The Q&A Archives: Yucca That Won't Bloom

Question: I've bought a wonderful peice of land with existing yucca that have not bloomed the two years we've been here. Should they be fed, or divided? What can I do to encourage those beautiful blooms? If they should be divided, when and how? Also, my 50 established blueberry bushes are choked and tangled by blackberry brambles-I hacked the brambles to the dirt, they loved it and returned in masses. I'm concerned with disturbing the blueberry bushes if I use a "weed-killer." Suggestions would be so welcome- and I love your site, the information is great! Becky Scarem Bear Lake, PA

Answer: It may be that the yucca in your yard are growing on soil that is too rich for them to want to bother to bloom. Usually, if a plant is overfertilized, it is less likely to bloom. If you think about the yucca's native arid, desert environment, you'll see what I mean. You may need to transplant it to a drier, less fertile soil, or put them in pots so you can control their nutrient supply. Perhaps a root pruning, acheived through slicing through part of the root system with a spade, will persuade them to bloom, as this will also cut down on nutrient uptake. Ah, blackberries. A challenge, to be sure! I remember my mom once telling me a story of how her dad dug up brambles and hardhack one summer at a certain phase of the moon and they took a lot longer to grow back. I think this had more to do with the stage of the plant's life cycle than the moon phase, but you never know. It makes sense that in late summer the plants are not growing as vigorously as in spring/early summer and are concentrating their energy on fruit production rather than vegetative growth. You may simply have to keep cutting them to the ground repeatedly until their root reserves are depleted and they will not bounce back. Once they are cut to the ground, you can do spot applications of Weed Eraser (a natural fatty-acid based weed control available from Gardener's Supply Co; e-mail, or use a flame weeder to keep them at bay. Next spring after the ground has thawed but before the brambles come up, put down a landscape fabric weed barrier around the blueberries, to further smother them.

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