Pruning and trimming a yucca may look rather harsh, but it's a very strong and vital plant that can easily recover when properly cared for.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor Karen Thurber cautions, "Some yuccas have very sharp leaves. When pruning, safety glasses and gloves are recommended."
Unlike most plants, where pruning means the cutting of branches and blooms, the yucca is a cane plant, and thus pruning means cutting the trunk. Pruning isn’t necessary for outdoor yuccas, though it makes for an easy way to keep it from completely overpowering the yard.
TIP: Thurber advises, "Yucca plants grow in two forms, tree-like or in a rosette. Each are pruned slightly differently. Yuccas that grow in tree form can be pruned to control their size. Yuccas that grow in rosettes require only the removal of dead leaves and flower stocks."
The best time to do your pruning is in the spring, shortly before the growing season. Determine the halfway mark on your yucca, and using a saw or similar cutting device, lop off the top leafy section of the trunk. If you don’t want to make it quite as short as the halfway point, you can cut higher. Pruning is as simple as that.
As a bonus, after cutting the trunk, you can remove the leaves from the top section (making careful note of which end is the top) and plant that section. Care for it just as you would the bottom, with plenty of sunshine and light watering, and pretty soon you’ll have a second blooming yucca.
Pruning Leaves And Flowers
It isn’t technically pruning, but you can cut off the leaves and blooms of your yucca plants as well. Removing the leaves or blooms can be done at any time of the year without damaging the plant, whether the bloom is old and dying or just starting to grow. There's no need to wait to prune after flowering. Occasionally, leaves and blooms may start to look unsightly or discolored, especially toward the end of the growing season. When this happens, feel free to remove the leaves or flower stalks.
When removing flower stalks, use sharp pruning shears and cut the stalk about 3 or 4 inches above where it's growing out of the main stem.
It's important to provide a great deal of bright sunshine for the recovering plant. Consider fertilizing once or twice during the growing season, but if you plan to fertilize, be sure to consult with someone knowledgeable of yucca plants, such as workers at a nursery that sells yuccas. For a freshly pruned outdoor yucca, water very lightly, or set up a drip irrigation system for the plant, but this is only for the harshest and driest of climates. On average, the yucca should be fine surviving off regular rainfall, even after heavy pruning.
TIP: Thurber recommends, "After pruning, do not over water the yucca plant. Allow the soil to dry between waterings."