Houseplants forum: Death of a Yucca? (A Cry for Help!)

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Liveyuccalive
Jan 27, 2018 4:33 AM CST
Hello there! Plant novice here seeking sage advice, if anyone would be so kind.

My girlfriend and I bought a large, healthy indoor yucca plant back in October 2017, and are now fearing for its life.
Being naive and uneducated in plant care we initially housed it in the hallway where there was little natural light reaching it. I fear during the first couple of months we may have over-watered the plant too (roughly every 7 days). We noticed the lowest leaves were yellowing and dying off, along with dark spots and leaf tips - this is when we looked to the internet to see what's what.

Since Christmas, the yucca is now proudly sitting in our living room (by the window) which lets in a lot of natural light (albeit winter means about 8-10 hrs daylight where we are). And since then we've seen a good few new, young leaves growing at the very top. As we were worried about how we may have been over-watering we watered it at Christmas, then January 14th - which is the most recent watering.

Although the new leaves are coming through at the top it looks as though the leaves from he bottom are still dying quicker than any new growth. I've now noticed a few dark spots appearing on the newest leaves and am wondering if our previous potential over-watering may have led to root rot and I was hoping guidance from more experienced plant lovers may be able to help identify if this is the case? We were thinking of inspecting the roots/cutting them/replanting this weekend...

Here are some images that may help. If you require any others please let me know and I'll happily supply. Thanks for taking the time to read this!


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Name: Christine
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Christine
Jan 27, 2018 7:49 AM CST
I think the Ivy may have chocked the life out of it. Other members will have better advice for you, but for now I would cut away all the ivy and dead leaves.
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[Last edited by Christine - Jan 27, 2018 7:50 AM (+)]
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Name: Sandi
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Bubbles
Jan 27, 2018 8:11 AM CST
As thick as the trunk is at the bottom, I would think you need to plant it in a larger pot. Based on the plant still trying to grow new leaves, it may have a good chance of surviving. Take the ivy out and plant it in another container. The two plants have different water needs. Yucca needs very little water. They are happiest in the desert.

Good luck, I'm sure someone else will come in with more information and suggestions. No one likes to see a plant die. Well, maybe poison ivy.
Name: Will Creed
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WillC
Jan 27, 2018 8:33 AM CST
It is all about the light. Yuccas require more light than most plants used indoors. Yours had virtually no light for about two months. When a plant does not get enough light, it uses very little water so overwatering is very easy to do.

However, if the roots were rotted, the new top growth will not be as healthy as it appears in the photos. When a plant doesn't get much light, it can't support as many leaves. It wants to keep growing so it sheds older (lower) leaves while continuing to add new ones on top. Older lower leaves are never replaced.

Strip off all of the discolored ower leaves. Keep it right in front of your sunniest window. Allow the top two inches of soil to get dry before adding water. I strongly advise against your investigating the roots because they only need proper watering, nothing else. Moving it to a larger pot at this time would be a mistake

The Hedera ivy is irrelevant, although it too looks like it is suffering from the lack of light.

Be patient as it will take time to recover. As long as new leaves look mostly healthy, you will know you are on the right track.
Will Creed
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purpleinopp
Jan 28, 2018 7:13 AM CST
HI & welcome! Anyone selling Yuccas as an indoor plants should be given a time-out! I think you would have a much easier time with a Dracaena or Shefflera if you want an indoor tree.

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[Last edited by purpleinopp - Jan 28, 2018 7:14 AM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
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WillC
Jan 28, 2018 9:50 AM CST
Yucca canes can be grown quite successfully if they are kept close to and right in front of a sunny window and not over watered. Over time, indoor Yucca leaves will become softer and more arching and less spiky. A different look for sure, but still healthy.But definitely not a good choice for reduced indoor light.
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tarev
Jan 28, 2018 12:52 PM CST
Hello Liveyuccalive, Yucca can take full sun, quite drought tolerant too. It is normal for this plant to drop older and lower leaves, so just remove them. It is good to know the plant is growing new leaves from the top, so it is striving to survive.

In winter, it would be good to position this plant by a south facing window to get as much warmth and light it can. You are growing it indoors so you have to make adjustments to watering. It may be more ideal to hold off watering but continue to keep it warm and get as much sun it can get. Light levels indoors during winter is not quite sufficient for this plant, so it slows down in growth, dropping leaves it cannot sustain as it tries to continue on growing very slowly.

Don't know where your location is, but speaking from the Yucca I have here in my area I have them growing outdoors in a container even in winter since our winters are milder and this is the time of the year we get rain. From April to November it is gets very hot and dry here and this plant survives those onerous conditions. My plant has been hardened already being outdoors all year long, so it can take it.

Liveyuccalive
Jan 30, 2018 2:45 PM CST
Hi all, thanks very much for your replies!

First off, I'm in (not so sunny) Scotland. We purchased it from a lady who had kept it in her living room by the window and it was very healthy looking at that point in October. She lived in a house so perhaps she moved it out to her greenhouse (she showed us around and kept many plants!) over winter to allow for more light, but it sounded as though she kept it in the living room.

We are in a flat so we'll have to make do with it remaining indoors Sticking tongue out Where we are keeping it now is next to a south facing, large bow window (270 degrees worth of window light). I have posted some more pictures below with the dead leaves removed - and I'll be moving it closer into the middle of the bay than the pictures show.

I'm hoping to avoid/put off re-potting if it might make things worse. My worry is still the lowest leaves are showing signs of yellowing, drooping and "burnt" tips (can be seen in photos). I shall leave it for now with no more watering and see how it fares over the next short while. If anyone has any new ideas in response to the new images, feel free to let me know Thumbs up Crossing Fingers!



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Name: Will Creed
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WillC
Jan 30, 2018 4:26 PM CST
Your Yucca was living for nearly two months with virtually no light. You have subsequently improved the light, but it will take a long time for it to overcome the 2 months of light deprivation.

You are right to leave the roots alone and to reduce the watering. Of course, it will need some water whenever the top quarter of the soil feels very dry.

Remove dying lower leaves and hope for healthy new growth on top.
Will Creed
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Name: tarev
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tarev
Jan 31, 2018 9:46 AM CST
Hello Liveyuccalive, patience will be your friend. It is a slow growing plant and any change in its environment takes a while for it to adjust. It may take the entire season to do it. Winter is always a challenge for plants that typically prefers and enjoys living outdoors.

Btw, does your container have drain holes? I noticed on the last photo there was no saucer under the container. Or if this container you have is like a self watering container that holds water below, I would suggest you remove the lower part or add more drain holes somehow to allow good water drainage.

During mid Spring, you can improve further your soil media, make it a bit more grittier. The roots of this plant hates sitting in too damp soil. I would add in more pumice into the soil or use cacti mix with added pumice or perlite in it.

I would not worry much about the drying out leaves on your plant, it is typical for the lower older ones to dry out first. You are growing your plant in less than ideal environment so the plant is trying to sustain what it can with the very limited light access it is getting.

Here is mine, even growing outdoors, it is doing similar thing this winter, dropping the older lower leaves, light levels still short:

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Faridat
Jan 31, 2018 6:24 PM CST
I agree with Christine, ivy is known for its deadly overstruggling intentions against other plants. An ivy managed to kill our long lived pine tree. I'd cut this off without repotting the plant right now, as it seems to be in such a poor state at the moment. I also agree with Tiffany and Will, yucca needs so much sun, it actually can tolerate full sun all day and never show a distress sign. This is a plant that loves the sun.
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WillC
Jan 31, 2018 7:00 PM CST
The damage that Ivy can do to outdoor plants does not seem to apply to indoor potted plants.
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