With sword-shaped leaves perching on sturdy cane stems and reaching majestic heights of between 6 and 8 feet, yucca plants easily stand out wherever they are placed indoors.
Given the right conditions, they are a delight to grow with few problems while care and maintenance are basic and routine.
But as with most houseplants, gardeners would have to deal with some common problems while growing the plant.
These are generally easy to resolve especially when handled as soon as they occur. Most of these problems are mostly linked to the plant’s care gone wrong.
In this article, we would be discussing all the possible indoor yucca plant problems to expect, the causes, the fix to each problem, and vital tips on how to head off these issues.
Indoor Yucca Plant Problems
While there are hundreds of yucca plant species, only about 20 are grown indoors.
Hardy in agric zones 9 through 11, they come with an interesting mix in terms of leaf color and variegations.
The leaf color ranges from bluish to green hues depending on the specie while the variegations are in different shades of white, creamy, and yellow.
Yuccas are tropical plants with origins in the Caribbean and parts of Mexico.
They grow best in loose, well-draining soil in bright locations. They tolerate shaded areas too.
And while they don’t mind full sun for a few hours, you’d want to avoid that unless you don’t mind the tips of the leaves turning brown or white.
If all the conditions for growth are met, care and maintenance are typically pretty straightforward.
You’d only have to water when the soil is almost completely dry since they can survive drought-like conditions.
This translates to about once a week in the growing season and about once every three weeks in winter.
Most yucca plant problems, when they occur, are due to growing and care issues like too much water, lighting issues, diseases, incorrect application of fertilizers, and pests.
The problems are usually diagnosed by specific symptoms either on the leaves or stems.
In the following sections, we’d look at these common problems, the symptoms, and the solutions unique to each one.
Common Indoor Yucca Plant Problems and Solutions
As already stated, yucca plants can survive for long without water.
A common mistake many new gardeners make is to assume the plant needs more water than they are giving it.
The result is an over-watered soil creating the perfect conditions for soil fungi to grow and attack the roots.
The result of that attack is called root rot where the roots begin to decay.
The early symptoms of decaying yucca roots include drooping and yellowing or discoloration of the leaves.
Discoloration might also affect the stem especially close to the base. The stem would feel spongy or very soft to touch instead of firm.
The definitive confirmation of rotting yucca roots is via examination of the roots. Infected roots would appear darkish while giving off an awful smell. Healthy roots are usually grayish.
Solution: Saving a yucca plant with root rot is probably the hardest problem you’d have to deal with. Below are the steps involved:
– Unpot the plant to reveal the roots
– Wash the exposed roots with water
– Cutting out all infected roots using a pair of sterilized pruners
– Then repot it in a new pot with fresh, well-draining potting mix.
Tip: Make sure the drainage holes are not blocked.
Brown tips on yucca plant leaves
Yucca plant leaves developing brown tips is most commonly associated with underwatering or when the soil is extremely dry.
This would happen if you forget to water the soil long after the due time.
Some gardeners consider this a normal problem because, to avoid over-watering, they allow the soil to get bone dry.
However, it becomes a serious issue when this is allowed to go on for long.
Other problems associated with incredibly dry soil include drooping and limp leaves.
If this persists, the roots, followed by the plant would die from lack of water.
Solution – Unlike over-watering, the fix is simple. Watering the plant thoroughly would revive it.
To ensure the plant gets all the water it needs after underwatering for so long, consider doing the following:
- Fill a large saucer or drip tray with water (a bathtub or kitchen sink would work too) and set the pot on the water.
- Leave it there for about an hour. That’s about the time it’d take for the water to soak the soil almost to the top.
- Moist the topsoil with a little water and return it to its original location.
- The plant should perk back up in a few days.
Yucca leaves developing dark spots
Brown or darkish spots of yucca leaves are usually signs of fungus infestations.
Known as fungal leaf spots, it’s caused by water droplets on the leaves and insufficient airflow in the vicinity.
The droplets o water can either be caused by splashing water on the leaves while irrigating the soil or by excessive humidity combined with dropping temperature.
Solution – You want to ensure that while watering, aim the stream at the base of the plant to avoid splashing water on the leaves.
Also, put a bit of effort into improving air circulation while making sure the environment is not too humid.
If your yucca is grouped with other plants, isolate it. Increasing ventilation is probably all you need to bring the humidity down.
But turning on heaters for a while to dry out the air is also something to consider.
To eliminate fungus leaf spots, simply spray the leaves with neem oil or any copper-based fungicide.
You might have to repeat this treatment multiple times until the spots are no longer visible.
Growing tips: Yuccas can adapt to most indoor temperatures between 30 – 90℉ and humidity levels from low to moderate.
So misting the plant is hardly required.
Yucca plant leaves turning brown
This is commonly caused by insufficient exposure to light.
The progress of the problem can be tracked by the changing color of affected leaves from a darker color to yellow and finally brown.
Keep in mind that this is only a problem when it affects most of the leaves at the top.
It is normal for the older leaves at the bottom to turn brown and eventually fall off.
Solution: Move the plant to a brighter location but away from direct sunlight.
Indoor yucca plants are not heavy feeders. A slow-release or liquid fertilizer applied once a month in the growing season is sufficient to keep them happy.
Excess fertilization, especially with nitrogen-rich products, causes excessive growth without the plant maturing properly.
This leads to plant collapse because the stem can’t support the plant. The plant also becomes susceptible to diseases.
Applying excess fertilizer rich in potassium and phosphorus compromises the effectiveness of the root system. The result is plant fatality.
Solution – The first thing to do is to quit fertilizing immediately. Then you want to flush out the excess fertilizer from the soil using water.
Flushing out excess fertilizer involves watering the soil heavily until excess water drains out of the holes at the bottom.
Repeat this in about 3 watering sessions for best results.
A very effective method is to simply transplant the yucca plant into fresh potting soil after unpotting and removing most of the old soil from the root system.
Then stick to the standard procedure of fertilizing not more than once a month in the growing season.
If this was the schedule that triggered the problem in the first place, cut down the schedule to thrice in the growing season: at the beginning of spring, late spring, and middle of summer.
Yucca plant pests problems
Yuccas experience little to zero pest problems.
But they are susceptible to the usual suspects when it comes to houseplant pests.
These include mealybugs with their telltale shiny, whitish markings on the foliage; the tiny wooly, aphids that cluster on the undersides of leaves; scales that show up as bumps on leaf surfaces; and the round, black agave bugs that feed on leaves.
In small colonies, these pests are not very dangerous. But given enough time, they’d multiply and destroy the plant.
Solution: Yucca pest issue can be fixed by cleaning the plant with a damp cloth or picking out the tiny pests with the fingers.
But this is only possible with small colonies.
For larger infestations, the recommended strategy is to spray affected foliage with neem or horticultural oil several times until the pests have been eliminated.
Other treatment options include cleaning the foliage with insecticidal soap or rubbing alcohol.
Indoor Yucca Care Tips at a Glance
Temperature – Temperatures between 60 – 85℉ are ideal for growth
Humidity – They love moderate humidity. Can adjust to dry conditions
Soil – The best soil for indoor yucca plants is a light, well-draining potting mix.
Light – Indoors, yuccas love bright, indirect light.
Water – water once weekly when the soil is almost dry depending on the conditions. The plants require considerably less water in winter.
Fertilizer – Once a month in the growing season; use liquid or slow-release fertilizer.
When it comes to yucca plant problems, the biggest issue you’d likely encounter is root rot as a result of over-watering.
With the right growing conditions and care, though, the drought-tolerant yuccas are practically problem-free.
That said, other problems that may occur are easy to spot with the symptoms appearing on the leaves and stems.
These problems are caused by growth-related issues such as improper fertilization, lighting, temperature, pests, and under-watering.
Fortunately, resolving these problems isn’t likely to take you out of your comfort zone in terms of the requisite gardening skills needed.