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House Plants/yucca plant problem


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: Hi Julie,

I would have to see a photo to be able to understand what you are describing. The photo should show the entire plant, including its pot.

Your Corn Plant will grow toward the light. However, with older plants that have never been pruned, the stems are often too weak to support themselves and flop over.

I look forward to seeing a photo to I can help you properly.

~Will Creed

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

corn plant
corn plant  
QUESTION: here is a picture of the plant. it is in an 8" pot

ANSWER: Hi Julie,

Thank you for the photo. 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.

I have written detailed articles on pruning 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.

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.

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Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

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

QUESTION: do you recommend a particular size pot and type of soil for this plant?

Hi Julie,

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.

I have written an article on repotting that explains all of this in detail. Email me if you would like a copy.


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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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