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Yucca Plant Problem » Indoor Plant Consultant | New York, NY | (917) 887-8601

Yucca Plant Problem

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Question:

We have a corn plant that is at least 20 years old. it has a single long thin stem and as it has grown the lower leaves died off. we moved 9 months ago and the plant went from indirect light at a patio door to evening sun in a bay window. the plant started to droop over and then we realized the top of the plant turned to grow upright. it is making the plant almost tip over. what can I do to save the plant?

Answer:

Your plant is not a Corn Plant; it is a Yucca elephantipes and they have very different care requirements.

Yuccas do best right in front of a sunny window where they get at least several hours each day of direct sunlight. When they get less light than that, they do not die, but their stems do not develop strong enough tissue to support their weight.

Like most plants, Yuccas require pruning long before they start to bend under their own weight. Because new growth is always at the ends of stems, the stems become ever longer and eventually become top heavy, which is what has happened to yours.

There is no solution to this problem other than pruning back sharply to a point on the stem below where it starts to bend over. Of course, that means you will have nothing but bare stem remaining. However, if the roots are healthy, new growth should emerge from just below where you make the pruning cut and grow upward from there. That will take several months during which the plant will not be very attractive.

You can take the top 8-10 inches of the portion you prune off, strip off some of the lower leaves and insert it into the base of the existing plant. That will probably root and give you a new stem at the base of the existing one.

Follow-up Question:

Here is a picture of the plant. it is in an 8″ pot. do you recommend a particular size pot and type of soil for this plant?

Answer:

I strongly recommend that you leave your Yucca in its existing pot and soil. There is no indication that it is suffering from pot size or soil quality. Unnecessary repotting is the single most common cause of plant failure, so leave the soil and roots alone.