Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Spineless Yucca, Giant Yucca
Yucca guatemalensis

Family: Agavaceae (ah-gav-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Yucca (YUK-uh) (Info)
Species: guatemalensis (gwa-teh-mah-LEN-sis) (Info)

Synonym:Yucca elephantipes
Synonym:Yucca gigantea

13 members have or want this plant for trade.


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Gold (Yellow-Orange)
Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 41 photos.
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17 positives
3 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral luvyuccas On Mar 22, 2013, luvyuccas from AXTON, VA wrote:

I would like to ask some questions about yucca elephantipes i have one and want to plant outside in ground im in zone 7 i would like some help from other elephantipes growers

Negative rucky On Apr 13, 2010, rucky from Huffman, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Gotta agree with palmbob. DON'T plant this tree where you will have to remove them later. I bought one of these as a house plant for my wife years ago. It got huge so before my daughters wedding I planted it in the front flowerbed and I liked the looks of it. Then there were two and at last count 8 all about 15 foot tall. We spent the better part of yesterday trying to cut down and dig up the trees. The bottom ball of one is at least 4' wide and I can't find the bottom of the root so I cut them off at the ground and I am trying to kill the roots with a brush killer and stump killer before I dig them up. hopefully they wont come back this way.

Positive juliep127 On Feb 2, 2010, juliep127 from Louisville, KY wrote:

I have several of these in my house. One is 15ft tall in my house. I water it every now and then like a cactus. Mine do great. I put them out in the summer to catch the rain and bring them in during the winter. Mine are great!!!

Positive peejay12 On Jan 3, 2010, peejay12 from Porthleven, Helston, Cornwall
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

I live in Cornwall, (zone 9b) England, UK, and have had a positive experience with this plant - - so far.

In the cool, wet British climate this plant is somewhat more tender than in the US, and is not often grown successfully. Even in the mildest areas it will be damaged or killed by frosts below -6 C. My plant survived -7C last year, but only because it was close to the house. This was an unusually severe frost for this region. I would suggest growing it with extreme drainage, in a sheltered position.
The trunks seem to be hardier bthan the growing tips, so the obvious solution is to make a 'hood' to protect the growing points. A polyester pillow cover is good -- ideally this should be removed whenever the weather is warmer. Even if the crown of leaves is killed off, regrowth slowly starts in June from shoots which appear on the trunks and bases. I noticed how the plants over six feet high escaped damage, being above the cold air which tends to be coldest near ground level.

In the colder inland areas of California these plants are constantly cut back by frosts, and consequently produce many new trunks, gradually forming a huge thicket of trees, all growing from a wide-spreading base, twenty feet across or more - a bizarre wonderful sight.

Definitely a plant worth every effort to grow - even if you live outside of zone 10

This plant is closely related to Yucca aloifolia - both have similar-shaped leaves, although those of elephantipes are larger, softer and the spine is soft and flexible, and both have minutely serrated leaf margins. Many people in California have noticed that the 'classic' type - with 4 -5 foot leaves is less often seen, while a shorter leaved type is getting commoner. Perhaps these plants are hybrids with Y. aloifolia, or gloriosa -- they seem to be hardier than the 'classic' form, and are the plants we grow in the UK (known as the Marks and Spencer Yucca)

I strongly suggest that someone should try to cross this plant with Y recurvifolia, the resulting hybrid could have the tree-like growth of Y elephantipes, and the recurving leaves and some of the hardiness of Y recurvifolia --- and could be grown in colder regions.

Positive weka2005 On Dec 31, 2009, weka2005 from Christchurch
New Zealand wrote:

I bought one of these plants from a lady here in Christchurch about 2 months ago. Its in a 12 inch pot and was about 3 feet tall with 1 trunk and 16 or 17 leaves. The lady told me that they like it dry and to only give it a cup of water once every couple of weeks. I did this for the first month but since then have given it good regular watering and its really taken off. Sprouted an extra 6 or 7 leaves at the top. Seems I got bad advise. Only thing is that its got a skinny trunk over a foot long, to the bottom leaves, but only about 1 1/4 inch diameter. I've seen shorter ones with much thicker trunks and extra branches, Anyone got any advise? Is it possible to encourage lower growth. I am a bit of an amateur.

Positive stephenp On Nov 12, 2009, stephenp from Wirral, UK, Zone 9a
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

Absolutely love this plant, one of the best architectural plants you can get for the garden.

Despite its connotations, this Yucca does not need desert aridity, and actually prefers cool, humid conditions.

In the UK this is a plant that will survive in some places and not in others. Large specimens can be found in seaside resorts, two examples being Portsmouth area and Llandudno.

In my area Yucca guatamalensis are becoming more popular, and many are popping up around gardens around the peninsular, there are also a few large ones around and about.

My Yucca g. started it life being grown in an unheated greenouse but 2 years ago we put it outside in its pot, and since then it has flourished, taking temperatures down to -5C.

Last year we put it in the ground, and ever since it's been growing very fast.

Unfortunately however the last winter killed off many of this Yucca species in zones 8 and lower in the UK which suggests it is a borderline plant for the UK.

A tip I would suggest is that as these are sold as houseplants in the UK with double trunks, grow them until they pot bound - this creates great architectural value to the trunk - then plant them in the ground, otherwise they tend to grow thin trunks.

Positive hoosierfarmboy On Apr 30, 2009, hoosierfarmboy from Franklinton, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

During December 2008 my wife and I were helping clean one of the historical cemeteries on the south side of New Orleans (members of Save Our Cemeteries, not-for-profit) and this bedraggled seven-foot tall potted plant was dragged to the gate to be discarded. I asked if I could have a try at rejuvenating it and perhaps rooting some cuttings for use throughout the cemetery. I was given permission, but it was late April 2009 before I was able to retrieve the plant. What kept it alive during that time I have no idea, but today I brought it home, even in more of a sad condition than before, but alive. It is extremely rootbound in a 12-inch pot. I poured four gallons of water on it, slowly; hardly any came out of the bottom of the pot; and tonight it already looks better! Now for the TLC!

Positive JamesPark On Feb 19, 2009, JamesPark from Auckland
New Zealand (Zone 9a) wrote:

A very attractive plant with large white flowers and stunning foliage. In the many areas of the UK many plants are put outside after outgrowing their surroundings inside as a houseplant. The plants flourish in the plentiful rain, and grow steadily all year round. However, they burn if planted in the sun immediately, and so must be gently acclimatised. A much nicer alternative to Cordyline australis.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Dec 29, 2008, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

I would strongly differ on this plant with the negative votes. To me it's an icon of warm California-along with Washingtonia and Bougainvillea. Some plants trained to only a few trunks develop massive bases larger than Beaucarnea's- only rivaled by the largest Aloe barbarae's. And it can do it while handling temps into the teens. Not invasive at all,just where planted, it's tenacious to cling to life. It's not as if it spreads itself around. They can flower almost any time all year..some spring,mine in fall. Although almost all are now hybrids,I would say the original soft tipped plant is lost to the trade. Tips are sharp,the trees make good bird habitat,fortresses to cat predation!
Every time I look at one I planted as a cutting stuck in the ground 20 years ago,and now with a HUGE trunk 4-5' wide,I think how lucky I am to have such a great looking plant that asks nothing of me-It never is watered or fertilised,makes no mess or bothers other garden plants. What more do you want?

Neutral macybee On Jun 30, 2007, macybee from Deer Park, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Formerly Purplehbee. My plant is still going. It's had several branches fall off from being too heavy. We have even had to cut some off being in the walkway.

Mine is growing out instead of up now. Stop!
Also mine has never flowered. Any Hints?

Positive basilio On May 12, 2007, basilio from Athens
Greece (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is by far the most commonly grown subtropical plant in Greece, mostly as a balcony/yard potted specimen but also as a garden or even indoors plant. In our climate it's virtually bulletproof and it can sustain cold, heat, sun, shade, drought and general abuse without the slightest problem. It's not the most ornamental plant one can find, that's for sure, but it's cheap, fast-growing and reliable, and even adds a bit of "exotic" look. Palmbob is right, is VERY difficult to kill this plant (it keeps growing back again and again) and it's certainly over-used, but I think this is due to its adaptability and also, the fact that it's ideal for novice (or lazy or indifferent) growers & gardeners. Having said that, a nicely maintained or tree-size speciment is always a nice sight.

Positive TheresaHill On Mar 17, 2007, TheresaHill from Lincoln, NE (Zone 5b) wrote:

We bought this plant in 2003 while vacationing in Florida...didn't even know what it was. It was about a foot tall. It eventually grew to over 5 ft. in a pot and developed several offshoots. Last summer, we took it out of the pot which it had outgrown and just started chopping pieces off. We repotted and now have 6 plants, two of which are at least 5ft. We are going to plant a couple outdoors and see what happens. We live in Lincoln, NE zone 5B...Let you know how they do. We affectionally called it the DEATH PALM (until we found out it was a Yucca) it WILL draw blood!!! Palmbob is can't kill this plant.

Positive PeteOZ On Nov 5, 2006, PeteOZ from Melbourne
Australia wrote:

This plant is really easy to grow and Im suprised by how much stores will charge for this weed, given its growth speed, $30 for a 30cm plant.
In Australia there are three forms available, Gold Star, yellow marginal variegation, Silver Star (white marginal variegation) and the plain wild type which is very fast given good conditions and lots of water and fetiliser. These guys love stuff like fish emulsion and seaweed as well as lawn fertiliser, just throw it all on!. Another way to speed them up is to put your washing grey water on them, this makes them go ballistic.

I spent alot of time hacking of rogue shoots off a 5 meter specimen, but these make great plants to propagate, just stick them in a pot, strip off the bottom leaves and they will be happy. The one good thing is that they are relatively spineless so are good for living areasa and provide good tropical foliage.

The flowers are good but not as spectacular as other species as gloriosa and they flower relatively short. My large one was also attacked by scales, however honeyeater birds have been coming and removing them so this has helped the plant alot. As a rule this species likes more water than many other species and giving it really makes them grow faster.

Positive BUFFY690 On Feb 25, 2006, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I acquired my plant through a trash pile at Sam's Whoesale Club. Someone had knocked off one little piece from another plant and I took it home and simply stuck it into a potting mix about 1/2 sand and 1/2 Nursery Blend Potting Mix (Fafard 3B). It took to the medium well with only keeping it barely damp. It has now tripled in size, and has lost its lower leaves and I believe starting to trunk. I keep it outdoors in the spring, summer, and fall, then put it in my bathroom for the winter. It gets fertilized about 1X every three months (but I am going to feed it more regularly this year to try and get a little more size to it this year).
Fabulously easy plant
Recommend for any beginner.
Does stand moderate neglect.

Positive jessmerritt On Jun 25, 2005, jessmerritt from (Zone 7b) wrote:

This is actually a wildly popular houseplant where I live. Large specimens can be found cheaply in Walmart, Lowe's and Home depot. I've got one with four main stalks, the tallest being 9 ft. tall, and each stalk has many pups. It's a low care houseplant as long as you provide enough light. Mine prefers minimal water.

Positive koolkatken On May 25, 2005, koolkatken from Auckland
New Zealand wrote:

Easily grown in Auckland, NZ. Have some in pots and some in garden- definitely faster in garden, but even my potted one has grown to about 6' in about 2 years. Easy to transplant (if you can still lift). Will survive wrenching from ground and re-planting without a hiccup.

Positive poirot2001 On Nov 25, 2004, poirot2001 from Gold Coast
Australia wrote:

Yucca elephantipes orginated from Mexico.In Australia only about 10 years. In the flower shops sold very expensive.
I think it will be a cheap plant soon here because propgating it is so easy. The plant can live without water for months. I love this plant.

Positive rapturre On Jun 7, 2004, rapturre from Tacoma, WA wrote:

Excellent species - Indoors and Out. Particularly nice looking in rock gardens & rock stream beds. Almost impossible to kill. Reduce water and increase sun indoors to prevent leaf loss. Easily propogated without leaf loss by air layering.

Long spindly plants can be chopped into 6-10" sections, ends sealed with mud or clay and will last for months out of soil. When ready put one end in dirt and it will spring to life in a few weeks. Mature indoor plants can easily have stalk base diameter over 3". Group 3-4 larger plants to create humidity zones. There sharp blades help protect more delicate plants placed under from being walked on.

Negative palmbob On Apr 15, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a species that is EVERYWHERE in Southern California... another nearly impossible plant to get rid of once in the garden. Moved into a home in Thousand Oaks 10 years ago and there were 3 of these monsters- messy, scraggly things that I laboriously hacked down, and then dug up when they promptly grew back. Digging them up was a challenge- deep and heavy root ball, almost like an extension of the fat trunk (nearly 4' in diameter). And they grew back AGAIN... only now there were hundreds of them... every little bit of root or stem or whatever seem to begat more yucca.

If well grown and groomed nicely, it can make a good specimen plant- huge yellow-white flowers in the spring.. but no one bothers to take off the dead leaves and so it just looks messy. Mess attracts mess and it is often at the base of these plants, or among their leaves, where some people seemed drawn to toss their trash.

I used to like this plant OK, but now I'm on a mission to get rid of it in my garden where I can (good luck!). Maybe I wouldn't be so negative if they weren't on nearly every street in the Los Angeles area.

New comment: now that I live in Acton outside of Los Angeles, I have a newfound respect for this species and its relative hardiness, though it is somewhat marginal in Acton (where it snows sometimes). Plants are NOT invasive here (almost nothing is invasive here save a few perrenially dead-looking natives and tumbleweeds) so I am once again trying to grow it..

Variable species- most comon form seen are those with lancelote stiff, straight leaves. But there is also a form with longer, somewhat floppy leaves (perhaps floppy only because of the added length) that has a more tropical appearance.

Trunks can become massive affairs growing to several yards in diameter.

Neutral ATF On Mar 23, 2004, ATF from Spring Hill, FL wrote:

Grows fast, easy to propagate from cuttings, however looks "ratty" as lower leaves quickly look beaten up and must be removed.

Positive purplehbee On Jul 4, 2003, purplehbee from Deer Park, TX wrote:

I have one that looked like this first picture. It was not growing just sitting there looking same ole, same ole.
I threw it out on the back of my deck and several years latter, its taller than I am 5'7". Growing in the ground now.

Positive CostaRica On Jan 28, 2003, CostaRica from Guayabo de Bagaces, Guanacaste
Costa Rica (Zone 10b) wrote:

The large single 'flower' is edible, and is highly sought after here in Costa Rica.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Gold Coast,
Phoenix, Arizona
Surprise, Arizona
Carlotta, California
Fresno, California (2 reports)
Hayward, California
Los Angeles, California
San Diego, California
Simi Valley, California
Spring Valley, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Bartow, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Satellite Beach, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Umatilla, Florida
Kurtistown, Hawaii
New Orleans, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Ashland, Oregon
Gold Hill, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Broaddus, Texas
Dickinson, Texas
Huffman, Texas
Sulphur Springs, Texas
Axton, Virginia
Quilcene, Washington
Tacoma, Washington

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