How to Grow and Care for Spineless Yucca

Spineless yucca (Yucca elephantipes) plant in window

Grumpy Cow Studios / Getty Images

In This Article

The spineless yucca is 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 smooth leaves with no spines, giving rise to its name. The foliage of this plant is softer and lacks the same sharp, hard edges that other yucca varieties. This makes it a great choice as an indoor plant, as brushing against it is not known to cut or poke you like other yucca plants may.

If provided with ideal conditions, the spineless yucca may even bloom. In the spring or summer, it produces a stalk from the center of the foliage that holds its clusters of bell-shaped, white flowers. However, this usually only happens for spineless yuccas planted outdoors in the ground. Those grown in containers or as houseplants rarely produce these inflorescences.

Though a slow grower, the spineless yucca grows more quickly when planted outside. When given ample room to grow, it can grow up to 24 feet tall. However, this shouldn’t scare you away from keeping one in your living room. When kept in pots and 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
Plant Type Evergreen
Mature Size Up to 24 ft. tall outdoors, and 5 ft. tall indoors
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type Sandy, well-draining
Soil pH Acidic, neutral, or alkaline
Bloom Time Spring and summer
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 9 to 11, USA
Native Area Central and North America
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 of this variety include plenty of sunshine, avoiding overwatering, and ensuring that the soil is well-draining.

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

Light

The spineless yucca does best in bright, indirect light or full sunshine. If kept indoors, the more sunlight you can provide the better this plant will fare. They can tolerate some shade, but this may 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, sandy soil that is low in nutrients. If you plan to plant spineless yucca in a container, be sure the soil mimics natural conditions by using a well-draining mix. Cactus or succulent mix may come to mind, but even though these dirt mixes are well-draining, they may not drain well enough for your spineless yucca. They may also be too rich in nutrients for your yucca. You can make your own yucca potting mix by mixing one part potting soil to three parts perlite or coarse sand. 

Water

You will want to avoid overwatering spineless yucca, as this can cause problems with root rot. Always allow the soil to dry out before watering. These hardy plants are drought tolerant and prefer being thirsty to being overwatered.

Your watering schedule will differ depending on the environment your spineless yucca is in. 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 it is in a pot, water until you see water draining out of the bottom of the pot. 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, try giving it 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 may be more apt 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 get a hold of your yucca, watch for signs of toxicity. This includes vomiting or an upset stomach. The spineless yucca may 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 from the stalk. If you are cutting the whole stalk, cut at least four inches below the foliage. 
  2. Set the cutting aside and let it dry for a couple of days. 
  3. Once dry, place the cut stem into well-draining soil. Make sure to plant any larger cuttings firmly to keep them from falling over. 
  4. Keep these new 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 cut 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, sticking to offset propagation is safer.   

Potting and Repotting Spineless Yucca

The spineless yucca does not need to be repotted often, as 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.