Yucca yearning for the great outdoors

Many years ago – and I mean many years ago – before the dawn of the mobile phone and internet, I had a yucca. Many people had yuccas; they were the must-have houseplant, even if they were probably the most boring.

Yuccas are fine, yuccas are great; in the right place. Back in the early 1980s, when my own yucca was almost two feet high, it was a danger to man and beast. For a small person, like a toddler, it was almost a case of calling in Health and Safety (if they had existed in those days.

Imagine Loo or Gee (aka my own small people) bending down to examine said yucca – spiny leaf in face and shrieks of pain and hankies filled with tears. Yuccas are not plants for family households.

In fact, yuccas are not plants for any household. They belong outdoors, when, given the right treatment, they will grow to become acceptable plants.

A mature yucca needs a deep, well-drained soil where it can grow to its heart's content; in time, it will even produce flowers – white, bell-shaped blooms which are quite a talking point.

When the temperature drops, protect the leaves by bundling them up and wrapping them in hessian or even old copies of the Yorkshire Post. They will survive, hopefully.

If it does get frosted and the leaves do curl up and die, cut off the top six inches of the trunk and pray that it will start to produce fresh growth.

If you insist on growing a yucca indoors, keep it cool in winter (min temp 45F) give it plenty of light, water it well in spring and summer and repot it every two years. If there are offsets growing at the base, remove them and pot them up; they should produce more perfectly acceptable, boring yuccas.

YP MAG 22/1/11