Indoor Yucca Plant Care – Problems From Over Care Over Maintenance

Question: I’ve had a Yucca plant in my home for about 5 years. When I bought the plant it had three 3 trunks or canes in a 14-inch pot but now one trunk has rotted away in the past six months. In order to “revive” my houseplant I decided to pull out the rotted cane and repot the plant into a larger pot. The plant is now in a 20-inch pot with new soil. I water the plant every week and use plant food when I water. There are new leaves coming out but the ends or tips are brown. The plant sits about 8-10 feet away from my south window. What can I do to save my plant? – Kathleen, Dallas, Texas.

leave spots on yucca tree

Answer: First of all thank you for the complete description of the plant problem/situation. Often times the information is spotty at best and tough to reply. What you have described covers what would be two of the most common problems house plant owners “face” or I should say “cause.” The difference in your case is you waited 5 years or so. All too often plant owners assume repotting and adding plant food or fertilizer will help the plant, usually it causes more problems.

Let’s first start with the lighting. Yucca comes from southern Mexico and craves high direct light. The first part of providing better care and maintenance begins with more light.The plant is sitting way to far away from a good light source; this results in weak growth and the plant using very low water needs.

Most indoor house plants DO NOT need to be repotted. The excess soil only puts more moisture around the roots. Watering on a weekly basis, the pot being large in size and the plant not sitting in bright light I do not see any way for the soil to dry out. I would first say the plant is over potted and over watered.

Fertilizer should be used on plants actively growing plants and not as a way to “fertilize and care the plant” back to health. Excess salts in fertilizers just burn the unhealthy roots. The cane of your yucca probably declined slowly over the years from bad lighting and over watering.

fungus on yucca plant

The brown tips on the new growth are simple telling you the roots have some problems.

Indoor Yucca Pests – Is It Scale

At times a mature yucca sitting in the same place and pot for years may look like it is infested with scale. A plant owner takes care in spraying the plant with an insecticide to kill the houseplant bugs and then rinses the plant down with water to make sure no harmful chemicals hang around the house. Then panic starts in as you wonder where this ugly “scale” came from and if it will infect the other indoor plants.

Before treating any plant for scale it is important to know if the problem is scale. Scale should scratch of flick off with your fingernail. Scale also will leave behind a sticky substance. However, yucca often times gets a fungus many mistake for scale. If fungus is the problem remove the leaf and lower leaves to control the disease since this removes the source of new infections.


If scale is the true problem I like to go with a natural “pesticide” solution like neem. Neem is safe and should not hurt you, the plant or environment. After applying or spraying the plant, rinsing off any sprayed on material only washes off the “treatment.”

Always keep an eye out for ants on your houseplants. Ants are great farmers and love to farm scale and aphids. Keeping a watchful eye is the best way to fight problems like scale on a yucca plant or house plants on general. Scale is a plant pest that spreads slowly, by monitoring your plants regularly, cleaning and grooming scale not be an issue with your house plants.

yucca growing in Florida outdoors in the landscape

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

brandi June 19, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Is this plant poisonous to pets or children

Hema June 25, 2010 at 3:45 am

My Yucca plant is 25 Years old.Now it has reached the ceiling and i dont know what to do? Can i cut it or plant it outside?

Daniel July 21, 2010 at 9:28 pm

I have a yucca cane i bought this summer so ive only had it for like 3 months or so.. anyways its always been healthy i think.. it has 2 trunks they get brown crispy leaves now and then but i just trim them off, is that normal? but the main reason im writing is because today i came home from work and my plant had some brown leaves and i just went to trim them off like normal. but the brown leaves werent crispy or dry feeling, in fact they felt kind of moist and i wanna say rotted… but only one cluster of leaves was like this.. the rest of the plant is somewhat yellow though. but i just cut off the entire stem because it was moist and rotted also. am i doing something wrong? the plant is in my basement bedroom and it gets pretty good sunlight at evening time.. i water it every sunday, it has a pretty good size pot, 12 inches i think it is. and i put some decor gravel on top of the soil. should my plant be in even more sun? please write back and let me know what you think i should do..

Marilyn Riddle August 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm

My cand yucca has some yellow leaves on it that soon turn crisp. It is in the same pot that it was bought in. Also at the shoot near the cane is black. What must I do to save this plant? Thank you,

Joseph McAtee August 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I have a yucca plant by my pool with various off shoots. I have it trimmed once a year. The whole unit looks good and a flower is blooming now on one of the off shoots. Problem their has appeared a small round hole at the main base, the first ever in 35yrs. is this going to be a problem? Should I close it cement??? Any help would be appreciated. I do have racoons that come most every nite and drink from the pool and they have broken off branches.

mike August 29, 2010 at 10:53 am

I bought my yucca cane plant about 2 months ago and it is not doing well. It has one cane with a few clumps of leaves that branch out. These leaves however hang down and are soft where its connected to the cane….The cane itself is soft in spots as well and does not seem healthy. Is there anyway to help the leaves stiffen up and branch outward instead of falling to the ground ….I moved the plant right next to a window with more light, so hopefully that will help.

stephanie August 30, 2010 at 11:41 am

i have a yucca tree in the garden it is about 10ft tall this year as in other years it has flowered three lovely ones . What i would like to know is ,is it normal for it to have shoots 6 of them at the bottom of the trunk. i have never seen this before . i await your reply.
thanks steph