Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Sunday - May 31, 2009

From: Howell, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pruning
Title: Center of Yucca filamentosa looking rotten in Howell, NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in central NJ. I planted some Adam's Needle Yucca in my garden around 5 years ago. Since then, they kept growing and ended up developing three trunks off of the main trunk. I noticed recently that the spot where the three trunks meet the main trunk looks rotten. I'm afraid that one day those three trunks are going to break off. What should I do?

ANSWER:

We couldn't find any pictures or descriptions of Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) that indicated a trunk that developed  additional trunks. That particular plant is usually referred to as "trunkless" or "minimal trunk." However, the yucca is incredibly hardy, and will grow back from little chunks of root. Even if one or more of the trunks broke off, the main plant would be all right. However, if it is concerning you, or unsightly, we would suggest you prune away one or even two of the additional trunks, electing to leave the one (or two) that look most hardy and unaffected by the rot. Possibly more air circulation on the area will help. This is not an easy job, and you will have to protect yourself from the leaves or blades of the yucca. It is a very fibrous plant, so be prepared to use a sharp cutting tool; a long-handled tree pruner might be good in that it will keep the person doing the cutting away from the defensive spines of the plant. If this makes the center that appears rotten more accessible and visible, you can examine it to see if, indeed, something is going on there. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

More Pruning Questions

Shape of common ninebark in Canton MI
April 24, 2010 - I have planted one center glow ninebark in a triangular area in between my front walk and driveway. It looks a little odd just having one plant, but I originally did this b/c of the mature plant heig...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Anacacho Orchid tree in Austin
May 17, 2010 - I have an Anacacho Orchid that is about 9ft tall. It is early May and has not started to put out leaves yet on the old growth. I can't even see any noticeable buds yet. It is still alive because I ha...
view the full question and answer

Pruning a Young Cercis canadensis (Redbud) Tree
April 05, 2014 - I have a redbud tree that was transplanted when very young (five years ago). It just started budding last year. It is growing very well but the branches are low. It's like it's growing out instead o...
view the full question and answer

Carolina Jasmine failing to turn green in Pleasant Garden NC
April 26, 2011 - We planted Carolina Jasmine last year and it did great. This Spring we only have about 2-3 small green leaves beginning on the vines. We did not cut them back in the Fall. Is it time for them to be tu...
view the full question and answer

How to Prune a Mountain Laurel to make it more tree like in Hendersen, NV
April 28, 2011 - How do I prune a Texas Mountain Laurel into a tree? Just bought a 15 gal. with two trunks above the crown. Was told that multiple trunks are their natural growth, which is OK. But all research call...
view the full question and answer

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