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How Long Do Yucca Plants Live? (Their Wide-Ranging Lifespan)

How Long Do Yucca Plants Live? (Their Wide-Ranging Lifespan)

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Yucca plants are low-maintenance and do better with a bit of neglect than extra attention. With that in mind, how long do these plants live?

The longevity of yucca plants varies depending on several factors, such as species, environment, and care.

In this article, we’ll explore the lifespan of yucca plants and discuss top tips to help them live longer and happier.

The Lifespan of Yucca Plants

Yucca plants have varying lifespans. A typical yucca houseplant has an average lifespan of five years, and even longer with the best care and proper conditions.

Some yucca species are monocarpic; they live around 4–7 years and die after blooming once. Keep in mind that they can die slowly, as their branches don’t bloom at the same time.

If you spot flowers emerging from the center of the plant, it’s likely monocarpic. For example, these yucca plants have tall stalks of white tulip-shaped blossoms coming out from the middle of their rosette leaves:

  • Beaked yucca (Yucca rostrate)
  • Our Lord’s Candle (Yucca whipplei)
  • Twisted leaf yucca (Yucca rupicola)

Meanwhile, yucca trees can live for several decades. Here are some of them:

  • Spanish dagger (Yucca schidigera)
  • Giant Spanish dagger (Yucca carnerosana)
  • Palm yucca (Yucca decipiens)
  • Spineless yucca (Yucca gigantea or Yucca elephantipes)

Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) take 50 years to mature and live up to 150 years. They can reach heights of over 40 ft, towering in their kooky poses.

Joshua trees are unique to one of the most inhospitable places in the US, the Mojave Desert. Another Mojave native, the much smaller Mojave yucca or Spanish dagger can live up to 50 years.

Can a Yucca Plant Live Indoors?

Absolutely! Yucca plants can stay indoors and thrive for several years as long as they’re properly cared for.

A few species, like aloe yucca (Yucca aloifolia) and spineless yucca, feature strappy leaves atop their cane-like stems. Their height and unique silhouette make for eye-catching focal points in indoor spaces.

How to Help a Yucca Plant Live Longer and Healthier Indoors

Let’s dive into the basics of caring for yucca plants, plus tips to help them live their longest life possible:

1 – Provide Bright, Indirect Light

Yucca plants, especially the spineless variety, make fantastic houseplants and are pretty flexible with lighting.

They love basking in the sun, so give them a spot that gets eight hours of unfiltered sunlight. However, they’ll be just as happy in a room with a couple of south-facing windows, where they can soak up bright, indirect light.

If you have a room with shaded windows that don’t stream as much natural light, put them on the windowsill, and they’ll do just fine. They may not grow as quickly, but they’ll tolerate low to medium light.

In indoor settings with zero light, you can place your plants under artificial grow lights.

2 – Water Your Yucca Plants Sparingly

Yuccas can go long periods without a drink, and you should only water them when the soil has become completely dry.

To check, stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If it doesn’t come out damp, it’s time to water your yucca plants thoroughly.

Allow the excess water to drain from the pot, and don’t let them sit in standing water. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can be fatal to yucca plants.

3 – Use Well-Draining Soil

With a few inexpensive ingredients, you can make a yucca potting medium using this recipe:

  • One part compost or peat moss
  • One part perlite or lava rock gravel
  • One part of horticultural sand

4 – Fertilize Occasionally

Yucca plants don’t typically need fertilizer, but you can feed them once in the early summer for a health boost.

Spread a time-release nitrogen fertilizer evenly on the surface and water the soil immediately.

5 – Prune as Needed

If your yucca plant gets too tall or leggy, you can prune it to encourage bushier growth.

Cut the stem to the desired height, and new offsets will sprout from the cut point.

Can a Yucca Plant Live Outside?

Yes, yucca plants can live outside! Many species are native to dry, hot regions and can tolerate poor, sandy soil and the occasional salty mist.

Yucca plants are tough as nails and can handle a wide range of temperatures. They prefer sunny locations, but some varieties can endure subzero temperatures, too.

Besides, the sword-shaped leaves of many yucca plants have needle-like tips and sharp edges, which makes them more suitable for outdoor cultivation. Their spike can penetrate deeply into the skin and deposit the toxic chemical saponins.

That said, yucca plants lend a tropical charm to any outdoor space and fit virtually all types of gardens, including:

  • Flower beds
  • Container gardens
  • Gravel or rock gardens
  • Urban gardens
  • Formal gardens

The drought-tolerant yucca is an architectural plant often used in xeriscaping. This landscaping technique needs little to almost no watering at all.

How to Care for Yucca Plants Outside

Here are some tips to ensure your yucca plants thrive outdoors for years to come:

  1. Plant yuccas in well-draining soil. You can amend the soil with coarse sand and gravel to increase aeration and drainage.
  2. Yuccas love the sun, so plant them in spots that receive at least six hours of sunlight daily.
  3. Water them deeply and then allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
  4. Add a slow-release, balanced fertilizer to the soil’s top layer once every growing season to promote growth.
  5. Trim off yellowing or dead leaves to give room for new leaves to grow.
  6. If you live in an area that gets heavy downpours, place your yucca in a location that doesn’t get waterlogged.
  7. Cut back the flower stalk once your yucca has stopped blooming and the fruit has appeared.

Can a Yucca Plant Be Left Outside in the Winter?

The spiky Yucca is a diverse group of sun-worshipping plants. You’ll find all kinds of Yucca plants out there—some tall and imposing like the Joshua tree and others low-lying rosettes like the dwarf yucca.

Yucca plants typically grow in areas that can get scorching hot and bone-dry for most of the year. However, while the sand mirrors the sun’s heat during the day, it cannot keep it, and deserts get icy cold at night.

So, even though they thrive in desert-like conditions, yucca plants can withstand temperatures that dip below freezing temperatures. It’s all thanks to their thick, waxy foliage and incredible adaptability.

Some varieties can brave harsh winter temperatures between -10 and -30°F. If you hail from these zones, these yucca plants are known to survive cold snaps over the years:

  • Soapweed yucca (Yucca glauca)
  • Banana yucca (Yucca baccata)
  • Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa)
  • Spanish dagger (Yucca treculeana)
  • Spanish bayonet (Yucca harrimaniae)
  • Beaked yucca (Yucca rostrata)
  • Dwarf yucca (Yucca nana)

How to Protect a Yucca Plant From the Cold Weather

Just because you pick cold-hardy yucca plants doesn’t mean they’ll automatically thrive in frigid climates.

Hard freezes that stretch for a week or more can hurt yucca plants with shallow roots. Not to mention, heavy snow can damage their leaves.

These versatile plants can handle just about anything, except being stuck in wet, bog-like soil. You can help your yucca plants weather frosty conditions with these tips:

  1. Protect your plants from northerly winds by planting them along a south-facing wall or fence.
  2. Cover your plants with a frost blanket, plastic sheet, or burlap to trap warmth and protect the leaves from frost damage. Take the covers off during the day so the plant can breathe and moisture can escape.
  3. Apply about a 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the plant’s base to insulate the soil and protect the crown and roots.
  4. Do not water your plants before a hard freeze. Extra moisture in the soil can freeze and damage the roots and crown.
  5. After a heavy snowfall, brush off any snow on their leaves.
  6. Move your potted yucca plants indoors if possible.

You can also use these tips to trick your semi-hardy yucca plants into adapting to colder regions.

Don’t worry if your plants appear wilted or dead after winter. If the crown is healthy, new leaves will pop up in springtime.

Final Thoughts

So, how long do yucca plants live?

Yucca plants can live for many years. Some monocarpic varieties stick around for 4–7 years, while yucca trees span decades in the wild.

As houseplants, they can also thrive for several years indoors with some TLC. So, give your yucca plants the best care to keep them pretty and healthy for many years.

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