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

Sunday - July 14, 2013

From: Brooklyn, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Soils, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Non-blooming yuccas in Brooklyn CT
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have outdoor yucca plants that don't flower - - in full sun. Why?

ANSWER:

You have yuccas growing outside in Connecticut? No kidding? Wow!!

We always think of yucca as a desert succulent, surviving in hot, dry desert. In fact, where this Smarty Plants Team member grew up in West Texas, yucca were about as close to trees as we came. However, we have learned since that there are 28 species of the genus yucca native to North America, of which exactly one, Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle) is native to Connecticut. In fact, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map, it is found growing natively in Windham County, in northeast Connecticut. We learn something every day, and we do hope that is the yucca you have. Whether it is or not, we will try to find out why it is not blooming.

If you follow the plant link above to our webpage on this plant, you will see this information on where the plant is normally distributed:

"Native Distribution: Long Island and PA, s. to FL and LA
Native Habitat: Dry, sandy, open woods, hills & prairies"

Here also are its growing conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Coarse, dry sands."

You already stated that it had full sun (which we consider to be 6 or more hours of sun a day), and it looks like Adam's needle really, really likes coarse sand to grow in, which is probably why so many of them grow in the desert.

We found several interesting comments on this yucca in the forum Dave's Garden, particularly this one from Minnesota:

"Here in Minnesota, it's always a treat to find tropical-looking plants that can survive subzero weather in winter, so naturally I decided to pick this up a few years ago and plant it next to my koi pond. What a great, care-free plant! I was worried it wouldn't survive a string of -20ºF lows two winters ago, but sure enough by spring, it was still green and thriving. It also takes a lot of abuse, as the deer chomp on it all winter long, but it grows back larger and stronger every year.

My only complaint is that it has yet to bloom, after five years. It has nearly full sun where it's planted, so I'm not sure if the climate is just too cold and/or wet to support summer blooms, but I love the evergreen foliage, anyway. I'm looking forward to acquiring some suckers so I can start a succulent garden along my street where the sun tends to fry my lawn."

You didn't say how long your plant has been in the ground; nor did we find any definitive information on how old it needs to be to bloom. But this comment does indicate it will grow in your climate. We would just suggest you make sure you have provided appropriate drainage for your plant (that's why it likes to grow in sand).

Prescription: Patience.

 

From the Image Gallery


Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

Adam's needle
Yucca filamentosa

More Soils Questions

Patience for slow-growing Baptisia
July 07, 2004 - I have three different varieties of well established Baptisia that I have had for several years ... none of them bloom. One of my plants got a very small flower in April, but just pooped out after th...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for poorly drained clay soil
March 24, 2008 - I am trying to establish a native plant garden in my back yard, I have two places where water stands for a few hours after a heavy rain, and the soil is black clay. Can you recommend any perennials 3...
view the full question and answer

Nitrogen Fixing plants for Austin Texas
September 22, 2014 - I recently saw a piece on Central Texas Gardener recommending winter covers to fix nitrogen such as elbow rye, hairy vetch, and crimson clover. Can you recommend a native plant that will grow through...
view the full question and answer

Desert Willow tree for Plano, TX
March 03, 2013 - I live near Dallas, Texas. I have a small Desert Willow tree that I would like to plant. What is the root system of this tree like? Would I be able to plant it near our patio? How far from the house'...
view the full question and answer

What soil to plant native plants in Huntsville TX
April 14, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently purchased several plants at the Spring Plant Sale and would like to know when planting them, what type of soil should I use. I typically use partial native soil an...
view the full question and answer

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