Yucca plants are known for their long, spiky leaves and bright-colored foliage available in interesting shades of green.
They’re popular indoor plants, too. Many believe that yucca plants symbolize new opportunities and protection, so some homeowners treat them as a charm.
Therefore, some may think that seeing your yucca plant losing leaves could be a bad omen. Most of the time, it’s just a sign that you need to adjust your care.
So, why is your yucca losing leaves?
A yucca plant losing leaves is a telltale sign that it’s dying. Temperature changes, insufficient or too much fertilizer, and overwatering are some causes.
Apart from those mentioned, other factors like plant stress could be the reason.
In this guide, we’ll explore the possible reasons why yucca plants lose leaves and their corresponding fixes.
Yucca plants are well-loved for their majestic foliage, so seeing them lose leaves can be a total bummer.
First, affected leaves start drooping, change color until they wither, and eventually fall off the plant. Most of the time, this phenomenon happens due to improper care.
To find out how this happens, check out the following factors:
Often, your yucca plant losing leaves isn’t something to fuss about. Some leaves fall off over time as part of the plant’s natural aging process.
Old leaves that have gotten brown and dry are beyond saving. You may allow old leaves to fall off naturally or cut them off using pruning shears.
Dying leaves can be unsightly, as we want to keep our plants looking lush and fresh all the time.
To safely trim off dying yucca leaves, use sterile pruning shears or scissors to cut off affected leaves.
Make sure to cut the leaf just above the base, so the base should remain intact after removal.
Cutting the leaf properly is crucial because exposing the trunk makes the plant vulnerable to pests. Pests are typically attracted to the sap or moisture on the exposed trunk and feast on them.
On the other hand, you may remove the dying leaf by gently pulling it downwards. This technique requires extra care as you may end up pulling the leaf from its base.
Excess sunlight or shade is frequently the reason why yucca plants lose leaves.
While yuccas are drought-tolerant succulents, too much sun can burn their leaves and cause them to wither and fall off.
That said, yuccas thrive best when exposed to partial shade throughout the day. Three to six hours of direct sunlight exposure daily can work too.
For indoor yuccas, keeping them in a well-lit room where they can get filtered light is vital. Note that artificial lighting doesn’t help improve the yucca plant’s growth so it’s best to avoid them.
Too much heat or cold triggers plant stress that makes yuccas shed off leaves at an increasing rate.
Since yuccas thrive best in temperatures between 65 and 75°F, anything below or beyond this range is detrimental to their health.
Both indoor and outdoor yuccas are vulnerable to extreme heat.
Particularly, placing your indoor yucca near a machine that gives off heat, such as a refrigerator, can trigger heat stress.
As for outdoor yuccas, it’s better to plant them in shady areas with occasional sunlight. As a result, yuccas get balanced warmth and coolness throughout the day.
Outdoor yuccas, especially the tropical variety, are most vulnerable to frost damage during winter. While they can tolerate light frost, heavy freezing can make them lose leaves and eventually die.
You can protect your yucca plant from frost by covering them with fabric blankets or warming them up with incandescent or non-LED light.
Plant fertilizers contain nitrogen which is vital in accelerating plant growth. However, too much fertilizer causes nitrogen toxicity. In effect, your yucca leaves become weak, dry, and eventually, fall off.
In addition to yucca plants losing leaves, overfertilization weakens stems. It attracts pests and diseases, too.
Knowing what and when to fertilize your yucca plant is essential. We recommend fertilizing them with slow-release fertilizer with low nitrogen content.
Fertilizing them up to four times a year at a three-month interval is favorable.
Some sources say that fertilization should be done once a month for indoor yuccas. It’s best to check your fertilizer’s instructions before feeding them to your plant.
Meanwhile, the best time to fertilize your yuccas is during their growing season. Yuccas thrive well during spring or summer, so make sure to give them the right amount of nutrition.
Not giving your yucca enough water is another factor that contributes to heat stress that results in leaves turning weak and falling off.
Yuccas are highly tolerant of heat, but to withstand extended periods of heat waves, you must replenish them with water from time to time.
The best way to determine if it’s time to water your yucca again is by checking the dryness of the soil.
Once the first three inches of the soil are completely dry, it’s a sign to water your yucca again. Give your plant enough water and stop once the water comes from the draining holes.
Most importantly, water the soil directly. Overhead watering or spraying water on your yucca can promote mold growth and make the roots brittle.
When the soil is too damp due to overwatering or lack of drainage, your yucca plant may suffer from root rots.
Rotten roots don’t just affect your plant’s root system. They cause their leaves to die and fall too.
Yuccas can’t live with little water, but they can’t tolerate excessive amounts of water as well.
Frequent watering makes your yucca stems weak. At the same time, their leaves lose color and start detaching from the stem.
A pot that’s too large for your yucca plant drains poorly and remains damp for a long time. Select the right pot to prevent water accumulation that can damage your plant in the long run.
Choose the right pot size with draining holes at the base to avoid damage from excessive moisture. Ideally, a pot that’s one size wider in diameter than your yucca’s root system is best.
The type of pot is essential as well. It would help to opt for pots with a porous material such as terracotta. Avoid plastic pots as much as possible because they’re less breathable.
Aside from too much heat or lack of water, transplanting can trigger plant stress. Plant stress often occurs in plants that are transferred from pots to soil or vice versa.
In effect, plants wilt and shed their leaves. That’s why proper replanting is crucial to ensure your yucca remains healthy even after replanting.
Before replanting, remove any spongy or decaying roots with sterile scissors or pruners. Ensure that the roots are completely dry before replanting.
Don’t recycle the soil if possible, especially if your yucca has previously suffered from fungal infestation.
Meanwhile, check out the following steps for replanting your yucca plant:
- Choose a well-draining and slightly alkaline soil. A sandy soil mix is preferable.
- If you’re replanting your yucca in a flower bed, create a hole that’s twice the diameter of the plant’s root system.
- Don’t plant your yucca too deep and ensure that the root system is covered enough. Therefore, the root crown shouldn’t protrude to the surface.
- When transplanting to a pot, note the correct pot size. Your pot’s size should accommodate your yucca’s root system. Add one to two sizes wider than your yucca’s root system diameter.
- Water your yucca right after transplanting it.
- As the plant is still recovering from replanting, don’t expose it to direct sunlight for long periods.
Pests like aphids and Agave plant bugs love targeting yucca leaves. These pests feed on the luscious juices inside the leaves.
Once these pests invade your plant leaves from the base, the foundation of the leaves weakens, causing them to droop and detach from the stem.
You can use soapy water, broad-spectrum insecticides, or neem oil to get rid of these pesky bugs.
Apart from pests, fungi are notorious for causing your yucca plant to lose leaves. You can prevent them by avoiding overhead watering and using good-quality soil.
Some diseases are treatable by horticultural oils and fungicides. However, there are stubborn ones that are resistant to fungicides.
Stem rots, for example, is a fungal disease caused by Fusarium species. This plant disease causes your yucca stems to decay. As the disease progresses, the rots spread to the leaves and cause them to wither and fall.
Unfortunately, fungicides sometimes aren’t effective against them, so it’s best to isolate affected yuccas from other plants to prevent further spread as you treat the infected plants.
Thankfully, yucca leaves will ultimately grow back within months. However, some varieties may grow their leaves back after a year or more.
Meanwhile, proper trimming with sterile pruners or shears is one way to accelerate leaf growth. You don’t have to wait until a leaf falls off entirely; you can snip it off to make room for new growth.
Yucca plants are low-maintenance plants that thrive both indoors and outdoors. Despite that, they’re prone to environmental factors and diseases that make them lose their leaves.
Extreme heat, excess moisture, and plant stress are some of the reasons why yucca leaves die and detach from their stems. Several plant diseases caused by bugs or fungi can weaken yucca leaves and make them fall too.
That said, proper care and maintenance are crucial in keeping yuccas healthy. In addition, good nutrition with slow-release fertilizers is beneficial too.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.