The yucca plant is a popular addition to many gardens. It originates from the hot, dry parts of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. There are up to 50 different species of yucca, each characterised by evergreen bunches, hardy leaves and large clusters of white flowers. Certain yuccas also grow fruits, seeds and roots, some of which are edible.
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Natural distribution of the Yucca plant occurs in large volumes across North and Central America, extending northward from the Mexican state of Baja California into the southwestern United States, through the central states up to Alberta in Canada. Eastward, the yucca grows along the Gulf of Mexico, moving northward again through the coastal and inland states of the Atlantic. The southern range of yucca through Mexico extends into Guatemala.
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Some of the most commonly grown yuccas are the spineless yucca, the Spanish Bayonet, the Spanish Dagger and the Adam's Needle. The spineless yucca is a very popular indoor plant, as it is low maintenance and has a distinctive appearance. The Spanish Bayonet is a clumping variety with one to three stems per plant; a good choice in the background of a garden (its spiky leaves make it unsuitable to place where people might come into contact with it). The Spanish Dagger is a similar, safer alternative whose leaves are far less sharp. The Adam's Needle is quite different in appearance--it looks like decorative grass and produces sweet-smelling flowers when in bloom.
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In its natural habitat, the yucca can grow up to 30 feet. As an indoor plant, it is also a larger than average plant; some varieties grow as tall as 10 feet, with leaves that can reach 2 1/2 feet in length. A fully grown yucca may measure 3 feet in width. The Adam's Needle variety can grow as tall as 6 feet, with each leaf reaching 2 feet in length.
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A garden yucca will thrive provided it lives in soil that drains well and gets a lot of sun (although some species are able to survive in 10 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, proving its versatility as a plant). The key to a healthy outdoor yucca is giving it sufficient space to grow; it has a large root network and another plant may sprout close to the original. Make sure dead leaves are removed to allow new leaves to form. After the Yucca has flowered and produced fruit, cut back the flower stalk.
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A good variety of yucca to grow indoors is the spineless yucca. It loves highlight but can survive in low light provided it is adequately cared for. It is best placed in a window facing east, west or south. It is crucial that you do not overwater your yucca, or let it sit in water. When buying your indoor yucca, pick one that has solid roots. Fortunately the yucca does not suffer from extensive insect problems. If you do find any bugs, a quick spray with a suitable insecticide will solve the problem.