If you are searching for a tall structural houseplant that conveniently doesn’t require much care, Yucca elephantipes is a great choice. In this article you’ll find all the necessary tips on how to keep your Yucca happy and thriving.
When and how to water Yucca elephantipes
The most important thing when it comes to Yucca care is watering.
Yucca is native to Central America and it’s adjusted to a dry and hot climate. It can withstand long periods of drought because it retains water in its trunk.
We need to apply the same principle when it comes to indoor Yucca care. Since it “works” like a succulent we need to water it only when the soil has completely dried out.
Let the soil dry out between watering.
This is important because, if we keep constantly watering our Yucca trees (keeping the soil moist all the time), it will start to rot – its roots, its trunk, everything.
Just be mindful that the soil has dried out before you go and water it again.
The easiest way to check the soil is with your finger. Stick in as deep as you can into the soil and if you feel any moisture, wait for another few days and then check again. You can also use a wooden stick (like a BBQ skewer). Put it in soil, leave it like that for 2 min and then see if there’s any moisture retained in the wood.
After a while you’ll get accustomed with your plant and you’ll know approximately when it’s time to water it.
The great thing when it comes to Yucca tree is that even if you forget to water it, nothing will happen. I’m not saying to let it dry out for long periods of time, but you don’t need to watch over it like a hawk and water the second the soil dried out.
How to water Yucca trees
If you are worried that you’ll overwater your Yucca I’d advise you to bottom water it. I like to use this watering method with all my bigger plants that are potted in large pots.
You can either pour water in a saucer or in a cachepot (decorative pot) in which your Yucca is standing. Pour a couple of inches of water and wait for 15-20 min. If any water remained on the bottom, make sure you throw it out.
Never let your Yucca stand in water.
If you see that your plant drank up all the water fairly quickly, pour in some more and then check again.
The thing is, we want to give our plants enough water so they can function properly, not deny them of water because they can withstand drought and are susceptible to rot if are constantly watered.
The important thing is to let the soil dry out between watering, then give it a good soak and then throw out all the excess water that remained in the saucer or cachepot (or wherever you were watering your plant).
How much light does Yucca elephantipes need?
Like we said earlier, Yucca is native to sunny Central America and likes lots of sunlight.
It would be best if you placed it somewhere where it will get many hours of bright indirect light. For example, in front of a south facing window. After an adjustment period, Yucca can tolerate direct sunlight also.
Since I always play with my plants, moving them from place to place, I found that it will “maintain” in medium light conditions, too. At least for a while.
Optimal lighting for Yucca are many hours of bright light.
My Yucca went from a medium light place where it got a few hours of afternoon light > to a place where it got light throughout the day > to direct outdoor sun during summer on my balcony.
Safe to say, it really grew this summer while it was outside, but it did pretty good in medium light conditions during winter, too. I’d avoid the north facing window tho.
If your Yucca starts to become pale and yellowish, it may be an indication it needs more light.
One thing that’s good to keep in mind is – the more sun it gets, more frequently you’ll need to water it because the soil will dry out faster.
When to repot Yucca elephantipes and what type of soil does it need?
Repot your Yucca only when it gets rootbound.
If you see roots coming out of the drainage hole, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to repot. Sometimes roots grow out of the holes and cracks following water and moisture, so it may be that they didn’t outgrown the current pot.
When you do decide to repot your Yucca, choose a pot that’s only one size (an inch) bigger that the previous one.
You should always choose a pot that’s only slightly bigger that the root system itself. Not to mention, use a pot that has drainage holes on the bottom so that, when you water, all the excess water can drain out of the pot.
If you are wondering what kind of pot to choose, check out – Plastic pot vs. terracotta pot | Which one is better for your houseplant?
When I repotted my Yucca the first time around, I switched from a plastic pot to a terracotta pot. Terracotta is a breathable material that allows better air circulation and faster water evaporation. In this way I’m more confident my plants won’t be in too moist soil for a long period of time.
How long will the soil remain wet/moist will also depend on what type of soil/substrate you are using.
Yucca is a more succulent type of plant. This means that it doesn’t like to be in moist soil for long periods of time. Because of this we need to plant it in a more breathable, well draining soil mixture. You could use premixed cactus&succulent substrate or you could mix it yourself.
To read more about substrates and how to make your own soil mix, check out – Why is good soil drainage so important for houseplants? | how to make a good potting mix.
How often should a Yucca tree be fertilized?
Yucca doesn’t need frequent fertilizing. You can fertilize it once every couple of months during the growing season (spring to fall).
Since Yucca does not need much fertilizer, you can use a more diluted solution of a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer or succulent fertilizer.
Is Yucca toxic for pets?
Yucca contains a toxic substance saponins that may cause vomiting and other intestinal discomfort if ingested.
If your pet eats a smaller amount you shouldn’t worry. My cat occasionally nibbles on the lower leaves and he never had any problems. Still, I’m cautious and when I hear him eating the leaves I stop him immediately.
Yucca vs Dracaena
Yucca and Dracaena (mainly the ‘Marginata’ variety) are often mistaken for each other. Check out the differences between these two plants in Stop mixing these plants | commonly mislabeled houseplants (with pictures).