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House Plants/Yucca Elephantipes


Hi Will
My Yucca plant has drooping leaves, dried out looking stems, black, brown, looking tips, like its dried out.  We believe we have over watered, and we have since changed the pot that the plant was purchased in to a ceramic pot (14").  It's grow height is 3-8'.  We are in the (what we believe) dry stage. Therefore we have not watered the soil since we have repotted the plant for about 2 weeks.  New leaves are still growing but the stem look extremely dry and yet the stem is still firm. How long does it take for this plant to recover if it is possible?? We brought the plant in the spring of 2011 and repotted twice before we put it in the correct pot and soil combination. PLEASE HELP!!!! Also if you could recommend books or websites that could help someone without a green thumb!!! Thanks Doc!!!!!!

Hi Anthony,

If the stems are shriveled, then it is just a matter of time before all the leaves on those stems die. Shriveled Yucca stems are beyond recovery. The symptoms you described are all consistent with rotted roots that are mostly dead and can no longer provide the plant with the water and nutrients that the plant needs.

Yuccas need the soil around their roots to dry out every week or so. If you water too often, then the roots will rot. But what is not commonly understood is that a pot that is too large and soil that is not porous will also prevent proper drying out in the root zone.

Yuccas rarely need repotting and yours probably never should have been repotted in the first place. While it is true that an unglazed ceramic (terra cotta) pot will allow soil to dry out sooner than a plastic pot, using a pot that is too large will prevent proper drying even if it is terra cotta.

I would need several photos to be able to determine the extent of the damage already done, so I cannot forecast its chances of recovery. Remove all soil from the surface that is not in direct contact with the roots. Then, allow the soil to dry at least 3-4 inches deep into the pot before adding a small quantity of water. At this point that is all you can do and, honestly, that is probably not enough.

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 I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

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

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Will Creed


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.


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.

BA, Amherst College

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