How to Grow and Care for Spineless Yucca

Spineless yucca (Yucca elephantipes) plant in window

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The spineless yucca (Yucca elephantipesis) a versatile evergreen plant that thrives both in the garden as well as your living room. They boast thick tree-like stalks topped with clean-lined, sword-shaped leaves.

This form of yucca has softer leaves without spines, giving rise to its name. The sword-shaped leaves do not have sharp, hard edges, so it is a bit more user-friendly than other varieties of yucca. However, its leaves do have a pointy end so be careful when walking near it, Brushing against its foliage won't cut you like other varieties of yuca can.

If provided with ideal conditions, the spineless yucca might even bloom. In the spring or summer, it produces a stalk from its center on which clusters of bell-shaped, white flowers bloom. However, flowering usually only occurs on plants growing outdoors in the ground. Spineless yuccas grown in containers or as houseplants rarely produce flower stalks.

Though a slow grower, the spineless yucca grows more quickly when planted outdoors. When given ample room, it can mature at up to 30 feet tall and almost as wide. However, this shouldn’t scare you away from growing one in your living room. When grown in pots and kept trimmed, the spineless yucca normally reaches a height of 5 feet, making it a perfect floor plant. Its height also makes it a good candidate for a taller addition to an outdoor container garden

Botanical Name Yucca elephantipes
Common Name Spineless yucca, stick yucca, giant yucca
Plant Type Evergreen
Mature Size 15 to 30 ft. tall outdoors, and 5 ft. tall indoors
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Sandy, well-draining
Soil pH Acidic, neutral, or alkaline
Bloom Time Spring and summer
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones USDA Zones 9 to 11
Native Area Mexico
Toxicity Mildly toxic to humans and pets

Spineless Yucca Care

The spineless yucca does well with little maintenance and little attention. The biggest keys to a healthy plant include plenty of sunshine and dry, well-drained soil. Do not over-water this plant.

Occasionally, you might need to trim away spent or sagging leaves to keep your spineless yucca looking clean and healthy. These hardy plants are not often bothered with pests or diseases, but can be bothered by aphids, scale, or mealybugs. The biggest problem encountered is root rot, which is caused by overwatering.

Light

The spineless yucca does best in full sunshine. If grown indoors, the more sunlight you can provide, the better this plant will fare. They can tolerate some shade, but too much shade might cause foliage to turn brown or stretch and take on a leggy appearance. 

Soil

This hardy plant is native to desert areas, which means it thrives in loose, infertile, sandy soil. If you plant spineless yucca in a container, be sure the soil mimics natural conditions by using a well-draining mix. Cactus or succulent mix might seem ideal, but although these mixes drain well, they might be too fertile and might not drain well enough for your spineless yucca.

You can make your own yucca potting mix by combining one part potting soil to three parts perlite or coarse sand. 

Water

Avoid overwatering spineless yucca, which can cause problems with root rot. Always allow the soil to dry out between waterings. These hardy plants are drought tolerant and do not like being overwatered.

Your watering schedule will differ depending on the environment. A yucca in a hot, dry area will need more watering than one in a cooler area. Once the soil dries out, water the plant thoroughly and deeply.

If the yucca is growing in a pot, apply water until you see water draining out of the drainage holes. Allow all this excess water to drain away, then be sure the soil dries out before watering again. 

Temperature and Humidity

The spineless yucca is a very hardy plant and is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures from just below freezing up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, these plants thrive in midrange temperatures and medium humidity levels. This makes the controlled temperatures and humidity levels of indoor spaces perfect for yucca plants.

Fertilizer

Because the spineless yucca thrives in low-nutrient soil, fertilizing is not often needed. If your yucca is in need of some extra nutrients, however, apply a slow-release cactus fertilizer, preferably one low in nitrogen. This is best done during its growing season, about once a month. Yuccas grown outdoors are more likely to need fertilizer than those grown indoors. 

Is Spineless Yucca Toxic?

The spineless yucca is mildly toxic to humans and animals. Because of its strong outer bark and its thick leaves, curious creatures do not usually come into contact with its toxic elements. However, if a curious animal or child manage to ingest yucca, watch for signs of toxicity. This includes vomiting or an upset stomach. The spineless yucca might also cause skin irritation. 

Propagating Spineless Yucca

Propagating your spineless yucca can be done through stem cuttings or offsets. Though the stalk or stem is thick, don’t let that scare you away from propagation.

  1. Using a sharp, clean saw, cut the offset growing from the stalk. If you are cutting the entire stalk, cut at least four inches below the foliage. 
  2. Set the cutting aside and let it dry for a few days. 
  3. Once dry, place the cut stem into well-draining soil. Make sure to firmly press down on larger cuttings to secure them in the container 
  4. Locate the yucca cuttings in indirect light as their roots become established. It is best to keep the soil moist during this time. 
  5. After 3 or 4 weeks, roots should develop. At this point, care for your cutting as you would a mature plant. 

If you cut your entire yucca in two with a stem cutting, it can be a bit worrisome to see your original yucca stripped of its foliage. Of course, there is always the possibility of losing the plant when performing such a large-scale propagation process. However, the mother plant most often grows a new rosette of foliage in no time! If you don’t want to risk such a significant propagation process and your plant is not growing too tall for its place, offset propagation is safer.   

Potting and Repotting Spineless Yucca

The spineless yucca does not need to be repotted often because these plants like to be slightly root-bound. Therefore, repot only when the pot size is hindering growth.

To do this, gently work the roots out from the pot. Shake away any excess dirt and repot your yucca in a slightly larger pot with fresh yucca soil mixture. It is best to repot your yucca in the spring.