Yucca is a genus of evergreen desert plants. Species of the genus are known for their hardiness and resistance to drought. Yuccas generally reach a mature height of 5 feet and a mature spread of 3 feet. A number of yucca cultivars, or varieties developed especially for gardening and landscaping, exist. Growing yucca in a landscape or garden environment beings with planting; knowing when to plant yucca specimens grown in different manners is important in developing healthy plants.
Cuttings are specimens grown from portions of living plants. When cuttings are planted they sprout roots and grow in much the same manner as a plant propagated by seed. Species of the yucca genus can be grown from cuttings taken from the stem or the rhizome of the plant. The rhizome, also known as the rootstalk, is a horizontally oriented stem that grows both above and below ground.
University of Florida horticulturalist Gary W. Knox writes that 3-inch cuttings are sufficient to grow a new plant. According to Knox, these cuttings should be taken and planted in late winter for optimal results, but only in warm environments. In cold environments, yucca cuttings should be planted in the spring or earlier indoors and then transplanted to the garden in the spring.
Yucca species grow well from seed. "Fine Gardening" magazine reports that yucca seeds should be planted in the spring when the outdoor temperature is between 12.7 and 17.7 degrees C. Seeds can be grown in containers indoors anytime of the year so long as the temperature is kept between at a minimum of 12.8 degrees C.
Clemson University horticulturalists Marjan Kluepfel and Bob Polomski recommend setting specimens grown in containers outdoors for the spring, summer and fall and wintering them indoors. Some species of yucca, such as the Golden Sword (Yucca filamentosa 'Golden Sword') cultivar, will survive cold winters out of doors. Other plants, such as Spanish Bayonet (Yucca aloifolia), will not. Containers are also recommended for species of yucca adapted to dry environments but grown in excessively humid regions like Florida.
"Pups" are new growth that forms spontaneously in the area around species of yucca. Technically, these are not new plants, but satellite shoots of the original plant that sprout from the rhizome. However, pups can transplanted, or removed and replanted, to form new specimens.
Transplanting pups is a simple process. Pups will appear as new growth in the spring or summer and can be planted outdoors as long as it has sufficient time to take root before soil hardens in the winter. If moved to a container, pups can be transplanted anytime of year. Gardeners or landscapers with plants producing a number of pups should be wary; Knox warns that such growth often results from plant stress or damage.
Transplanted specimens and those grown from cuttings or seed will only flourish in full sun exposure. Yucca species are drought tolerant and prefer soil with medium, little or no moisture content. Species are known to be deer tolerant though have problems with cane borers, scale insects and fungal leaf spots. All sources indicate that once a yucca specimen has taken root, it is extremely simple to grow and requires very little maintenance, provided proper conditions are met. For instance, desert yucca species grown in Arizona require little of gardeners. However, desert species grown in Alabama should be carefully monitored.