Yucca Cane Plant (Yucca Guatemalensis)
Like the black and white of a yin-yang symbol (or the chocolate and peanut butter of a Reese’s cup), Yucca Cane plant (Yucca Guatemalensis) blends two opposite halves into an even better whole. Up front, Yucca Cane is a full-on punk rocker, all spiky leaves and defiant, “who needs water and shade?” attitude. But once you get to know it, this plant is so laid back and easygoing, you’d swear it spent all day listening to smooth jazz and quoting Jeff Bridges’ lines from The Big Lebowski.
Native to much of Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, etc), Yucca Cane cuts a striking silhouette. Its trunks, or canes, are covered in slightly wrinkled light-gray bark that looks more than a little like elephant skin. Each cane is tipped with a deep green starburst of leathery, sword-shaped leaves, 12-18” long and barely 1” wide, which fire out at all angles.
Imposing as they appear, these leaves aren’t the legitimately dangerous dagger-leaves of the closely related Yucca Aloifolia (commonly called the “Spanish Bayonet”), which are both stiffer and tipped in an actual spine. Rather, Yucca Guatemalensis' leaves are softer and spineless, which make it much less likely to stab you as you walk by. It’s a good thing.
That’s not to say Yucca Cane isn’t every bit as tough as it looks with regard to plant care. Their needs are so minimal, it feels non-intuitive. Most tropical plants love water. Yucca Cane likes its soil to dry out to a good 50% of the pot’s depth between each drink. Most tropicals love bright, but indirect light and wither in direct sunlight. Yucca loves full sun—but can handle less (medium light / partial shade) if need be. Most tropicals appreciate plant food. Yucca wants no more than a half dose 1-3 times a year. It also ignores most pests and diseases. Most plants dislike A/C vents, heating vents, being located near doorways where they can get blasted by cold air, and so on. Yucca Cane barely even notices.
Don’t let the name fool you—there’s no “yuck” in this Yucca whatsoever.
Characteristics and traits of a Yucca Cane Plant (Yucca Guatemalensis)
- Scientific Name: Yucca Guatemalensis (formerly Yucca Elephantipes and Yucca Gigantea)
- Genus: Yucca
- Family: Agavaceae
- Common Name: Spineless Yucca, Giant Yucca, Stick Yucca, Blue Stem Yucca, Soft-Tipped Yucca, Elephant Foot Yucca
- Indoor: All year as long as temperatures are above 50°F
- Outdoor Zones: 9-12
- Type: Perennial; Propagated via pups, seed, rhizome cuttings or stem cuttings.
- Mature Height: 6’-7’ indoors, 15’-30’ outdoors
- Mature Width: 2’-3’ indoors, 15’-25’ outdoors
- Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX
- Growth Rate: Slow
- Flower: Rare - Single central stalk of white, bell-shaped flowers with soap-like fragrance.
- Foliage: Spiraling masses of stiff, sword-shaped (up to 4’ long but less than 4” wide), gray-green leaves.
Plant Care and Advice for Yucca Cane Plant (Yucca Guatemalensis)
- Grown In: Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 9-12
- Light Requirements: Full sun to part shade / medium light
- Water Requirements: Give moderate water during summer, allow soil to drain and let top 50% of soil get dry between waterings. Decrease water in cooler months to avoid root rot.
- Drought Tolerance: Great
- Temperature: Likes average indoor room temps. 65°-85°F. Outdoors can handle a wider range of heat and cold, but bring indoors when temps fall to 45°F.
- Air Purification: Good
- Toxicity: Mildly Toxic. Saponins in plant can trigger vomiting in pets and people.
- Fertilizer: General liquid diluted to half strength, 1-3 times a year during the growing season
- Container Friendly: Yes - But good drainage is a must
- Planting: Yucca Cane doesn’t mind being slightly pot-bound (it’s better protection against root rot), so don’t feel you must repot immediately. If the roots aren’t sticking out the drainage hole, this slow-grower can wait. You can instead “refresh” the yucca’s pot by changing out the top 2” of soil. Yucca prefers sandy, well-drained soil similar to that of its desert homeland. A 3:1 mixture of sand and peat is a good choice, as is regular cactus or succulent mix. Place the soil in a pot that has drainage holes and is heavy enough to hold the plant upright and in place. Yuccas can get top-heavy, so they may need some support when first replanted. They also catch the wind like kites if placed outside, which is all the more reason to have a heavy pot.
- Plant Care: You know that full sun spot that melts any other plant you put there? That’s your Yucca Cane’s favorite spot. Give it all the sun you want—but be aware that your plant can also make do with medium light if that’s all that’s available. Water-wise, Yucca Cane is highly sensitive to waterlogging, too little is definitely better than too much. During the spring and summer growing season, give your Yucca Cane a stiff drink, let it drain completely, then wait. Once the soil is dry to a depth of 2” or 50% of the pot’s total depth (whichever is more), water again. In the winter, decrease water drastically, as the plant’s roots will quickly develop root rot is allowed to sit in cool, soggy soil. Yucca Cane needs very little fertilizer (especially if outside). A half-strength dose of general liquid fertilizer 1-3 times a year during spring/summer is enough. Similarly, Yucca Cane doesn’t require added humidity, though it won’t object to a light misting now and then. If Yucca Cane outgrows its space, it’s easy to prune. Just chop it off at the height you want the new leaves to start. A new bud will soon develop. The chopped stem can be rooted to form a new plant, though the process can be challenging because of Yucca’s aversion to moisture.
- Expert Advice: Yucca Guatemalensis will drop its lower leaves naturally as it grows. However, if an unusual number of leaves begin turning yellow, especially if the leaves collapse and look floppy, the plant likely has root rot and will need to be repotted into dry soil quickly. Although it rarely happens, yellow leaves can also be caused by too little water. You’ll likely know which is which based upon your current plant care routine. Brown leaf tips, especially if edged in yellow, are typically another sign of too much water. However, if the soil is dry and/or the leaves also show white spots, it’s possible that Yucca Guatemalensis is getting too much sun. This is a very rare occurrence, but it is possible, especially if the plant was suddenly moved from shade to full sun without a gradual acclimation period. Yucca Guatemalensis is virtually pest free—it’s one plant that the dreaded spider mites actually dislike—but it’s not entirely immune to pests. Aphids, mealybugs, or scale insects can all appear, especially if the plant is stressed from too little light or too much water. Neem oil is an effective treatment, as is (if the infection is light) dabbing the pests directly with rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab. Irregular white or light yellow-beige “freckles” (actually scars) on Yucca’s leaves can indicate the presence of Yucca Plant Bug, Halticotoma Valida. Look for beetle-like insects with a red head and a blue-black abdomen. Again, neem oil or insecticidal soap should get rid of them. The best way to propagate Yucca Guatemalensis is to watch for smaller plants, or “pups” to form near the plant’s base. These offshoots actually form from the plant’s underground rhizomes. When they develop enough roots of their own (they’ll likely turn from white-ish to dark green), they can be cut free from the parent plant and placed in their own container. If you don’t want to wait for pups to develop on their own, stem or rhizome cuttings are another option. Place 3-inch-long sections of rhizome horizontally in well-drained soil and keep it warm and humid, and you should see roots and shoots forming within several weeks. Stem cuttings are a bit trickier. New growth roots better than hardened old growth, so take a cutting, trim off the lower leaves, dip in rooting hormone, and treat as you would a rhizome cutting. It can be difficult to find the right balance between too dry, just right, and too wet, but it is possible. If your Yucca Guatemalensis happens to bloom, they also grow true to seed, which takes about 3 weeks to germinate.
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GET FREE SHIPPING
when you buy any 3 or more items!
That's right - As soon as your shopping cart contains any 3 items, your shipping is FREE! Eligible for ground shipped orders going to the same address only.
And if you only order one or two items, shipping is just $7.50 per item!
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Do you ship all year long? Yes! In the cold Winter and hot Summer months we check each order destination to be sure the temperature is safe to ship your live plant. When the temperature borders on the "too cold" to ship side, we may choose to ship your plants with a heat pack at no extra charge. If the temperature is still "too cold" to ship, we will hold your order in the warmth of our greenhouses until we can find a safe window of shipping weather and you will be notified via email.
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