The Unhappy Yucca [en]

[fr] Le yucca de l'eclau n'est pas heureux.

There is a very unhappy Yucca at eclau. Here he is:

Unhappy Eclau Yucca 1.jpg

As you can see, his lower leaves are drying out in huge quantities. By the time I remembered to take a photo, I had already cleared about half out:

Unhappy Eclau Yucca 3.jpg

You can see which way they’re drying out, and the speckles on the dry leaves:

Unhappy Eclau Yucca 5.jpg

Unhappy Eclau Yucca 4.jpg

Even the new leaves are not happy:

Unhappy Eclau Yucca 2.jpg

It might be overwatering (I’ve hung a “don’t water” sign on him now) but I suspect something more problematic like lack of light. It doesn’t get any direct sunshine where it is, and eclau sometimes stays closed (blinds down) all week-end. Not great for a yucca.

I don’t see a solution to this because this guy is huge. There is nowhere else he will fit. The yucca was brought to eclau ages ago by one of the coworkers and was left there when he departed. I’ve always had a bit of trouble fitting him somewhere, not to mention that he first came with hordes of little black “rot flies” (dunno how to call them in English).

So, I suspect it’ll come down to this:

  • make sure it’s not an illness (anybody?)
  • chop chop chop him down, cut the arms off
  • repot the stump and put it somewhere happier
  • repot the tops (I’ve read you just stick them in soil and they’ll root) for three smaller yuccas which can go live in happier places

Ideas and advice welcome, specially if you know what’s going on here.

4 thoughts on “The Unhappy Yucca [en]

  1. You might also want to investigate the soil, if it’s too rich. And yes, I’d advise moving to more sun.

    Is the temperature swiss or is it hot enough for the Yucca?

    (from what I remember thay need dry sandy soil, and a hot, dry atmosphere)

  2. It’s been in the same soil for over 2 years, and wasn’t losing leaves this badly initially. Temperature hasn’t changed, but it did get moved when we “redid” eclau a year ago. And I suspect, indeed, it doesn’t have enough light. I’m just worried it might be an illness on top of it. There is a yucca illness with round spots, but the photos and description don’t match.

    If it doesn’t have enough sun, I’m going to have to chop/multiply it to give it more sun, because that spot is the only place in eclau where it will fit 🙁

  3. 1) If it’s been in the same soil for 2 years, the soil is probably beginning to break down, which will eventually suffocate the roots. There’s also the possibility that, if the root ball hasn’t been flushed out with water lately, minerals could be building up in the soil. Soil breakdown and/or mineral buildup may not be what’s causing your problems, but the plant is due for new soil either way, so I’d encourage you to think about replacing the soil in the pot.

    2) I checked a book of mine (a reference book for tropical plant producers) to see if there was anything matching your symptoms, and . . . well, not really. It’s hard to tell from your photos, though, so here’s what I found anyway:
    2a) Excessive fertilizer or mineral buildup can give them “severe, brown scorching of the older foliage.”
    2b) Lack of nitrogen manifests as pale, yellowish plants with narrow leaves and slow growth.
    2c) There is a fungal disease that causes small, circular, transparent spots about the size of BBs on the older leaves, which turn black with age. It’s most likely to appear in tropical conditions with humid air, especially if the foliage is repeatedly wet, and on plants with inadequate nitrogen. (I don’t necessarily think this is what’s happening with your plant, but the black spots on the dead leaves are a bit odd.)
    2d) Yuccas are sensitive to fluoride specifically, more so than minerals in general, and fluoride buildup appears as black tips or margins of the leaves.

    3) Since the plant is fairly old and leggy now, you may want to restart it from cuttings, rather than try to save it in its present form. I’ve rooted them in water before (tip cuttings rooted in water is actually the method by which I’ve propagated most of my Yuccas), and you may also be able to cut the plant back to within a few inches of the soil line and have it resprout, though that’s a less certain outcome. Once, I cut back a long stem, then chopped up the bare cane at the end into pieces about 4 inches (10 cm) long and planted them vertically in soil. Not all of them rooted, but a few did.

    4) Feel free to contact me directly if you want to talk about this. E-mail [email protected] (after removing the 5’s from the address).

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