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Yucca close-up
Yucca close-up  
Yucca
Yucca  
QUESTION: My yucca tries to put out new growth from the center of each leaf cluster, but the shoots keep dying back, as you can hopefully see in my photos.  What's going on?

I've had this yucca for about 8 months. Measured from the top of the soil, it's 34" tall. It came in a smaller pot but kept tipping over, so I moved it into this one, which is 10".    I believe my yucca gets plenty of sun, as I have it on casters and can easily roll it around when I'm home to get E morning, S afternoon, and W evening sun.  When I'm not home, I place it where it can get the most S and W sun from one spot.  I water it thoroughly from the top about every 3 weeks with a weak general fertilizer solution (1/8 tsp 4-15-12 per gallon of water), until the water just starts coming through the hole at the bottom, and then I drain away that water.  The forced hot air winter heat in my house is pretty arid.  I have dozens of other houseplants which are thriving, yet this one seems to need something different, and I haven't figured it out yet.  Pot too big?  Fertilizer wrong?  Watering not right?  I'll appreciate your help.

ANSWER: Hi Ellen,

When new growth turns brown or dies back it is almost always due to root rot. Yuccas can withstand drought quite well, but do not tolerate soil that stays moist for weeks at a time. Your decision to move it into a larger pot was ill-advised because the larger pot with added soil retains water for too long between waterings. In addition, most packaged potting mixes are too heavy and not porous enough for Yuccas.

I suggest that you undo the repotting by removing all of the soil you added, including any on top of the original rootball. Then place the original rootball back in the original pot. If the smaller pot tips over, then set the smaller pot inside of a larger planter and fill in the space between the two pots with pebbles or other material to provide ballast.

Once the Yucca is properly potted again, the soil should dry out about a quarter of the way deep into the pot every 7-10 days. I would stop fertilizing until the plant is once again producing healthy new growth. A fertilizer with a 3-2-1 ratio is more appropriate for a Yucca, although it doesn't make that much difference.

Yuccas are not at all bothered by dry air, so that is not a concern.

Yuccas do better in maximum light, but I don't think it is necessary for you to move it around the house each day chasing the sun. Find a spot closest to the south or west windows and leave it there. The plant will adapt to the light in that location just fine.

I have written articles on repotting and on Yucca care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

If this information has been helpful, please click the Rate Volunteer bar below and enter a rating and nomination for me. I am a volunteer on this site so Ratings are the only compensation I receive for answering plant questions.

Need more information? Visit my website at:
A link to HorticulturalHelp.com

or email me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com or call me at 917-887-8601 (EST)
 
Regards,
Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

Visit my website at: A link to HorticulturalHelp.com



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks so much for your prompt reply!  I see from delving into your website that you are a big proponent of not repotting. Got that. Quite impressed with your common sense in defiance of popular thought, by the way. Here' s my follow up question. Will those affected leaf clusters ever put out good new growth and look right?  Or would you recommend pruning to promote new, normal sets of leaves?  If you recommend the latter, I presume that the how-to info is already available via your website.  Thanks again.

Answer
Hi Ellen,

I seen so many instances of plant problems caused by unnecessary repotting that it is the obvious answer to many plant problems and questions. The conventional wisdom is based on the experience of those who grow plants in controlled environments such as greenhouses. My 30 years of experience is in people's homes and offices where conditions are far from ideal.

Root problems will affect any new growth, including that which comes in as a result of pruning. For now, I would leave the existing new growth alone or at least until it is clear that it is discolored. Hopefully, before too long you will see some healthy new growth coming in. If there is an awkward looking bare stem below the healthy new growth, then pruning may be a good idea. However, you won't know that until after the roots recover and healthy new growth emerges.

Pruning is as simple as cutting off a stem at whatever point you would like to see new growth emerge. Pruning affects the appearance of the plant, but not its health.

I have written an article on pruning that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

If this information has been helpful, please click the Rate Volunteer bar below and enter a rating and nomination for me. I am a volunteer on this site so Ratings are the only compensation I receive for answering plant questions.

Need more information? Visit my website at:
A link to HorticulturalHelp.com

or email me at wcreed@HorticulturalHelp.com or call me at 917-887-8601 (EST)
 
Regards,
Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

Visit my website at: A link to HorticulturalHelp.com  

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Will Creed

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I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.

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I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

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BA, Amherst College

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