Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

Thursday - August 21, 2008

From: Woodinville, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Eliminating yuccas from yard in Woodinville, WA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My plant areas are being overrun by Yucca plants. They are also growing and destroying my asphalt driveway. How can I get rid of some of them permanently?

ANSWER:

We are still trying to get our minds around yucca anywhere but in the desert Southwest. Of the 28 yuccas in our Native Plant Database, not a single one is listed as growing naturally in Washington State. However, members of the Genus Yucca are all similar enough that we can talk about them in general terms. You do have a problem getting rid of your unwanted plants. Yucca has a root you wouldn't believe, big and going deep. It propagates itself both by seed and by offshoots, or pups, from the main plant. It sounds like your yuccas think your asphalt driveway is desert land, and is growing right through it.

There is no magic potion. You are going to have to arm yourself with heavy clothes, long leather gloves and goggles to protect your eyes from those stilleto-like leaves, as well as some serious cutting equipment. First, cut down as much as you can of the leaves, or blades, if you prefer. You probably already know that their edges are sharp, their tips are sharp, and they are tough. Begin with the offshoots and work your way in. Any piece of root left in the ground will sprout a new plant. Dispose of these cuttings in heavy paper bags (they'll rip plastic to shreds) and dispose of them. Don't put them in the compost, or pile them somewhere, they stay lethal for a long time. Although we have no documentation to prove this will work, you might ask your nursery to recommend some herbicide that is meant to be painted on cut-off trunks to kill the roots. Cut the yuccas that you can't dig out down as close to the ground as possible, and then paint with the solution.

It sounded like you were planning to keep some of the yuccas. Don't let them get ahead of you again, be vigilant to root out the offsets and destroy them before they get firmly entrenched. The yucca is a survivor, growing in some of the bleakest desert land in the country. Your plants must think they have gone to Yucca Heaven with all that good dirt and water.

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Eliminating prickly pear
March 24, 2007 - What is best practice for eliminating 100+ acres of dense prickly pear?
view the full question and answer

Growing Conditions for Yucca cernua
October 22, 2011 - Nodding Yucca or Yucca cernua: I bought many lovely plants at the Wildflower Center sale on Friday, among them, a Nodding Yucca or Yucca cernua. 24 of the 25 plants I bought are already in the grou...
view the full question and answer

Is Sedum recommended for a greenroof project in Houston
July 23, 2008 - Would you recommend using Sedum for a green roof project in Houston, Texas? Will the humidity effect the sedum? If sedum would be a poor choice, what would you recommend for Houston?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Agave suckers
November 18, 2014 - I'm trying to transplant Dragon Toes Agave suckers. Is this similar to other agave pup transplants?
view the full question and answer

Cactus failing to thrive in New York City
November 21, 2008 - My cactus seems to be either weak or dying. Its long stems are bending and softer than the rest. What is happening to it?
view the full question and answer

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