Why is yucca plant sometimes considered poisonous

Yucca - location, care and wintering

The yucca filamentosa is often incorrectly referred to as the yucca palm. However, the term palm lily is more correct, because although the plants look like palm trees at first glance, from a botanical point of view they belong to the asparagus family (Asparagaceae).

External features

The yucca is one of the most popular houseplants among Germans, although it can grow very large. It has a round trunk on which the crowns sit at different heights. With good care and a suitable location, it can grow up to five meters high. The leaves are hard-leaved and can reach dimensions of up to half a meter. The tip of these leaves is not entirely harmless because it is easy to prick yourself. In summer, the yucca has many white to cream-colored flowers. They stand on upright, long panicles. However, the inflorescence usually only forms outdoors. A palm lily in the house is unlikely to ever flower.

Toxic or not?

There is disagreement in the literature as to whether these plants are poisonous or not. Some reference books claim that palm lilies are non-toxic to humans, while others claim the opposite. The fact is that yucca contains saponins. They are said to be responsible for the destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis) and can cause irritation of the mucous membranes. After eating parts of the plant, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Vomit
  • diarrhea

Therefore, caution is advised in families with young children.

In cats and smaller animals such as rabbits, symptoms of poisoning such as movement disorders, bleeding, hypothermia and comatose states have often been observed. Pet owners should therefore not buy a yucca!

Veterinarians confirm that there have even been deaths in small animals.

The right location

The yucca prefers a bright location, but does not want to be exposed to the blazing sun. In summer it can be placed in the garden, whereby the plant must always be slowly accustomed to the sun's rays. She feels most comfortable in a partially shaded spot. In gardens, care should be taken to ensure that the location is protected from drafts. The palm lily doesn't want to be too dark. In this case it always grows towards the light, becomes crooked and even dies over time.

The optimal plant substrate

The yucca does not tolerate waterlogging at all. Therefore, a plant substrate should be used that is very well permeable. Drainage on the bottom of the pot prevents the water from building up. Pumice stone or perlite can also be added, especially if the floor is too firm and heavy. For yucca beginners and people who travel a lot and therefore often forget to water, hydroponics is recommended. Alternatively, a mixture of a little sand, compost and garden soil is sufficient.

Planting and repotting the yucca

After buying it, it is advisable to repot the yucca as soon as possible. The standard vessels are usually much too small so that the plant cannot develop properly. Choose a tall container because it works better than a shallow pot. This ensures that the nutrients can be optimally absorbed. You can prevent waterlogging with drainage on the bottom of the pot. If the plant grows vigorously, the roots will also grow vigorously. As soon as they look out of the lower drainage holes, you should repot the yucca again. Every three years at the latest, however, it is time to put the palm lily in a larger pot.

Tips for plant care

So that you can enjoy your yucca for a long time, you should follow a few tips when watering, fertilizing and cutting. The plant thanks you for this with a strong growth. In addition, you ensure that the risk of diseases and pests is reduced.


Propagate yucca palm - cut yucca palm - cuttings cutting yucca palm

Watering and fertilizing the yucca

Although the plant is quite undemanding, it needs water and fertilizer on a regular basis. If you tend to forget about fertilizing and watering, or just don't have the time, go for a planter with an irrigation system. In this case, however, you should expect the yucca to grow stronger, so you will have to repot sooner. You save yourself the work of watering regularly, because depending on which pot size you choose, you only need to add water once a month. Fertilization can also be done directly via the irrigation water.

If you still want to water the yucca yourself, you should observe the following tips:

  • Don't water too much or too often
  • Before watering, check that the top layer of soil is dry
  • The yucca can usually handle hard water
  • In the growth phase, you should provide the palm lily with green plant fertilizer about every 14 days
  • If you do not want the yucca to grow too big, you should fertilize sparingly or not at all

Palm lilies prefer high humidity. You should therefore spray them with water every now and then. Use lime-free water for this, otherwise deposits will form on the leaves.

Cutting the palm lily

In principle, it is possible to cut the yucca, but this is not a must. Actually, the cut is only necessary if the plant has grown too big and thus exceeds the available space in the house. The cut back is easy. A radical cut is also well tolerated by the yucca. The best time is in spring. Just cut the trunk off where you want it. The cut surface should be sealed with candle wax. The advantage of cutting is that the cut parts of the plant can also be used for propagation.

Propagate with cuttings or seeds

It is very easy to propagate the yucca. Simply use the parts of the plant that are left over after cutting as cuttings. Let these root in a glass of water, but make sure that you place the cuttings the right way round. Too much moisture causes rot.

You can also plant the cut off areas directly. Use a special rooting powder so that the roots form faster. The planting substart should not be too wet, otherwise the cuttings will rot.

Alternatively, it can also be propagated with seeds. To do this, you'll need to get your plant to flower or get seeds from a garden center.

The best overwintering

The palm lily is not hardy and must therefore be moved indoors in autumn. The search for a perfect space to overwinter the yucca is often not that easy. It should not be overwintered in a warm living room, because the warm air from the heating system quickly causes diseases or pests. Instead, a bright, but slightly cooler room is preferable, with temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius. Make sure you get fresh air regularly by ventilating the room. However, you should definitely avoid drafts, because the plants usually do not get them.

Especially in winter at low temperatures, the yucca must not be watered too heavily, otherwise the roots will rot. The lower the temperatures in the room, the less often you should use the watering can.

In addition, you should regularly check the yucca for pest infestation during the cold season, as it is then very susceptible to scale insects and spider mites.

Diseases and pests in the yucca

The diseases of the palm lily often occur in winter. This is mostly due to the fact that the location is too warm, which makes the plants weaker and weaker. Pathogens and pests find the best conditions to settle on the yucca. If the leaves show brown discoloration, the humidity is usually too low. Then it helps to spray the plant. If the leaves first turn yellow and later even brown, this is usually due to a substrate that is too dry or too wet. Check what care mistakes you made and pour less or more. If, on the other hand, only the lower leaves turn yellow, there is probably a lack of light. Then place the yucca in a lighter spot. Sometimes the whole plant slowly dies. This is often due to root rot. In this case, it is advisable to repot the palm lily and watch whether the trunk sprouts again.

Varieties and species of the palm lily

A total of around 30 types of yucca can be distinguished from one another. However, they all have quite similar needs when it comes to care. The best known species is the Yucca Aloifolia with finely toothed leaves and an often unbranched trunk. It has many different varieties, such as:

  • Marginata with a very colorful crown of leaves
  • Tricolor with leaves that are striped in green, yellow and red
  • Quadricolor with white, reddish, yellow and green stripes on the leaves
  • Variegata with yellow-colored leaves

One of the largest types of yucca is - as the name suggests - the Yucca elephantipes, which in a planter will not take on too large dimensions. The Yucca gloriosa, on the other hand, is the candle palm lily, which has a short branched trunk and is noticeable with its light blue frosted leaves.

FAQ - The most common questions

What is a yucca palm?
Although the yucca is often referred to as a palm, it is actually a plant that belongs to the asparagus family. Nevertheless, thanks to its exotic growth, the yucca looks like a palm tree.

What does yucca mean?
The name yucca stands for "palm lily".

How often should you water the yucca palm?
You shouldn't water the yucca too often, but always wait until the top layer of the soil is dry.

When and how often does the yucca palm bloom?
The flowering period lasts from July to September. However, it is seldom possible to get indoor plants to bloom.

When can you cut yucca and how do you do it?
If you want to cut the yucca, you should do it in the spring. To do this, you simply prune the plant at any point. A radical cut is also possible with the yucca.

How do you care for a yucca palm?
Yucca palms are easy to care for and robust. They need to be watered and fertilized occasionally. Cutting measures are not absolutely necessary.

How big do yucca palms get?
In their homeland, yucca palms can grow up to five meters. In the case of indoor plants, however, the maximum growth height is lower.

How fast do yucca palms grow?
Yucca palms grow quite quickly if they are given a good location, a suitable substrate and optimal care. If you want to reduce the vigor, you should avoid frequent fertilizers.

What can be the reason if the yucca palm does not bloom?
Most of the yucca palms that are kept in the room do not bloom.

Why does a yucca palm get yellow or brown leaves?
Yellow leaves that later turn brown are usually caused by a substrate that is too dry or too wet. Therefore you should check your water supply in this case and adjust it if necessary.

Is Yucca Toxic to Humans?
The yucca contains saponins, which can irritate the mucous membranes. Vomiting, diarrhea or inflammation of the gums may occur after consumption.

Is yucca poisonous to cats, dogs, or rabbits?
Plant experts assume that the yucca palm also poses a danger to animals. Rabbit owners in particular should not place the yucca within reach of the animals.

How many types of yucca palms are there?
There are around 30 types of yucca, which hardly differ from one another in terms of their requirements.

Where does the yucca palm come from?
The yucca originally comes from the USA.

Which fertilizer is suitable for the yucca palm?
Liquid green plant fertilizer is optimal.

Which substrate should be used for the yucca palm?
The substrate must be permeable, because the yucca does not like waterlogging. A mixture of compost, garden soil and a little sand is ideal. The soil can be loosened up with pumice stone or perlite.

How much cold can a yucca palm tolerate?
The temperatures should not drop below 5 degrees Celsius.

When is the yucca palm allowed to go outside?
As soon as the temperatures no longer drop below 5 degrees Celsius at night, the yucca is allowed outside.

How much light does the yucca palm need?
A light spot by the window is important for healthy growth.


Euasterids II
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Musk herb family (Adoxaceae)
Genus: Elder (Sambucus)
Type: Black elder

Scientific name

Sambucus nigra

Article image: © Horiyan / Shutterstock

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