All about the Yucca
In addition to its mesmerizing beauty, Yucca also offers a plethora of benefits. Its roots can be a medicine for osteoarthritis, inflammation of the intestine (colitis), migraine headaches, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stomach disorders, liver and gallbladder disorders, and diabetes.
Due to their sword-shaped leaves, Yucca plants are also known as Spanish bayonet and guard plant. They also have some symbolic meanings, which include new opportunities, loyalty, protection, and purity. The latter is derived from its air cleaning abilities.
Different types of the Yucca
Yucca plants consist of 50 species and belong to the Asparagaceae family. They are identified by their distinctive sword-like leaves and yellow or white variegation. Some look like trees with their leaves on thick cane stems, while others resemble shrubs. A few of the types are as follows:
- Yucca aloifolia also called Yucca yucatana and aloe yucca
- Yucca angustissima – spanish bayonet
- Yucca arkansana
- Yucca baccata – Banana yucca or datil
- Yucca baileyi also known as Yucca standleyi
- Yucca brevifolia – Joshua tree
Origin of the Yucca
Yucca plants flourish in desert regions, with most species being stemless with a rosette of sword-shaped leaves at the base. They grow wild in the southern United States, South America, and the Caribbean and can also be found in Mexico, some parts of the eastern United States, and the West Indies.
How to take care of the Yucca
Yuccas prefer dry soil and are considered drought-tolerant plants, making sense since they have desert domains. They are highly sensitive to waterlogging; therefore, well-drained soil is a must for this plant.
In general, Yucca should be watered only when the top of the soil is dry, perhaps once every 1-2 weeks in the growing summer and spring seasons and sporadically in the winter seasons.
Yellow leaves and soft roots are signs of overwatering, which can be fatal for your Yucca.
- Sunlight exposure: Yuccas love the sunlight. They do really well in bright indirect light. Place them in front of a west-facing window if kept inside and the brightest spot with the indirect sun if kept outside.
- Soil necessities: Yucca needs well-draining soil rather than a high-quality one that is formulated or rich. Opt for an inexpensive potting mix and add in some coarse horticultural-grade sand and perlite to promote drainage.
- Temperature requirements: Coming from a desert home where the temperature can be as high as 32.2°C during the day and as low as -1.1°C at night, Yuccas can adapt to average indoor temperatures.
- Humidity preferences: Derived from deserts, which are tremendously parched regions, Yuccas can survive in your average household humidity, so save yourself a chore and put the misting spray bottle down.
In the wild, Yuccas are subjected to extremely poor soil for growth, making it easy for gardeners to choose a fertilizer for this plant. A liquid fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength can be fed to your Yucca.
Fertilize your plant once or twice at the beginning of the growing season and then once again in the middle of summer. Since fertilizer needs are low, overfeeding a Yucca can be harmful.
According to the research done by NASA on houseplants that purify the indoor air, Yucca was listed among the best air-purifiers. They can remove harmful toxins from the air and provide a safer and healthier environment for you and your loved ones.
Yuccas are mildly toxic to both humans and animals. They have quite a bitter taste if ingested, so it’s rare for dogs and cats to eat them in dangerous quantities. However, they contain chemicals that can cause intestinal irritation and even central nervous system problems if consumed in immense quantities.
Propagation of the Yucca
Yuccas are insanely easy to propagate and can be done through various methods, including division, cuttings, and seed germination.
Propagation through division
To propagate a Yucca by division, you need to remove its offsets during regular pruning and repot them in an appropriate soil mix and place them in a bright, sunny location. Keep them slightly moist until they produce roots and grow into a new plant.
Propagation through cuttings
A Yucca can be propagated through root, stem, or cane cuttings, but make sure the parent plant is mature before allowing it to cut. Plant the cuttings in a pot of properly prepared soil. Put the plant in a shady location initially and keep the soil moist. Wait for 2-3 weeks till the roots begin to sprout.
Propagation through seed germination
To perform seed germination for propagation, gather the seed pods once they're dried out, and the sound of seeds rattling inside can be heard. Store them in a cool, dry place, and then pot them in slightly moist soil. This process can take a lot of time to show progress which can be as long as an entire year.