Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - October 18, 2008

From: Rockford, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pruning, Seasonal Tasks
Title: Trimming native Yucca filamentosa for winter in Illinois
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in northern IL and I have approximately 5 yucca plants, Adams needle, my question is do I need to trim them down for winter for best growth the next year?

ANSWER:

Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) doesn't need pruning per se. You should always cut back the woody blooms stalk as soon as blooming is over unless you are planning to harvest seeds. If you are trying to harvest seeds, the chartreuse-green seed pods should remain on the plant until they turn brown or black and begin to split. This article from Ohio State University on Yucca filamentosa  will give you some information on trimming the basal foliage. If some of your yuccas are beginning to outgrow the area in which you want them to grow, you might do some trimming on the blades that are protruding where you don't want them.  Please be very careful, protecting yourself or whoever is doing the trimming. Heavy clothing covering and protecting the arms and legs, leather gloves and even goggles are all necessary. As you bend over to trim the trunk, those sharp points are going to be trying to get you wherever they can. You especially don't want one of those in your eye. To quote from that article:

"Dead basal foliage needs to be carefully removed with a sharp knife in early Spring (wear gloves; the tough foliage can be sharp on its edges, in addition to the knife), and immature fruiting stalks are best pruned away just after flowering has finished in mid-Summer."

Pictures of Yucca filamentosa

 

More Pruning Questions

Problems with Texas Mountain Laurel in Dallas
May 04, 2010 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel that is about 3 years old. When I bought it 2 summers ago, it was about a foot high. Now it is over 6 feet. It seems to have grown so fast that the branches can't ke...
view the full question and answer

Trimming live oaks in Mamou LA
August 24, 2009 - We have 3 large Live Oak trees in our yard. The problem we are having is when we trim a branch off so we can walk under the branch, the whole branch dies back. Is there a certain way to trim the limbs...
view the full question and answer

Century Plant
April 20, 2013 - I have a century plant that has just begun to bloom. I have a transplanted a few pups, successfully. I am wondering how I am to go about removing the mother plant once it blooms and dies. I'm reading...
view the full question and answer

Tool for removing live oak root shoots in Gonzales TX
August 09, 2010 - I've read your answer to live oak root shoots. You said to get rid of them by going 2 to 4 inches below the surface and cutting them. What tool is best for this shoot removal? I'm getting very tir...
view the full question and answer

Trimming Butterfly Plants
February 11, 2013 - I am looking for detailed information on trimming common butterfly plants: crucita, cenizo, sweet-stem, whitebrush, Mexican trixis, skeleton-leaf goldeneye, white plumbago, turk's cap, desert lantana...
view the full question and answer

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