter here in Northern Illinois and when do I plant them in the ground for best chances of survival?

ANSWER:

Congratulations on starting a good crop of yucca seedlings. I am assuming that you have a hardy yucca (There's a list of some hardy species at the http://www.yuccaagavaceae.com/hardy.html website). The most popular are Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) and Yucca glauca (soapweed yucca).

Outdoors, hardy yucca need to go through a gradual progression to winter conditions so that they become acclimatized to the weather.  To do this, slowly reduce the soil moisture so they go dormant - even if they look slightly shriveled. Also, they have to have well-drained soil or else the roots will rot during the winter. Water pooling around the plant will also cause rotting issues so make sure they are not sitting in a low area. Plunge the yucca seedlings with their pots into a garden bed late in the fall before the ground freezes. Put some evergreen boughs over the yucca to help collect the snow during the winter. This will help provide insulation and reduce the chance of wind burn or freezing and thawing damage.  As a backup you can bring a few indoors and overwinter them in a warm and slightly moist environment (or keep them dormant in a cool and dry location like the back of an attached garage).  

 

From the Image Gallery


Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

Soapweed yucca
Yucca glauca

Soapweed yucca
Yucca glauca

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