Desperate for Advice

Arlington, TX

I've had this yucca about 7 years. Last fall it's two offshoots died. This spring it looked odd and leaning so I cleared the dead leaves away and found its rotten at the base! It is making new leaves. Can it be saved? Re-rooted? Could I cut it off and let it dry the lay on sand? It has been a beautiful large specimen and I want to save it if possible.

Thumbnail by newtonsthirdlaw Thumbnail by newtonsthirdlaw Thumbnail by newtonsthirdlaw
Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

I would take a cutting where the stem tissue is healthy and try to root it, if the lower stem is really gone. I would imagine a shorter piece would root better than the full stem (total speculation, based on the other plants I grow). Clean well around the stem, removing dead leaves from the last inch or so, so you can easily see what's going on down there, and the roots have a easy way out.

Be really sure the cutting has time to scar over, laying on its side or whatever. You might actually want to tie a rope tight around it where the dead leaf bases are and then hang it from that, so it doesn't get deformed from laying under its own weight. (Not making this up, it worked great for a giant elephant tree cutting I started.)

Once the stem is healed over then you will have to be really patient. I think you should be able to water it more or less like a normal plant in the late spring, given it's in a rocky mix (say 50% or more pumice) and the initial pot is not overly deep. Once you see it perk up a little, you can safely move it to a bigger pot of your choice, then transplant from there to the garden when the time is right. Be sure to stake it well and/or provide good protection from wind/traffic so it doesn't fall over. The most cavalier approach (which I've tried and works with some plants) is to just stick the healed end into the ground where you want it to grow, and go from there.

I have no experience with that yucca but I never cease to be amazed how succulents come back from losing all their roots. Just remember the plant is vulnerable during this period while you're giving it a reboot, and keep it out of the sun for a while.

One more thing: Do you know what caused the rot? Was it a wet winter? Maybe there's something to take from that experience so the re-rooted plant has the best chance to give you many more years of growth. Does that make sense? Something about where you put it or how you set it up, maybe. Every unexpected fatality has its own root causes (so to speak). :)

This message was edited Mar 15, 2015 2:42 PM

Arlington, TX

Not sure, it's been in that spot for 4 years now. I think we had too much wet fall/ winter and I didn't take good precautions this year. Also, I was ill in fall and my plants got no water for a long time. Might have stressed it some.
I'm going to leave it in the shade a week and hope for warm weather to help it callous. Wish me, it, luck.

Arlington, TX

A pic of the stem, hope you can tell as my iPad is not DG. Compatable. Does it look like it can be saved?

Thumbnail by newtonsthirdlaw Thumbnail by newtonsthirdlaw
Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

Nice clean cut and it looks good to me. If it is really woody and hard, you might consider cutting higher up. Or keep it as is, and have much less concern about rot problems, as the rot basically goes along with large exposed surface areas of succulent tissue. I don't know what the window is for these plants, again just speculating, but a younger stem may be quicker to sprout roots. There tends to be a tradeoff in there between size and efficiency. Hopefully someone with actual experience will speak up and help you with this.

Reno, NV(Zone 6b)

No experience, just a guess:

I suspect even Yuccas have to have a stem still capable of taking up water and that stem looks pretty desiccated. That might be a blessing, though, as it formed an air barrier and kept the top of the plant from rotting. Keep cutting up until you find something that looks alive - the texture will change. I would think its safe to cut to just an inch or so below the green leaves (but that wouldn't be my first cut, that would be my desperation cut), treat the cut with fungicide, than place the cut end on damp, coarse soil (don't bury it).

Redwood City, CA

In the succulent books, overgrown echeverias are supposed to be chopped off right under the leaves as that is the part of the stem with the newest growth--and thus better suited to sending out new roots. If that principle applies to yuccas, then Daisy's advice re cutting it close to new growth would be spot on.

I have had this problem with one of my yucca rostratas--which are very expensive when they've grown a trunk--making me loathe to cut it under the leaves and lose that wonderful trunk. So please keep me posted as I'm in the same boat!

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.